Friday Feature – Josh Spiegel

Measurables. It’s a topic that is highly discussed in baseball when analyzing a player’s potential. Scouts love to highlight a stud’s ability to produce a fast 60 time, blow the cover off the ball with a great exit velo, and submit a pop-time below two seconds. Measurables and statistics are the backbone of scouting and recruiting, and have always been a gigantic part of our country’s pastime.

If you are searching across the baseball landscape of Western Pennsylvania you would not have to go very far to find a player who thrives in this category of the game. His name is Josh Spiegel.

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Josh is a catcher from Penn Trafford who has not only dominated the WPIAL competition, but also has found incredible success on a national scale. He has recorded a pop time as low as 1.8, hosts an exit velo well above the 90 mph mark, and as catcher is able to run a 6.7, 60. 

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I had the opportunity to sit down with Josh and talk to him about several different topics. Here is what he had to say.

Q : Let’s start by talking about your team at Penn Trafford this season. So far you guys have gotten off to a solid start in section play, and look like you are on the right track to be one of the top teams in section 2 by years end. What’s the mindset around the team right now, and what are the team’s goals for this season?  

J : Yeah, we have played pretty well through the first part of section play. We have some big tests coming up this week, but for our team we are just trying to take it one game at a time and have as much fun as possible while not trying to do too much. Our goals for this year is to win the section title, then make a good run in the playoffs and have a great chance to win a WPIAL championship.

Q : Four of your next five contests come against top 10 teams. What does your team have to do in order to be successful against the tough competition within your section?

J : For our team to have success against the tough competition we have to constantly focus on just grinding out at bats, putting runs up early, throwing strikes and always getting ahead of hitters. A major focus is with making our opponents hit our guys best out pitch, rather than getting a hold of a pitch the hitters are looking for. Our team has to always remain confident in ourselves knowing that we have a great all around team in every aspect of the game.

Q : Shifting the focus over to you personally now. What is your own focus this season? What do you expect from yourself and hope to achieve before you leave Penn Trafford?

J : I just want to focus on staying relaxed. I never want to put  too much pressure on myself and I know what I am capable of doing when I am in the right mindset. I want to win a section and wpial championship with my brothers as well. We are a very close team this year, and it would be something special to win it all my last year here with those guys.

Q : There is not too many WPIAL players who have gone to Oklahoma State like you will be this upcoming fall. What was the entire recruiting process was like for you, and what helped you make the decision to commit there?

J : The recruiting process was really great for me. I got the opportunity to visit a lot of amazing places, and meet some great coaches. What ultimately made me choose OSU was their staff. They are some of the best coaches in the country and it felt like home when I was there. I felt it was the best place for me to develop and hopefully make it to the major leagues afterwards.

Q : Speaking of the major leagues, you have been announced as a top prospect by platforms like Perfect Game, MLB Draft Pipeline etc., has there been any sort of insight provided to you about a potential draft position this year? Have you been talking to pro teams about going straight from high school, or do you think you will definitely be a Cowboy in the fall?

J : Yes I have talked to a some teams, and they have sent scouts out to watch me play this year. My first choice is to go to college, but if I do get drafted, I would talk it over with my parents and choose the option that is the best fit for me.

Q : Alright Josh, onto the most important part of this interview, the rapid fire around. You ready?

J : Absolutely! Let’s do it.

Q : If Josh Spiegel was stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one thing what would he bring?

J : Drinkable Water

Q : What future career would you want to be in excluding professional baseball?

J : That’s a tough one but I would love to be a GM one day.

Q : A GM for which team? Of who’s your favorite MLB team?

J : Any team at all, but my favorite are the hometown Pirates.

Q : If you were the Pirates GM would you have traded Cutch?

J : Looking at it now I think it was good for him, and the team, but I probably would have let him stay and maybe done it at the trade deadline.

Q : Switching gears to a really serious topic, what is your favorite meal?

J : Steak, mashed potatoes, and corn!

Q :What’s the number one thing you do in your free time?

J : I love to hunt and fish!

Q : Is there any last things you want to tell the WPIAL world, or make any shoutouts before we close it out?

J : Yes sir, thank you for picking me as your Friday Feature, I had a great time talking with you!

 

Make sure your follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball – and continue to check in with our blog to see the most updated content on everything in the world of WPIAL Baseball. See you at Consol.

 

Week 4 – Games to Watch

We are officially into the fourth week of WPIAL baseball action. So far this season has been extremely exciting, with some surprise teams establishing their rank early in section play. Usually right around this time is when the true colors of each team start to show. Pretenders fall to the back, contenders rise to the opportunity, and the powerhouses assert their dominance.

Monday starts off hot with top 5 matchups in five of the six conferences, and a showdown between the top two squads in 3A, Riverside and Avonworth. Moving on 48 hours later, Wednesday plays host to the likes of undefeated 4A powerhouses, Freeport and Knoch. We are also very intrigued with the GCC/Jeanette matchup in 1A. The defending WPIAL champs play host to a very hot GCC squad that believes they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run. Rounding out the weekend on the 20th, WPIAL fans will get the opportunity to watch a 6A Non-Section showdown between #1 Butler and #4 Hempfield. Also, the 2A heavy favorite, Serra Catholic, will have to travel to the likes of #7 Carlynton in a tough road matchup.  

