Navigating a new path: Van Cleve plays in NWL instead of Minors

Power hitter getting regular at-bats with Growlers
Posted at 2:36 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 16:52:14-04
Navigating a new path: Van Cleve playing in NWL instead of minors

Not that long ago Ben Van Cleve thought he was in for a big summer.

His Ole Miss baseball team was off to a 16-1 start before the season was canceled because of COVID-19.

"We saw a serious chance at Omaha this year," Van Cleve said. "We thought that was something that was definitely reachable. It was very emotional, it was very heartbreaking. Saw a lot of guys break down and get upset including myself."

Tough break. Throw in the fact that Van Cleve thought he could be drafted had the Major League Baseball draft stayed at its traditional 40 rounds, instead it was shortened to five.

"I was hoping to get drafted and be done with college baseball but things didn't turn out that way," Van Cleve said. "Thankfully we got the year of eligibility back so now I've got another chance to get drafted next year."

No College World Series, no pro baseball. Still, Van Cleve seems undeterred.

"It is just part of baseball," Van Cleve said. "It is a part of handling adversity, it is a part of everything I've dealt with my whole life. It is just playing baseball, getting back into the groove of things, got to refocus and reset for the next year starting."

A big part of that preparation is playing in the Northwoods League this summer with the Growlers.

Van Cleve had a hit in eight of the 11 games he played at school in the spring and was batting .385.

After almost four months off, it took a bit to get back into form.

"What we have seen from him is he is getting better every single night," Cody Piechocki, the Growlers Field Manager said. "He's, I think, picked up seven or eight RBIs just in the last week so he is getting to that point where he can take over a game any night which is what we want to see out of those premiere power five type of players."

"I'm focused on getting good contact," Van Cleve added. "Solid contact because when I first got here I was getting jammed on a bunch of pitches I was chopping balls in the ground and I'm finally getting balls in the air again which is good. It's just about finding the barrel and finding a rhythm."

Van Cleve and the Growlers have climbed to within a game of the first place Bombers entering play on Monday.