Former Mountaineer Grant Buckner making most of chances in White Sox organization
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 21:05
This time last year, Grant Buckner saw his collegiate baseball career come to an end after a defeat in the Big East Conference tournament.
But fast forward 12 months and the Elkview, W.Va., native is still playing baseball, now at the professional level.
Buckner was drafted in the 26th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Chicago White Sox after an illustrious career at West Virginia University.
He is currently an infielder for the Kannapolis Intimidators – the Single-A affiliate of the White Sox.
The first few months have been a roller-coaster ride, but Buckner has taken it all in.
"I was in extended spring training for a week or so to start the year, and I was a little bummed about that," Buckner said. "But I played well there, so I came up pretty quickly. Ever since I’ve been up here, I love it. I love the Kannapolis area. I’m just getting adjusted to Single-A ball."
Despite only playing at the Minor League level for a couple months, Buckner has already found the major difference between college baseball and professional baseball.
"In college, you go to class in the morning and maybe hang out in the afternoon before a game or practice," Buckner said. "But here, it’s just baseball only."
The constant time investment into baseball has made the adjustment process a bit difficult.
"The hardest thing I’ve had to adjust to is not letting one game bother you," Buckner said. "You’re going to play every single night. If you have a rough night, you just have to accept it, learn from it and move on."
Another challenge Buckner has faced is becoming acquainted with the quality of pitching in the pros.
"Each level you notice a little bit of difference. Pitchers are a little bit different, and will throw different stuff," he said. "But it’s going well. I’m starting to fill each team out. I’ve learned that every organization has its own philosophies and ways to pitch."
Even though he has been in uncharted territory, Buckner has still posted respectable numbers in his rookie season.
He’s batting .271 this season with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 29 games. He credits effective preparation as a Mountaineer for his early success.
"I didn’t realize it at the time, but playing at WVU and for that coaching staff fully prepared me for this level," Buckner said.
As he alluded to earlier, a baseball season is very long and grueling. It is a matter of staying focused and finding a way to produce.
If Buckner wants to get the call up to the next level, he knows exactly what he needs to do.
"It’s consistency. You always hear that in baseball, but it’s so true," Buckner said. "You have to learn to produce on a daily basis. That’s what I’ve been working on the most, and that’s what it’s going to take to progress."