Here is the full Week 4 – Games To Watch List:

April 16th

6A

#2 Pine Richland @ #5 North Allegheny

5A

#4 West Allegheny @ #5 Moon Area

#3 Laurel Highlands @ #7 Gateway

3A

#1 Riverside @ #2 Avonworth

2A

#3 CWNC @ #2 Neshannock

1A

#4 Union @ #5 Eden Christian

 

April 18th

6A

#7 Penn Trafford @ #6 Norwin

5A

#6 Hampton @ #2 Mars

4A

#4 Freeport @ #2 Knoch

#6 West Mifflin @ #9 South Park

3A

#5 Steel Valley @ #7 Shady Side Academy

#2 Avonworth @ #8 South Side Beaver’

#3 Brownsville @ #4 Charleroi

2A

#5 OLSH @ #3 CWNC

#6 Bishop Canevin @ #7 Carlynton

1A

#1 Vincentian @ #5 Eden Christian

#2 GCC @ #3 Jeanette

 

April 20th

6A

#4 Hempfield @ #1 Butler*

#3 Canon Mac @ #8 USC

5A

#6 Hampton @ #1 North Hills

#3 Laurel Highlands @ #8 Franklin Regional

4A

#7 Ringgold @ #6 West Mifflin

3A

#1 Riverside @ #8 South Side Beaver

2A

#8 Laurel @ #5 OLSH

#1 Serra Catholic @ #7 Carlynton

1A

#2 GCC @ #8 Monessen

#6 Quigley Catholic @ #9 Rochester

 

*Non-Section Matchup

Friday Feature – Connor Ollio

We are starting a new segment here at WPIAL Baseball, where we showcase one of the WPIAL’s top ball players. To start this new addition to our lineup, we decided to interview Butler’s very own, Connor Ollio.

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If you have yet to hear about what is brewing in Butler this year, you better start tuning in. The Golden Tornadoes are off to an incredible 4-0 start to their season, with one of these wins coming in upset fashion over the heavy 6A favorite, Pine Richland. Ollio is a force all over the field. His fastball has already been recorded above the 90 mph mark, on the flip side he showcases gap-to-gap power and quick hands, and also carries the utility skill-set to thrive at any position on the diamond.

All of these talents are extremely impressive, but what is most intriguing with Connor is his maturity as a ball player and person. He was a part of the 15u, USA baseball team that brought home the Pan Am gold in 2015. After his final season at Butler, he will move on to play for Mike Fox and the baseball powerhouse that is the University of North Carolina.  

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I had a chance to discuss a number of topics with Connor, and here is what he had to say.

Q : First, I just wanted to start talking about your team at Butler this season. Obviously you guys are off to an awesome start, what’s the mindset throughout the team right now during this period of success?

C : We get after it every day. Our goal is trying to make ourselves a little bit better each time we play/practice. Most importantly we all play for each other, and always have each other’s back.

Q : We had you guys highly ranked, and knew you were going to be tough to beat, but as a team did you know this season had a legitimate chance to be a really special season? Is the mantra this season WPIAL Title or bust?

C : Absolutely. We’re a tight group that’s been playing together for a long time. We knew we had something special, we just had to work hard and put it all together.

Q : 6A Section 1 is kind of like the group of death in that conference. All 6 of the squads are competitive year in and year out and have flirted with the top 10 in our rankings at one point or another during the early weeks. Is there a particular team that you guys really look forward to going up against? Like a sort of rivalry you guys circle on the schedule that you want to win just a little bit more than the other contests?

C : Every section game is a huge game of course, but we definitely like to play Pine. It’s always a fun game.

Q : Yes it’s definitely a potential 6A championship matchup, so we love seeing how it fares during the regular season. So now on to you a little personally. Who were some of the final schools you were deciding between for your commitment, and what made you ultimately choose the Tar Heels?

C : I had it narrowed down to UNC, Wake Forest and Duke. I could really see myself succeeding both on and off the field in chapel hill. I love campus, the coaching staff, and all the facilities there

Q : We like to promote hotbeds for college recruiting we can for the younger players who have not committed yet can see where they might have the most success getting seen. Was there a particular place or tournament that UNC saw you play at?

C : They ended up coming down to Georgia to see me play in a summer ball tournament, and recruited me right after that.

Q : Ok, rapid fire time, you ready to go?

C: Let’s do it.

Q : What’s the go to song/artist on CO’s playlist prior to game time?

C: Oh man that’s tough haha. Uhh I’d probably go with Run This Town by Jay-Z with Rihanna and Kanye.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?

C: Sandlot

Q : Xbox or Playstation?

C : I don’t play many video games but I had an Xbox so I’ll go with that

Q : Favorite professional sports team?

C : Red Sox

Q : Favorite professional athlete?

C : Mike trout

Q : Anything you want to say to the WPIAL Baseball fans or any shoutouts you want to give before we cut it off?

C : Haha that’s okay. Hopefully I can save the shoutout for the end of the season. Thank you for the opportunity, this was great!

Make sure your follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @wpial_baseball and continue to check in with our blog to see the most updated content on everything in the world of WPIAL Baseball. See you at Consol.