Senior Mike Garzillo of the Lehigh baseball team is a Major League Baseball draft prospect. A Brown and White reporter sat down with Garzillo to discuss his thoughts on baseball, the team and why he chose Lehigh.
Q: What was it like to win the Patriot League Championship last year and participate in the NCAA Tournament?
Mike Garzillo: It’s a pretty surreal experience just because it’s something that’s been a goal for our program, to win a championship, since I got here my freshman year. Falling short my freshman year and not even making playoffs, and then my sophomore year we made it to the championship and lost. It was pretty rewarding when we could make it back to the championship my junior year and win a championship. And then obviously going down to (Louisiana State University) was an awesome experience as well. Any time you get to play a baseball program like that, it’s a pretty special thing.
Q: What was it like in the 2015 season for you where you had even more success, leading the league in home runs and RBI and received a lot accolades?
MG: I would just say we had really awesome team chemistry last year and to be able to go out and play every day with guys that I look at like family, it was really cool to be able to contribute and see my teammates contribute as well.
Q: What was it like to be drafted by the Yankees, and why did you decide to turn that down?
MG: It was really cool being drafted by the Yankees. You grow up as a kid and you have a favorite team and you always want to play professional baseball, so when you finally get that opportunity it’s a pretty surreal experience. But I’m very excited to come back to Lehigh this year and play and hopefully win another championship.
Q: Do you plan on being drafted again or do you have other plans?
MG: I hope so, that’s been my goal and my dream since I was a little kid, so hopefully I get that opportunity again to get drafted and start my professional baseball career.
Q: What was it like this year breaking the Patriot League record for most doubles?
MG: It’s a pretty cool record, but I think the person who had it before me was Matt McBride, he was a Lehigh baseball player who’s in the Oakland Athletics organization right now. He had the record, and he only played three seasons here, so it just shows you how talented of a baseball player he was to hold that record. I have a full year on him and I’m just breaking it now.
Q: What has been a key part of your success at Lehigh?
MG: My support system with my family, my teammates and my coaches. Listening to the advice that they give and continuing to trust the process goes a long way.
Q: What has been the highlight of your Lehigh career?
MG: Definitely winning the championship last year. Watching Nick Macaione strike out the last batter for Navy and then just dog piling there. It was everything that we’ve always wanted coming together in one moment, so it was a pretty awesome experience.
Q: How has your career at Lehigh made you a better player?
MG: I would say plate discipline is probably the biggest thing. You learn to not just swing at pitches you can hit, you learn to swing at pitches you can drive so that will help you hit more home runs, help you hit more doubles, things like that.
Q: Is there anything that you have really focused on improving this season?
MG: Everything. Baseball is the kind of sport where you can’t really perfect anything and you’re constantly making adjustments. You can never say “I’m good at this, I don’t have to work on it anymore.” It’s a constant process and constantly working on every part of your game to get better at it.
Q: Do you have any personal goals for this season?
MG: Just to win another championship.