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Spike's Rowan Wick on Torrid Home Run Pace

by and on July 06, 2014 2:00 AM

It's been a hot start for the State College Spikes.

Through the first 17 games of the season, the Spikes were 11-6 and tied for first place in the Pinckney Division of the New York Penn League.

The long ball has been a huge factor for the Spikes' early-season success. State College leads the New York Penn League with 21 home runs. That is eight more homers than the Lowell Spinners, who sit at second in team home runs.

In large part, the Spikes inflated home run numbers can be attributed to one of the hottest bats in the league, rightfielder Rowan Wick.

Asked how he would pitch to Wick right now, Spikes head coach Oliver Marmol can only muster a couple of words.

"I wouldn't," he says matter-of-factly.

Wick currently leads the New York Penn League with 10 home runs and is tied for first in RBIs with 21. He became the only player in franchise history to hit four home runs in the first four games in a season. Barring injury, he will break David Washington's franchise record of 10 home runs that was set last year.

As easy as it looks for Wick right now, he has come a long way into converting successful plate appearances. Power has never been an issue, but recognizing pitches has.

"You got to see what is thrown to you and react to those pitches," says Wick. "They're not all going to be easy so you just have to go with it."

Last year in rookie-level Johnson City, Wick belted 10 home runs. Five of those homers came in an eight-game stretch. However, in extended spring training, Marmol told Wick that if he could not lay off the low pitch he would not see any improvement.

Wick spent countless hours in the cage and with hitting coach Ramon "Smokey" Ortiz working on laying off the curve ball in the dirt.

"Pitch recognition is the biggest thing with any power hitter," says Marmol. "Most power guys strike out a higher percentage than anybody else and as long as he makes contact, the ball is going to travel a long way."

The repetitions have not only helped improve Wick's power but have also helped him achieve the league's second-best batting average (.407). Wick has sprayed hits and home runs to all sides of the field.

Wick is not the only one benefiting from the off-season work. Clean-up hitter Nick Thompson has hit directly in front of Wick for the majority of the season. Thompson, in his first year of professional baseball, already has 11 RBIs.

"It is nice for me knowing that I am going to get some pitches to hit," says Thompson.

If Spikes fans want to catch a glimpse of the red-hot Wick, they might want to do it now, as his days in State College may be coming to a close.

"Wick is unbelievable right now," says Thompson. "If he keeps up this pace, he won't be here much longer."

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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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