Sophomore baseball player proves valuable in multiple positions
In the world of baseball, specialization is the way of the world. Relief pitchers throw to only one or two batters, and defensive replacements come in for only an inning or two.
All of this specialization makes Rhode Island's Joe Landi an enigma. The sophomore from Smithfield, RI has done everything for the Rams this year.
His 14 starts have been spread around third base, right field and left field. He has 10 hits and seven runs batted in. Landi also has a 3.07 earned run average in 14.2 innings of work out of the bullpen.
Landi does it all, and Rhode Island coach Jim Foster said having a player like Landi has helped his squad this season.
"It's important," Foster said of Landi's versatility. "He's a left-handed hitter, he can run the bases, he plays third, he can play the outfield, he can pitch. He's very valuable.
"Believe it or not he was recruited mostly as a hitter," he added. "He swung the bat really well in high school. We thought he'd end up being a third baseman, but he's turned into many other things for us."
Landi played four years at Smithfield High School, and was named to the All-State team in 2010. Last season as a freshman Landi played sparingly at third base before blooming into a utility player this season.
"I just started pitching this year," Landi said. "Coach told me to work on coming from down low, so I worked on that and now it seems that I'm out there almost every weekend it seems. Wherever coach wants me, that's where I go. I just try to get the job done at every position.
Coming out of high school, Landi was recruited by URI and Marist College in upstate New York. He said he chose to stay home and play for a perennial New England power.
"I wanted to stay close," Landi said. "I didn't want to go too far, and it's a great program here."
Foster said that players like Landi, who can play multiple positions, are a commodity at the professional level.
"At the big league level, that utility position is a true position, and guys get paid for it," Foster said. "They get paid to catch, play first, play some outfield, give a team quality at-bats. It's a legitimate position."
With two-plus seasons remaining, and numerous positions he could play, Landi said that he only wants one thing: a spot in the starting nine.
"Hopefully I can get a starting job; that's always the goal of mine," Landi said. "Who knows, if I keep progressing the way I'm going hopefully I can make it to the next level."
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