Brandon Polizzi gets to wear his favourite number 4 in 2018 after wearing 37 and 2 last season.
The latest guest on C’s Chat is returning Vancouver Canadians outfielder Brandon Polizzi. The 22 year-old from Bellflower, California took time out to participate in his second C’s Chat during the team’s Media Day at Nat Bailey Stadium. You can find his first chat right here.
The right-handed hitting product of Cal-State Dominguez Hills was a key contributor in the post-season for the C’s. He came off the bench to pinch-run for Norberto Obeso in Game 1 of the North Division in the top of the eighth inning in a scoreless game and wound up scoring on a two-run home run by Logan Warmoth.
Polizzi remained in the game as he took over in left field and made a big diving catch in the ninth inning on a line drive by Cristian Inoa with the potential tying run second. That catch helped preserve a 2-1 victory but he was not ready to call it his best work with the leather.
“That’s definitely like in the top 10 but that’s my goal on the outfield, I steal hits from guys. If I don’t hit, you don’t hit – that’s always my philosophy. I’m always looking to take hits away from guys and make a big play here and there.”
Polizzi got the start in Game 2 of the North Division final and collected a hit, a single and two stolen bases as the C’s downed Spokane again by a 2-1 score. The 5-foot-10 right-handed hitter was happy to get the chance to play that night.
“Just getting an opportunity to be here is just a big opportunity. Just to be a part of this team, it’s awesome. Stealing two bases, that’s my game. Put the ball on the ground, put the ball in the gaps, make a single turn into a double, a double into a triple, first to third, first to home. My speed is my biggest part of my game so stealing those two bases and being able to hoist that trophy at the end meant a lot.”
Brandon Polizzi teamed up with the infamous rally skunk during the Northwest League final.
2017 Northwest League Championship
Polizzi says had a lot of fond memories during that playoff run that saw the C’s dethrone the previous league champion Eugene Emeralds.
“A lot of emotions, I could say that. It was very emotional winning the second championship for me. It was just emotional. It was an emotional ride especially with the group of guys we had. Great team chemistry, great guys. We hung out off the field together. We just bonded. I can’t say enough about that team last year.”
In three of the four games of the Northwest League final, Polizzi was called on as a defensive replacement in left field for Obeso. Before that, he donned the infamous rally skunk hat during Game 3 at Nat Bailey Stadium. For Polizzi, it was a case of trying to be a good teammate.
“I try to bring as much good energy and hopefully my teammates feed off that energy. The skunk was actually got by Matty Mo (Matt Morgan). The story was he got sprayed by the skunk (in Tri-City). He was playing (Game 3 of the finals) and somebody was like, ‘Somebody’s got to wear the skunk!’ So somehow it ended up in my lap and I was like, ‘Alright, you know! Why not?’ Since then, I think we were down (a run) I believe in the third game. They gave me the skunk. Somehow we came out, getting (some) runs so it was pretty cool.”
Polizzi was more than thrilled to get his championship ring during spring training from Canadians team president Andy Dunn and assistant general manager Allan Bailey.
“Ah man. Just seeing Andy and Allan coming down to spring training this year was an absolute blast. Seeing the ring, it was absolutely gorgeous. You know, I gave that to my parents actually. That’s the second ring I gave my parents so that’s something from them to say thank you and thank you for letting me live my dream.”
The first ring Polizzi won came with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters of the collegiate Northwoods League in 2016.
Fall Instructional League & The Off-Season
After the season in Vancouver, Polizzi headed down to Dunedin for instructs and felt he really benefited from the experience.
“Instructs was definitely a learning point for me. Some of the adjustments I didn’t make here I made down in instructs. It was pretty cool. I get to see a lot of guys from different levels pitching. Some guys, like rehab guys and all that stuff. It just prepares you for coming in for next season and what it’s actually going to be like. It also prepares you for a long season and for a full-season team so that was actually really good to go to.”
Getting better with the bat was Polizzi’s main focus heading into this season.
“Just getting bigger, stronger, faster. Working on my bat. Glove-wise, arm-wise, I’m not really worried about. Normally my defence is my best thing out there. Normally just my bat. Hitting the ball is the hardest thing to do in baseball so I definitely try to make adjustments to my game.”
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) May 22, 2018
Playing in Lansing
After beginning 2018 in extended spring training, Polizzi was promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts May 16. He played in 11 games before a stint on the 7-day disabled list. Even though he had just three hits in 27 at-bats, Polizzi felt getting a taste of the Midwest League provided a good learning experience.
“It was actually really cool. I got to experience some failure actually. Going there, seeing some really good pitching. Guys throwing 98, 99, a couple of guys throw 102. I got to experience some failure. It actually got me prepared for this season. Just little adjustments I can make with the bat. Little things I didn’t think about I learned up in Lansing so it was actually a really good learning experience.”
Major League Connections
Before heading to Cal-State Dominguez Hills, Polizzi played baseball at Bellflower High School. That was the same school former Blue Jay Anthony Gose attended.
“Me, Anthony and his little brother Andrew, we used to be really close. Just high school, after that we part ways but we actually grew up together. Me, Anthony, Andrew and his sister Tiara. Good family, absolutely love them. Just high school, we part ways and that was that.”
Polizzi had previously connected with fellow Cal-State Dominguez Hills Toro and 2011 Vancouver Canadian Kevin Pillar but he found another Blue Jay to connect with this spring.
“Actually, me and Troy Tulowitzki have been in contact. Me and him had been working out and hitting together. Really good guy. You want to talk about a student of the game, that guy is intense and I love that so just getting to talk to him and learn from him was pretty cool.”
Polizzi says he is confident the 2018 C’s will have a good year.
“I expect a lot of big things out of us. We’re going to a be a team that, you know, we’re going to have to put the ball in play pretty well. We’re not going to be a home run hitting team like we were last year with Kacy (Clemens), David Jacob and guys like those. We’re going to have to get the job done doing small ball and doing the small things right. I expect a lot of big things out of my teammates and I hope they expect a lot of big things out of me.”