EastVillageTimes took the time to sit down and talk to San Diego Padres 2015 10th round pick Justin Pacchioli. The speedy outfielder had a very productive first year in professional baseball with the Tri-City Dust Devils. In the short league season he played in 58 games and produced a batting line of .245/.385/.279 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 204 plate appearances. He also stole 19 bases and played a very productive outfield for the team.
The 23-year-old Pacchioli is a right handed hitter and thrower. His power is developing, but his game is to get on base and make things happen. Talking to this young man you know that he is fully aware of the type of player he is, and that will go a long way into his development. Pacchioli will never be a power hitter, but once he develops some more muscle and fills out his 6 foot 2 inch frame, he could turn some heads.
The most important tool a young player can posses is a great attitude and Pacchioli has that. Every player in the minor league level has the talent to succeed. It takes a special player to watch, listen and learn. The young outfielder is skilled in many baseball departments and could easily surprise scouts and develop fairly quickly.
He was a journalism major and received his degree from Lehigh University after four seasons with the baseball team. His senior year he hit .342 with a .485 on base percentage and 31 stolen bases. This after hitting .362 his junior year and .366 his sophomore season. Pacchioli played only 24 games his freshman year because of an injured finger suffered in an outfield dive. The man can hit and has an idea how to play the game. That is the common theme when researching what his coaches say about him. His sense of how to play the game.
He is a ball player in every sense of the word. Justin Pacchioli brings a positive attitude to the ball park every day and that can be infectious and help develop chemistry on a team. It is no coincidence that this young man has been a part of championship teams in high school, college and also in his first year as a professional. A successful team needs plenty of players like him to play the game the correct way. The young Pacchioli is working very hard to one day play in the outfield for the San Diego Padres. If he continues his current path, the sky is the limit.
Have you had the chance to visit the City of San Diego?
No I have not but I hear it is really beautiful, but hopefully one day ill get out there.
I understand you were a quarterback in high school, did you have aspirations of playing football in college?
I had a few looks from local colleges. Temple and UConn were some of the bigger schools that had interest in me at quarterback or safety. I wasn’t sure initially what I wanted to do but Lehigh University came along and gave me the opportunity to stay close to home and play division one baseball. That caught my interest initially in the school. After meeting the coaches and catching on there I decided to just play baseball there at Lehigh. It wasn’t a hard decision. I just felt I had more of a future in baseball.
You were a catcher in high school and also as a freshmen in college. Do you miss being behind the plate?
A little bit. At the end of our season at Tri-City this year I volunteered to catch some pitchers in the bullpen and that brought back some memories. The coaching staff actually didn’t know I was a catcher, and were happy to know that. I don’t necessarily miss it as far as the beating I took behind the plate. You take a beating everyday and me being a fast guy it wasn’t always ideal for me to be back there. I kinda enjoy running around in the outfield now.
2015 was your first professional season at Tri-City. Did you have a specific coach take you under his wing?
All of our coaches were great. Marvin Benard and our manager Anthony Contreras are great guys and they taught me a lot about the game of baseball. AC (Contreras) took me under his wing towards the end of the season to work on my hitting. I’m a thin guy and he helped me break out towards the end of the season and drive balls more. I was hitting the ball a lot harder, I hit some doubles and even a home run. I was really starting to find it at the end of the year and he helped me find that. I was doing a lot of drills and early work trying to find that backspin I was looking for.
Were there any particular players you developed a friendship with in your first pro season?
We were from the first guy on our team to the last guy on our team a very close family. We had a great locker room bond. We had a great family like bond in the locker room and that is something you don’t see all the time in minor league baseball. Our coaches and people who came in and saw us and commented that it was unique what we had going. We had that bond and everyone had each others back and wanted to do everything we could to win. We had a championship run, we didn’t win it, but had a great run. I became very close to A.J. Kennedy who was a catcher at Cal State Fullerton. Peter Van Gansen and Ty France were also first year draft guys and we all came in at the same time. Nick Vilter was my roommate and we stayed with a host family together. We all just hung out and that big family bond that we created once we arrived at Tri-City lasted the whole season.
