Q&A With Winona State Commit Jacob Watzka

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor – Wisconsin/Illinois

Jacob Watzka (Green Bay EasyJacob Watzka, 2015) is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher who has come into his own in 2014. Watzka made big strides and had a fruitful winter, culminating with a commitment to Winona State.

Here’s a peek at our conversation with Watzka.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Watzka: I really didn't know what to expect. I just thought that you played your best, and if you were good enough, a coach would see you and maybe want you to play for their college. What I didn't realize until the end of my junior year, is that the more recruiting events (showcases and camps) you go to, the more coaches can see you. So it wasn't really what I expected at first. I would say overall, it was a pretty tough process; especially narrowing down the schools.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Watzka: I was looking for an affordable college, where I can get a great education, and compete at a high level. I wanted coaches who are easy to talk to, know how to win, and can develop me into the best player I can be.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Watzka: I would definitely say that location and distance from home played a factor. There were other schools that I'm sure were great places, but I didn't get a chance to visit them because of how far away they were. Winona is far enough away where I can start to feel more independent and learn how to do things on my own, but close enough where I can still go back home occasionally.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Watzka: The recruiting process started to heat up for me towards the end of this past summer. I started to get a bunch of calls from numbers that I didn't know, which turned out to be college coaches. In the beginning of the summer, there was a showcase in Franklin, Wisconsin which I felt was the event that turned the corner for me. Many of the coaches from the calls that I was receiving said that's where they saw me.

PBR: Where did the Winona State first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Watzka: They first saw me at a showcase at Players Choice in Appleton, WI. A few days after, the assistant coach Pat Reilly gave me a call and said they were interested in me and wanted to set up a campus visit. The showcase was right before the holidays, so the visit wasn't for a while. Two weeks before my visit, they saw me again at a camp at GRB Academy and restated their interest. They did a nice job of keeping contact with me that whole time and letting me know that they were excited to get me on campus. Once I was on campus and got to talk to them extensively, I could see that they were easy to talk to, friendly guys, and they cared about me as an individual; I wasn't just a guy filling a roster spot.

PBR: What do you like most about Winona State and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Watzka: I don't think there is one specific thing I like most. It was everything that I was looking for in a college and felt like the right fit. The key factors for me were the level of competition, distance from home, affordability, and coaches.

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Watzka: I would say the final three were Winona State, La Crosse, and Stevens Point.

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?

Watzka: The best player I have faced in my state in my opinion is Connor Rutherford. Last year when my high school team played De Pere, he was like 3 for 4 off me with a dinger.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Watzka: I had always hoped that I would get a chance to play college baseball, but I didn't actually know for sure if I was good enough until the first time a college coach emailed me.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Watzka: You have to put in the work and you have to want to get better. Stay after practice for an extra round of BP or ground balls, lift weights and run to get in better shape, focus on everything you do and make sure you are getting quality reps. Another huge thing, is being coachable. You have to listen to your coaches in order to get better and reach your goals.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Watzka: The most memorable moment in my baseball career was pitching against my high school team's rival, Green Bay Preble last season. We won that game and then beat them again later during the season, but we had to play them again for our regional game and lost.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Watzka: We should be pretty good. We have a lot of talent this year, it’s just a matter of everyone working as a team and playing selfless baseball. Last year we only won six games, but this year, we're looking to make our mark in the FRCC.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Watzka: In the summer, I play for the Wisconsin Panthers. My most memorable experience with them is playing at the University of Notre Dame. They have a beautiful field and it was incredible to get to play on it with my teammates.

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