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Winfield High catcher poised for breakout year at, behind plate


By Nick Brockman

Putnam Review

Following rigorous strength training during the offseason, Winfield High School catcher Aaron Blackwell says he sees gains in his game skills for the 2017 season. Photo courtesy Jack Withrow

From behind the plate, Winfield catcher Aaron Blackwell sees the entire baseball field, and this season his coach envisions a breakout year.

Blackwell returned this year for his second season as the Generals signal caller. After establishing himself last year as a solid defensive player, Winfield coach Will Isaacs said he expects the offense to follow.

“From a defensive standpoint, he throws the ball really well,” Isaacs said. “He throws it as well as anybody in the area, but he didn’t hit very well last year. I think that’s going to change. I look for him to have a really good season offensively.

“He’s really gotten stronger over this offseason. Over this winter, he never missed lifting and he’s really gotten stronger, which has obviously helped his throwing and running ability, but I definitely look for him to hit the ball more, extra-base hits and that type of thing.”

Last season, Blackwell hit fifth in Winfield’s lineup, and he’s expected again to be used in the middle of the batting order. To increase his power and consistency, Blackwell dedicated himself to the weight room during the offseason.

“Every time I come to the weight room, I worked as hard as I possibly could,” Blackwell said. “What’s the point of coming to weights if you’re not going to go as hard as you possibly can?

“I think I’m seeing the ball travel a lot farther. I think I’ve made some gains for sure, definitely.”

In addition to his arm, Blackwell excels with his work ethic.

“The thing about Aaron is he’s a high-effort guy in everything that he does,” Isaacs said. “He leads by his effort and his example. He’s always asking for extra hitting and that type of thing. He’s one of those guys that wears big league jerseys to school, because he’s a baseball guy. He’s a baseball guy through and through, so he’s a pleasure to have on our team.”

Blackwell listed arm strength and the trust of his pitchers among his best baseball attributes.

“I’m really confident in my throws to second and third,”’ Blackwell said, “also blocking and my pitchers rely on me.

“All the pitching staff, we’re best friends. We all hang out together at lunch and outside of school, so I’m really close with the whole team. We’re all close friends. We have that bond.”

In his second year starting, buoyed by a solid arm and his dedication to strength, Blackwell said he enjoys watching the game unfold from his viewpoint.

“You can see everything that’s going on,” he said. “It’s a lot easier when you see the whole field. It’s a big advantage.”


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