Madison, WI – February 23, 2009. The Mallards are excited to announce the team has signed St. John’s freshman infielder Joe Panik, the New York State Class AA career hits champion (149) who played at John Jay High School in South Salem. The left-handed hitting youngster is the starting shortstop for the Red Storm this spring, and began his collegiate career in impressive fashion this past weekend, hitting a triple in his first at-bat. Through the first three games he went 4-for-11 with five runs, four RBIs, three walks, and one stolen base.
St. John’s Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer says that while Panik will go through the ups-and-downs any freshman collegiate baseball player would normally experience, he believes Joe has the natural tools to get through any slump.
“We think Joe is a very advanced baseball player and brings a refreshing amount of maturity for a freshman heading into his first season,” said Blankmeyer.
Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke compares Panik to former St. John’s alum Mike Rozema who also played in Madison during the 2003 season, hitting .300 with 32 stolen bases that summer. Rozema has since been named to the Mallards All-Time Team comprised of the best players from the team’s first eight years.
“Rozema was the type of player who enjoyed doing the little things to win ballgames, and from all accounts, I’ve heard that Joe is that same type of player,” said Thieleke.
“Mike’s speed and overall baseball knowledge won us a number of games in 2003 and we expect Joe to do the same for us this summer.”
Interestingly enough, a local deli server on St. John’s campus made the same comparison this past fall—but in a different way.
Said Panik, “Our team was visiting a local deli after practice one day and one of the workers came up to me and said that I looked like Mike Rozema—which is fine by me since Mike had one of the better careers at St. John’s and had an impact season with the Malllards as well.”
“I have big shoes to fill but my main goal this summer is to improve upon every facet of my game while trying to win a Northwoods League Championship for the city of Madison. I just can’t wait to get started.”