Photo: Villanova

Emling's show of power in PGCBL

Summer Collegiate : : Story
Hudson Belinsky        
Published: Friday, July 12, 2013

Yesterday, Luke Emling crushed his seventh home run for the Adirondack Trail Blazers this summer. Not only is Emling leading the league in home runs, he’s running away with the league lead; no other player in the PGCBL has more than four home runs. The Villanova rising sophomore has 22 hits this season, and 12 of those hits have gone for extra bases.

Villanova Head Coach Joe Godri isn’t surprised by Emling’s offensive outburst.

He has tremendous power—as much power as maybe anyone in our league—and you’re seeing some of the numbers he’s putting up this summer. The good thing for us is he’s only going to be a sophomore.”

As amazing as Emling’s power is, his story might be even more fascinating. When he was in high school, Emling was recruited as a pitcher. With an upper-80s fastball, Emling was, and still is, a promising prospect on the mound. He was thought of more as a pitcher who could hit, but now he’s asserting himself as a hitter who can pitch.

At Villanova, Godri did whatever he could to get Emling’s bat in the lineup. The Wild Cats had a crowded outfield, so Emling was inserted mostly as a designated hitter, getting time in the outfield only sparingly. This summer, the Trail Blazers are giving Emling the opportunity to work on every aspect of his game.

When you transfer over to playing daily and you realize that you’re not getting taken out of the lineup, it becomes a lot easier to become more relaxed and you’re able to see pitches better and just sit back and wait on your pitch,” Emling said. “Just being in a rhythm, it helps you to get more hits, see the ball better.”

Emling’s also seeing progress in the outfield, where he’s hoping to earn some playing time next season at Villanova. He has an excellent arm, and he played the outfield all through high school.

On the mound, Godri still sees upside for Emling.

We’re trying to cultivate him into kind of a back end of the bullpen guy. We’re kind of experimenting with him, maybe dropping him down into a submarine type guy. He throws hard and he has a good fastball.”

Emling’s control isn’t quite where Godri would like it and while he possesses prodigious power, he’s still coming along in terms of hitting for average. Emling is still a raw player, but he has tremendous upside on both sides of the game.

For now, Emling is enjoying his time in upstate New York, where the Trail Blazers are drawing excellent crowds this season, their inaugural summer in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Going into next season, the sky is the limit for this powerful prospect.

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