Unsigned senior spotlight: Joe Gentile, Catcher (Defiance High School)

By Dylan Hefflinger

Joe Gentile, Catcher (Defiance High School)Joe Gentile, Catcher

Joe Gentile is an unsigned senior who plays for the D-II No. 1 ranked Defiance Bulldogs (29-1). Gentile, the two-hole hitter, is hitting .380 on the season with eight doubles, one home run, 33 RBI, .496 OBP and slugging .500. With runners on base Gentile is hitting at a .459 clip, highest among starters for the Bulldogs. Gentile is fourth among starters batting .407 with runners in scoring position. Gentile has some speed and base running ability with 18 stolen bases, being caught just two times.

Defensively Gentile has caught some of the top pitchers in the state of Ohio, Anthony Kidston (Louisville recruit), Robert Zeigler (Kentucky recruit), and Dace Kime (Louisville pitcher, who was also drafted). This season Gentile was able to throw out 5 of 13 runners. I personally have registered his pop times between 2.0-2.27.

In 2011 for the 21-4 Bulldogs, Gentile batted .390, second highest on the team. Joe was 9 for 12 on stolen base attempts. With runners on base Joe batted .441 and with runners in scoring position .500.

Academically Gentile has a 4.3 GPA and scored a 31 on the ACT.

Q&A with Joe Gentile:

1. How old were you when you started playing baseball, and what memories of playing as a youth?

I was 3 years old when I started playing baseball. I remember my very first at-bat in my first little league practice, our strongest pitcher (Craig Gutman) hit me with a pitch. This was my first view of a pitch that wasn’t thrown from a coach. I remember that I actually swung at it but the coach gave me first anyways because I didn’t know that if you swung it was still a strike even if it hit you.

2. What interest have you received thus far from colleges?

I have received some interest from a few schools. Heidelberg has shown the most interest.

3. What has been your biggest highlight playing for Defiance?

Being a part of something bigger than myself. We have a saying that no one is bigger than the program and it’s true. So far we have 59 straight league wins and that comes from being a tremendous program. It’s fun to look back at all the teams and all the players that have made Defiance Baseball what it is today and realizing that my teammates and I are apart of that. It’s very humbling and exciting at the same time.

4. Where have you improved the most as a player since entering high school?

My athleticism. I came into high school on the heavier side but thanks to Coach Held and Coach Weaver and our workout regimen I have gotten a lot healthier and much more athletic. It’s a heck of a lot easier to work on the skills of the game when you don’t have to worry about your fitness holding you back.

5. Where do you feel you need the most improvement at this time?

Personally, I consider myself a perfectionist and none of the aspects of my game are near perfect. So I would say that I need to improve in everything.

6. What has your coach, Tom Held, been able to help you with in terms of your hitting and playing the game of baseball as a whole?

Besides his infamous throwing program, Coach Held has really stressed the mental side of the game. He has made sure that everyone on the field knows exactly what is going on at all times which puts us in a position to capitalize at any moment. As a program, we don’t run for making physical mistakes like booting a ball but rather we run for general mental errors. Coach Held has also taught me how much work it takes to be your best and I credit any work ethic I have to him for pushing me every minute to do better.

7. How do you feel you can benefit a college baseball program?

I know that wherever I end up I will bring a hard work ethic, a knowledge of the game, and a high level of competitiveness. I will try to benefit the team in any way I can and push others to raise their level of competition to new heights.

8. Who are some of the best players you have shared the field with?

Well skill-wise, Dace Kime, Anthony Kidston, and Robert Zeigler have all of the skills to make it as far as they want to go in baseball, and Jacob Moore is the best infielder I have ever seen.  However, all of the people I’ve had the privilege to play with these years have been phenomenal individuals. All of them have had a great effect on me as a ball player and as a person.

9. Who has been the toughest pitcher you've went up against?

So far the hardest pitcher to hit against has to be Dace Kime. He came back in the summer and we hit against him in practice. It was impossible how good his stuff was. Dace would either blaze a fastball right by you or buckle your knees with his 12-6.

10. What are your plans as far as baseball this summer and what was the most enjoyable part of playing last summer?

This summer I will be playing for the Napoleon River Bandits. We play around here and in Minnesota and California. The most enjoyable part of playing last year has to be a tie between making an appearance at the state tourney and hanging out with my teammates during rain delays. There are some really crazy games you can play during a rain delay!

11. Who has had the most influence on your baseball career?

My father and Coach Held have both really had a big impact on my baseball career thus far. My dad played minor league ball and he has taught me everything he knows about the game. He has spent hours upon hours upon hours with me in the cage and on the field. I can’t credit him enough for the person and player I am today. Coach Held has always pushed me to be the best I can be. He has given me the tools to get better and made sure I used them. I can’t even begin to explain the impact he has had on me.

12. Thoughts on the upcoming tournament run?

Go blue!

13. If baseball ended tomorrow, you would?

Not know what to do.

14. What is something that baseball fans would be surprised to learn about Joe Gentile?

I have read every Harry Potter and Hunger Games book. I’m a little bit of a book worm.