This is the first in a series on the catching corps at Kane County as Northsiders Report gives you an inside look at Cael Brockmeyer, Ben Carhart and Will Remillard.
Cael Brockmeyer had to bide his time before he got on the diamond to start the 2014 campaign, his first full season after being selected in the 16th round last year out of California State-Bakersfield.
"I kinda had to wear it for a little while due to roster spots but I stuck with the grind and came out here every day," the 22-year-old told Northsiders Report in a recent interview. "It was kinda frustrating going to the park knowing you weren't going to get into the lineup but I knew I was eventually going to play."
Brockmeyer's work ethic while waiting to get on the diamond didn't go unnoticed by manager Mark Johnson. "When he did start on the DL, he was a true professional about it, caught all the bullpens and got all his extra work in," Johnson said.
Part of the process was so Brockmeyer could learn the pitching staff during the first month, and when his time came, make the easy transition behind the plate. His opportunity came on April 26 as he got the start against Wisconsin and was 1-3 with a RBI in the 5-4 win.
"He was physically and mentally ready for the day when he did come off and he's jumped right in there and produced," Johnson said of Brockmeyer. "And done a great job behind the plate."
The former Massachusetts prep has been solid at the plate, hitting.293/.351/.374 in 31 games with a homer and 13 RBI. The 6-foot-5 235-pounder has caught 20 games, played three at first, and been the DH eight times. While he's only thrown out 20 percent of base runners, Johnson, a former big leaguer catcher, has been impressed with Brockmeyer. "Cael does a great job, he's a big guy that really squats like a small guy and has a low target, he does a great job working with pitchers and handling the staff."
Brockmeyer said he is well aware of his manager's MLB experience and isn't afraid to ask questions to tap into that knowledge. "Any questions we have we can always go to him, he's lived this life, he's got big league time, so its definitely nice having him as our manager, and be able to go up and ask him questions. Been able to help us control games and teach us things to do in different situations," Cael said of the Cougars' manager.
Brockmeyer said he feels good behind the plate and complemented the hurlers he works with. "Pretty easy going pitching staff to work with, our guys throw a lot of strikes, We've got some pretty nice starters and relievers coming in, its been going well."
A slight adjustment in his mechanics has helped at the plate. "I've added a little knee tuck, to help me stay back, instead of jumping at ball," he said of the change. "At the plate, the swing is feeling good right now, I'm in a pretty comfortable spot, luckily I've been hitting it hard and its been falling in."
Now over year into his pro career, Brockmeyer said he has no regrets about foregoing his senior year and turning pro, and enjoyed the draft process. In 59 games for CSU-Bakersfield, the first-team All-WAC selection hit 330/.416/.480 with a team-high 13 doubles, four homers, and 51 RBI.
"It was a fun experience coming into last season, not knowing what's going to happen with draft, and kinda up in the air. Talked to all the scouts and I ended up talking to Tom Myers, the Cubs California area scout, a lot. On draft day, they called me and gave me an offer and I said, ‘yes' because I wanted to come out here and play. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to play pro ball so finally getting the chance to come out here and see what its like, and go through it, definitely been a fun experience. I think I was ready to move on from the college game and give my all to pro ball. Its been fun so far."
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