What is your biggest thrill so far in the game of baseball?
Obviously your goal is to get drafted. That’s the first step. I was lucky enough to play division one baseball and get a chance to win a conference ring and go play at LSU in a regional in front of 14,000 people. Then I got drafted and had a good first year. Then I played in a championship my first pro season. Everything that has happened in the last year or so has been great. I am so thankful and it has been quite the ride so far.
Did you have a particular professional baseball team and player that you rooted for growing up?
My dad was a big Yankees fan growing up so when I was growing up that was who I was rooting for. Derek Jeter was the captain and did everything on and off the field. He was who I looked up to and always tried to be like and idolize.
I see that you are working a lot with Brad Piperata of Nxt level performance LLC. He is a strength and conditioning coach. Have you worked on anything in particular?
I’m working on a little bit of everything. I am a speed guy so one thing I want to master is my speed. They talk about mastering your craft and that’s one of my best tools. I can run fast. That’s something I am gong to try to master. Getting good jumps in the outfield and using my speed to the best of its ability is my main focus. Its something I always work on and can improve. Also we have been working on my strength which is probably my weakness. I’m not one of the strongest guys, I can’t drive the ball out of the ball park whenever I want. I’m trying to get stronger and I see the production coming. We try to follow the Padres plan and do a little more of what Brad has extra. But it all falls along with what the Padres have me doing with my strength and speed development.
Do you have a preference on where you hit in the lineup?
Leadoff is kind of where I have always been. I haven’t seen much time hitting third or fourth, so I know nothing about that area. I have always been number one or two guy or I would hit eighth or ninth in the lineup occasionally. I’m a get on base guy. I get on base, draw walks, steal bags and score runs. Try to set the table. That’s how I play the game. If they put me in the three hole I’m going to go out and do my job. I’m not picky about where I hit in the lineup. I just want to be in it. That’s the goal everyday. I just want to play. No matter where I am in the lineup, I’m just going to go out there and give it my all.
Do you have any advice for the kids out there who wish to attain a life in professional baseball?
I go down to Brad’s gym when he is doing baseball camps with my dad and talk to some of the kids. We just try to have fun. That’s on of my big things. I just try to have fun. Baseball can be frustrating. Its like life. Life can be frustrating. Whatever sport you are playing it can be frustrating. You just have to go out and try to have fun. You can’t take anything for granted, you gotta just play the game as hard as you can and leave it all out on the field. Just have fun and enjoy it and work hard. Anything you want to do is possible. You gotta work hard, if you do that you can do anything you want in life. If you wanna be a baseball player. Go out and take a million swings and do whatever is necessary to get you where you want to be.
What do you enjoy most about the game of baseball?
I think the people and the places the game has brought me to. I played with a host family down in Texas and that was the first time I was away from home. It was an eye-opening experience, just being on my own and playing almost like a minor league type schedule. Playing baseball everyday was awesome. Meeting the people I met in Texas, meeting the people now in the Padres organization and traveling is the most enjoyable. I got to meet Moises Alou. I got to meet Mark Loretta, Steve Finley. These are guys I watched on T.V. Mark McGwire just got the bench coach job in San Diego. When I go to spring training I’m going to get to meet a guy who I saw hit so many home runs on television. He’s going to be there. I am going to get a chance to work on my swing with him. That’s just awesome. Its something I thought I’d never get to do if it wasn’t for baseball.
“You can’t take it for granted. You never know what is going to happen.”
Those were some of the last comments Mr. Pacchioli left me with. That speaks volumes into how this man thinks and the type of player he is. I commend him for his positive attitude and hopefully he achieves all that he dreams of in the game of baseball. He is well on his way down the right path. With a little luck and his continued work ethic we are positive he will be successful.