Josh VanMeter is from America’s Heartland, specifically, Ossian, Indiana. While he may come from a small town, he’s in pursuit of his big league dream. We had the opportunity to speak with VanMeter about his career and preparation for the future.
VanMeter attended Norwell High School, where he was a well-regarded shortstop. In his senior season, he helped lead the Knights to a 2013 3A state title. That summer, the San Diego Padres drafted him in the fifth round of the amateur draft.
The Padres assigned the 19-year-old draftee to their low-A affiliate Fort Wayne TinCaps, for the 2014 season. With the move came an adjustment period, as he felt pressure and struggled in the first half of the season. After making some changes to his approach, he finished the season on a stronger note.
A return to TinCaps was in the cards at the beginning of the 2015 season, where he was hoping his hard work would pay off. Instead, he was dealt a tough hand, suffering a fractured left fibula, that required surgery. The injury was a setback to a promising season and one in which he was hoping to prove that he was ready for the next level.
“I thought that the season was definitely over and I just lost a year. It was going to be a big year for me. I really wanted to prove that I was good enough to move up a level. That came to a big halt. Looking back on it, it really helped me. It put things into perspective for me. As a professional baseball player, you’re blessed to be able to do this for a living. From a physical standpoint, it allowed me to be in the weight room for four months and work on my health, my diet, and my strength. I’ve been bigger, faster, [and] stronger since coming back.”
After hard work and time to recover, VanMeter came into the 2016 season focused and ready to become a better hitter.
“I came into the year trying to do a little too much, because of the injury. I had a good spring, I focused on the little things. Xavier Nady was my hitting coach in Lake Elsinore. We didn’t talk about anything physical, it was more mental adjustments than anything. The biggest key for me was not giving at-bats away. Not giving away pitches. Focus on every pitch and not missing mistakes. That was big for me.
I ended up going to Double-A at the end of the year and struggled a little bit. I was pressing a little bit. It was a great year and something that I can build off of.”
After the conclusion of the regular season, an invitation to the Arizona Fall League would await. A high-level of competition and a relaxed atmosphere are all part of the AFL experience.
“I got invited to the Arizona Fall League and got back to being relaxed, being confident. Doing what the game gives me. It worked out for me. It was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had in baseball. To have success made it all the more fun.
During the season you’re all competing for one spot. You’re playing as a team, but you’re competing for a spot in the big leagues. In the fall league, you have five different teams. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a little more laid back. I think the expectations of the players are higher and everyone plays up to those expectations.
The camaraderie was the most fun that I’ve ever had in a dugout. You’re making new relationships, meeting new people and it was a lot of fun. It was relaxed but it was taken very seriously.”
VanMeter’s offseason took an unexpected turn when he was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for former Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens. The move brings a change in organizations, but his goal of reaching the major leagues remains the same.