IMG Academy baseball program alum Tyler Pastornicky will have the opportunity this spring to earn the starting short stop position for the Atlanta Braves. Ever since leaving IMG Academy, Pastornicky has done nothing but excel both on and off the field. Last season in AA and AAA, he batted a solid .314, hit seven homers, brought in 45 RBIs, and stole an impressive 27 bases. With the offensive side of his game almost fine tuned to perfection, he has been working on his defensive game as well as his arm strength (gaining 12 pounds of muscle this winter).
Pastornicky will be competing for the starting shortstop position with 34 year old veteran Jack Wilson. Yet instead of only seeing him as competition, Wilson has been more than helpful and has taken on the role of a mentor for the young 22 year old. Wilson has invited Pastornicky to his house in northern Los Angeles where they will spend five days honing down on each others defensive skills and techniques before they head to the Braves camp onFebruary24th in Orlando. Pastornicky is more thanecstaticto work with and have the support of such a successful veteran. Pastornicky and his reactions, thoughts, and plans for the future are featured more at CBCSports.com.
"It's cool to [work with> someone that's not going to be bitter about a 22-year-old kid [trying to take his playing time>. That's not him at all and you can tell," said Pastornicky, who was acquired from Toronto on July 14, 2010 when the Blue Jays sent him, shortstop Alex Gonzalez and left-handed pitcher Tim Collins to Atlanta for shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Now, Pastornicky said, âit's time to be a nuisance and pick Wilson's brain, and be a sponge.â
"When you have a guy like who's been as successful as he has defensively and in the game, period, as a young player I'm trying to soak up everything I can," said Pastornicky, who marveled at Wilson's consistency and quickness in the field prior to Atlanta's season-ending 4-3 loss to Philadelphia.
"I like to listen, ask questions and I like to pick up on little things - even if it's not baseball stuff - like how to act or watch how certain guys act around the clubhouse, how they go about getting their business done, what their daily routine is about. Every little bit you pick up can help your career."
An IMG Academy baseball program alumnus, Pastornicky tore apart AA pitching to the tune of a .299 batting average with six home runs and 20 steals before the Braves promoted him to AAA Gwinnett in late July. Overall, he batted .314 with seven homers and 45 RBIs.
"I got called up to triple-A, had some success right away [.441 average in first eight games> and that was a confidence booster," Pastornicky said. "It showed I could play at the higher levels. It also showed me that it's baseball. It's still the same game [at AAA>."
Pastornicky believes he's ready for full-time major league employment despite having played just 27 games above double-A. He worked diligently over the winter under the guidance of his personal trainer Corey Stenstrup, improving his speed and gaining 12 pounds through weight training and a diet of protein shakes, lean meat, greens and carbohydrates.
For Pastornicky, a full-time gig is there for the taking.