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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Knights’ Whalberg coming around at shortstop

NASHUA – Go to a Nashua Silver Knights game and you will be watching, in most cases, the complete education of an Oklahoma shortstop.

As expected, Quin Whalberg, the Knights shortstop this season from Edmond, Okla., has gone through some growing pains. Not only is the recent high school graduate competing at a level (college) he had never experienced, he’s in a part of the country he’d never been too. ...

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NASHUA – Go to a Nashua Silver Knights game and you will be watching, in most cases, the complete education of an Oklahoma shortstop.

As expected, Quin Whalberg, the Knights shortstop this season from Edmond, Okla., has gone through some growing pains. Not only is the recent high school graduate competing at a level (college) he had never experienced, he’s in a part of the country he’d never been too.

When he was first told by the University of Oklahoma coaching staff – he’ll be a Sooner freshman in the fall – that they wanted him to play in Nashua in the Futures Collegiate League, his first response was, “That’s pretty far away from home.”

And he’s found out that it was a distance worth the 25-hour drive, which he described as “pretty brutal” right after he arrived.

“I love it up here, it’s awesome,” Whalberg said. “You know, it’s not all that different from what it is back in Oklahoma. You wake up, go to the gym, come to the field to play baseball every day. Living the dream, really.”

Whalberg was ranked as one of the top five high school players in Oklahoma, hitting .470 for the season. Originally, he had committed to Texas Tech, but Sooners new coach Peter Hughes – former Boston College head coach – stole him away. “I’m pretty excited about it,” he said.

And he’s excited about playing in the FCBL.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Fast collegiate baseball. It’s always a difference going from high school baseball to college baseball. Pitchers are faster, better location, better off-speed. But it’s getting in there.”

The difference slowed down Whalberg’s hitting as he began the season with an .087 average. But lately he’s been on a tear; the other night at Seacoast he went 4 for 6 and was hitting .233 at last look.

What was his biggest problem? Location, location, location.

“Trying to figure out where the pitcher’s going to put it,” Whalberg said. “In high school they’re more predictable, and their fastballs aren’t as firm. These guys, they’re not as predictable and their fastballs, when they’re running in on you, they’re pretty difficult to hit.”

Whalberg was all the way up to the middle of the order the other night, where normally he had been in the eighth or ninth spot.

“He’s had some pretty good at bats,” Silver Knights manager Ted Currle said. “He’s battled, battled, battled, and he’s close. It’s always an adjustment for high school kids in this league.

“I think once he does figure it out he could be a good leadoff guy with his speed.”

Whalberg is, well, sometimes an adventure to watch defensively. Right now he’s one of those shortstops who will make the great play and sometimes muddle through the easier ones with a miscue here and there.

“Defensively he’s had some tough luck, I think,” Currle said. “He gets to a lot of balls that other guys don’t. A couple of plays here or there that have been errors that could’ve been questionable. But he’s going to be fine, and right now I think he’s our best option at shortstop.”

Whalberg isn’t homesick by any means but he does talk to home every night.

“Yes sir,” he said. “It’s kind of cool. My grandma in California and my parents in Oklahoma listen to every game if they can. Every time I get off the field I get text messages from my parents ‘Nice game’ or something like that.”

His family will come out to see him in the middle of July, he said. Whalberg said that baseball is “insane” in Oklahoma.

“If you don’t play baseball, you’re pretty much a lone wolf out there,” he said. “It’s probably the best sport to play in Oklahoma, the most intense. It’s probably the most important sport in Oklahoma. More so than football.”

Whalberg won’t miss the 120 degree summer Oklahoma heat.

“This is a pleasure,” he said. “This is amazing to me.”

Notes

Who’s Hot: It’s got to be Quin Whalberg, the Silver Knights shortstop this season from Edmond, Okla., who has raised his average some 170 points in the last week.

Who’s Not: It would have to be starter Jake Mellin, who has given up 10 runs on 19 hits in 14 innings, mainly on the road. Remember, Mellin has always been a better pitcher at Holman.

The Week Ahead: Nashua begins at home Tuesday night vs. Torrington (7:05), then visits Brockton (6:35) on Wednesday, back home vs. North Shore Thursday, at Wachusett (7:05) on Friday and home Saturday night vs. North Shore, 7:05.

A reminder the club will have postgame fireworks on July 3 at Holman. After that, there’s only three more Friday Fireworks games left: July 18, Aug. 1, and the regualr season finale on Aug. 8.