As a two sport star at Jenks High School in Jenks Oklahoma, infielder Trey Michalczewski had many decisions to make during his senior year. In the fall of 2012, Michalczewski completed his final season of high school football. He caught 23 passes for 455 yards and reached pay dirt seven times. The readers of tulsaworld.com named him the top wide receiver at the end of the season. While the 6’3 Michalczewski received plenty of interest from college programs he set his sights towards the sport of baseball.
The Jenks star had already received a scholarship opportunity and was set to attend the University of Oklahoma after his high school career had ended. During his senior campaign, Michalczewski hit .449 with nine home runs and 46 RBI’s. During his high school career he hit a total of 21 home runs and help lead the Jenks High School Trojans to three consecutive regional titles.
As the 2013 draft approached scouts and evaluators were intrigued with Michalczewski’s huge upside and potential, however some were also scared that his strong commitment to college would lead him to bypassing the professional game. The Chicago White Sox selected Michalczewski in the seventh round of the 2013 draft knowing that there was a strong risk that he might not sign with them. After some negotiations and talking with his parents, Michalczewski agreed to an above slot bonus and an agreement with the White Sox that they would fit the bill for future schooling in the event that a baseball career did not work out.
The White Sox assigned Michalczewski to their rookie league affiliate in Bristol, Tennessee. Not only was this his first taste of professional baseball but it was also his first full-time experience at third base. The switch hitting Michalczewski hit 236/.324/.328 and showed some gap to gap power in his rookie campaign. He also worked hard on the defensive side of the game learning the foot work and preparation needed at the hot corner.
At just 19 years old, the White Sox promoted Michalczewski to the Kannapolis Intimidators, their Single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League to kick off the 2014 season. In his first full season of professional baseball he hit .273 with 10 home runs, 32 additional extra base hits and drove in 70 total runs. The Oklahoma native got on base at rate of .348 percent and had an OPS of .781. Those strong numbers throughout his 2014 season helped earn him a late second half promotion. The grind of the long season took a bit of a toll on Michalczewski as he struggled to adjust to the Advanced-A level when he arrived in Winston-Salem. In 19 games, he only hit .194 and only had two extra base hits out of his 14 base hits.
The White Sox slotted Michalczewski to play third base once again in 2015 with the Winston-Salem Dash. During the 2015 season, Michalczewski improved his defense at third base and has a career best .934 fielding percentage. At the plate, Michalczewski finished the season hitting .259 with a .729 OPS and continued to show power potential, finishing the 2015 campaign with seven home runs. He added 35 doubles and four triples showing the baseball world that there is much more power potential in his bat in seasons to come. The combination of a steadily improving bat and glove have many salivating over his future in the White Sox organization. In order to be successful at the high levels of the minors and in the majors, Michalczewski will have to cut down on his strikeouts at the plate. In 532 at bats he has struck out 21.4% of the time (114 times) which is a huge improvement over his 2014 season when he struck out at a rate 27.8%. If he can continue this improvement he could be on the fast track to the major leagues.
Michalczewski’s season did not end when the Carolina League finished its season. The White Sox invited the third baseman to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Glendale Desert Dogs. At just 20-year-old, Michalczewski was one of the youngest competitors to play in this seasons fall league. While he did not see every day action, he still managed to pick up 44 plate appearances and hit for a .244/295/.366 slash line in his limited opportunity. The experience allowed him a taste of what 2016 has in store when he most likely will be challenged to perform at the Double-A level.
Seven Questions With Trey Michalczewski
1. Take us back to your draft day, what was it like to be drafted? Where were you when you found out?
I was sitting at home and just hanging out with my parents. We weren’t really doing anything special just waiting for a phone call and watching the draft on the computer. It was an anxious yet exciting time. You just don’t know when your name is going to get called or where your going to get taken. When the White Sox called it was a big moment and to know that I would be playing for a great organization like the White Sox was exciting. Once I knew where I would be going I was ready to get going and ready to take the field. Playing in the big leagues is something I always wanted to do since I was a little kid so while this wasn’t that, it was a huge stepping stone and an honor to be drafted.
2. After you were drafted you had a commitment to college, so you had to make a decision. Was it a tough decision to bypass the experience of going to college?
I had a full ride to go to the University of Oklahoma and that certainly was a good option. Once I got drafted and I knew that I would have a chance to play professionally I knew 100% in my heart that is what I wanted to do. It made the decision a pretty easy one for me.
3. What was the biggest adjustment for you going from playing at the high school level to the professional game?
I think the travel. It’s a lot different type of traveling at the professional level. Also just being away from home and the things that a familiar to you such as being around friends and family. I was fortunate enough to play away from home in the summers and a but in high school so I came in somewhat prepared for being away from home. When your away from home you have no one telling you when you should get to bed or when you dinner is. You have to know your body and you have to make sure you’re doing the best things for you. Baseball wise the competition is much better. Every player out of the field is good, everyone was a star somewhere before and you have to make adjustments and be mentally tough and focused to play your best everyday.
4. In high school you primarily played shortstop but at the professional level you have converted over to third base. What is the biggest differences and challenges of learning the new position the last couple of years?
I think positioning and footwork have been the two big things. The ball gets to you a little bit quicker when your playing third base. Those are the two things that have been the big adjustments for me besides that there has not been a whole lot of other adjustments I’ve had to make.
5. Is there anything in particular that you have been working with your coaches and instructors on to improve your game to not only get to the majors but to better prepare yourself for the next level?
I wouldn’t say its one particular thing but a lot of little things. I have a routine of things that I try to stick with that is good for me because you have something to fall back to every single day you just don’t come to the field looking to do different things. I like to hit off of a tee before I hit batting practice. Defensively I like to take ground balls before every game but I always stick to my routine because it helps me prepare myself for the game.
6. How do you prepare for your pitching match up each night? What tools are available for you to use to prepare for the game on a daily basis?
We have a scouting report we receive on the guys we are going to face. In this league especially there isn’t as many teams so you see the pitchers on a more regular basis. It helps you remember what they throw and what they like to do and it can help you prepare for how your going to approach each pitcher.
7. Being a switch hitter, what are the challenges to staying fresh on both sides of the plate?
I try to make sure I’m getting the same amount of reps everyday on both sides of the plate. Depending on the pitcher we are facing that night I may try to get in some more reps from the opposite side of the plate than I’m hitting just to be sure I am staying on top of things. Other than getting in reps there isn’t anything too crazy that I do or you can really do to keep up with hitting from each side.
A Few For Fun
1. Who was your favorite players growing up?
I get asked this question a lot and I really liked watching a lot of guys growing up. I was a big Josh Hamilton guy but I also really liked watching Chipper Jones.
2. What is one random fact about yourself that people may not know?
If I wasn’t playing baseball I would want to be a professional hockey player.
3. Who is your favorite hockey team?
Pittsburgh Penguins – I am a huge Sidney Crosby fan, I would love to meet him at some point.
A special thanks to Trey Michalczewski for taking some time out of his busy regular season schedule talk some baseball prior to his game as the season came to an end. Once again please give him a follow at @ and follow us at @CTD_Sypien as we follow Trey during the season as he works hard to achieve his goals and make progress towards the major leagues.