Top 100: Joe Koshansky, Baseball

Top 100: Joe Koshansky, Baseball

Joe Koshansky was able to sum up his career as a baseball player at Chantilly High School in just one sentence: "I pitched pretty well and I hit a few home runs."

Koshansky, who graduated in 2000, did much more for his team than pitch a few scoreless innings and hit a few over the fence.

In his junior year for the Chargers, Koshansky pitched in nine of the team's 20 wins. He finished the year with a 0.93 earned run average and with the bat, Koshansky hit .438 with 11 runs batted in.

"In his last two years [on the team], we were 39-9," said former Chantilly head coach Tim Gordon. "He was a good leader. The guys wanted to play behind him."

Koshansky only improved in his senior year. He finished with a 1.03 ERA and a 9-1 record. He also recorded a .447 batting average and hit three home runs.

"Most of his success was because of his work ethic," said Gordon. "He kept on working and working to be better."

In both his junior and senior years, Koshansky's Chargers fell in the semifinal round of the regional tournament. Koshansky pitched in both games.

"Those experiences probably helped me more than all the wins," he said. "I had so much success that losing those games made me realize that losing is going to happen and it made me a better player."

WITH HIS performance on the mound and in the batter's box, Koshansky collected many awards during his time at Chantilly. He was a two-time Concorde District Player of the Year and was Northern Region Player of the Year in his senior year. He was named the Most Valuable Player in his last two years with the team. Koshansky said that he is most proud of the Northern Region Player of the Year honor.

"Coming out of Northern Virginia, that's a big deal," he said. "There are so many talented teams in the area."

His success at Chantilly earned him an athletic scholarship to the University of Virginia,where he was excited to be able to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference against "some of the best talent in the country."

Coming in as a freshman, Koshansky was unable to get many at bats or innings on the mound. He finished his first year with a 4-6 record as a pitcher and a .133 average at the plate.

"I've always been a hitter that needed to get consistent swings and at bats," he said.

Koshansky was able to increase his playing time during his sophomore year, but still struggled.

"I had a lot of success in high school, but it was just a different ball game and I had to learn how to compete at that level," he said.

Things began to click in his junior year at UVA. Both his pitching performance and batting increased dramatically. His batting average jumped to .320 and he finished the year with a 7-2 record on the mound with at 2.31 ERA.

"I matured," he said. "I got bigger and stronger and I matured as a player. Being able to play consistently helped."

It was in his junior year of college that his power began to develop. He hit nine home runs and had a .562 slugging percentage in his junior year, compared to one home run and a .267 slugging percentage the previous year.

"I've always had a lot of power," said Koshansky. "It is just a matter of getting my swing locked."

His junior year performance began to attract professional baseball scouts, but they were concerned that his performance was a fluke. Koshansky banished any doubt of his ability with his senior year at UVA. He again batted over .300 and hit 16 home runs with 67 RBI. On the mound, he finished with a 8-3 record and a 2.98 ERA.

His performance earned him First Team All-ACC honors, a selection to the ACC All Tournament Team and a more serious look from scouts. Koshansky's strong numbers during his senior year showed the scouts that he would be able to play at the next level.

Koshansky was drafted in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Colorado Rockies in 2005 and has been steadily moving up the Minor League ranks.

UNLIKE HIS first two years of college, Koshansky has wasted no time making a name for himself at the professional level. Last year, he hit 36 home runs at Single-A Asheville and was moved up to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers at the end of the year. While no longer a pitcher, Koshansky has settled into his role as a first-baseman for the Drillers. At Chantilly and UVA, he played first base when he wasn't on the mound.

"I was just happy to get an opportunity to play," he said of the decision to stop pitching. "They told me that I was going to play first and work on that and I said, 'Okay, lets do it.'"

Koshansky has continued his success this year with the Drillers, batting over .300 with 20 home runs. He was chosen to play in the 2006 XM Satellite Radio Futures Game. As for breaking into the Majors, Koshansky hopes that he will make the jump, "sooner, rather than later."

Gordon believes that his former player is ready for the challenge.

"From looking at his stats, it looks like he's ready," he said.

Joe Koshansky is 59 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.