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Published On: February 7th, 2005

Name: Jeremiah Piepkorn
Age: 23
Date of Birth: 2/18/81
Height: 6’4 Weight: 200 lbs.
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Position: 3B/LF
Team: Dayton Dragons (Class A Affiliate, Cincinnati Reds)

How do you feel your time in the Northwoods League prepared you for Minor League Baseball?

I think by starting to swing the wood bats it gets you ready for the "Bigs.” You get to see some pretty good, legit pitching and you’re playing everyday. It really does prepare you for this.

What would you tell a player that is coming to the league for the first time?

I guess be prepared to not know what to expect. Come into the league and set some goals for yourself. When I first came into the league, I played half a season and didn’t really set any goals, I didn’t know what to do. Then, for me being from North Dakota, I knew I had to have a good summer to get noticed in a pretty good league. So I guess what I would tell the guys’ is set goals where you can reach them and just enjoy it. Enjoy your time there.

What about guys that are returning?

They should know what to expect and how to handle things. They know they’re going to be playing everyday and how to be able to handle themselves before and after the games. Just come in knowing what to look for and what to expect both on and off the field and they should do alright.

In 2003 you led the NWL in hits(75) and the MoonDogs in basically every offensive category, to what do you attribute that success?

It was my second year so I think some experience helped. Also, I really tried to be in as good as shape as I possibly could be and be disciplined at the plate. I tried not to take hacks at bad pitches and tried to get a bunch of pitches to see. I always thought they (the pitcher) would screw up eventually and if you can wait it out and get a pitch you can handle, then drive it. I was pretty happy with the pitches I chose to hit and made pretty good contact throughout the year

After that season, you returned to NDSU to hit .376 with 17 doubles, four triples, 21 homeruns and 56 RBI. You set career records in hits, runs, triples, homeruns and RBI. Was that success a carry over from your season in Mankato?

Definitely. I would say swinging wood bats everyday really helped and also I learned how to hit for power. I mean the year before at school I only hit like 14 homers, and I was 6’2 195 lbs as a junior. Then just in the spring of my senior year, I put on an inch and gained 10 lbs. and it all just came together.

Another thing I’d say helped would be going from seeing the good pitching I did over the summer to maybe not as high of a caliber up at school where their 1’s and 2’s were pretty legit, but 3’s and 4’s weren’t as much. You know, people didn’t know who I was and they would pitch to me and then conference play came along and I didn’t get a pitch to hit.

At NDSU you were a shortstop, for the MoonDogs you played shortstop, first base and outfield, and then last year with the Dragons you played both third base and left field. Where did you expect to play this season and where are you most comfortable at?

To start, I am expecting to be back in Dayton probably playing third and left again. When I signed they told me I would be playing quite a bit of left, but wound up playing more at third. I went in prepared to not play short, I still took some fungo’s there during practice but knew I wasn’t going to be playing there.

As far as a comfort level, I am a little less comfortable at third I guess. Before last year I didn’t really understand all the intricate parts of being a third baseman. There are different coaches and a lot of extra work that goes into that position. There are certain ways to move to your left, to your right, how to charge a ball and more where as in the outfield you just have to fly to the ball and get it in as fast as you can.

You signed with the Cincinnati Reds on May 18, 2004 as a free agent prior to MLB’s June amateur draft. Did that give you a strong peace of mind?

Actually, yeah. I was hoping to sign before the draft and get everything taken care of. I thought that if I had a good year at school it would give me some options, and being a fifth year senior out of North Dakota I wanted to have as many options as I could, and it happened.

Do you think you made the right choice by signing and not entering the draft?

Well you never know how the draft is going to work out. I was the top pick from North or South Dakota according to Baseball America, but I would rather have the opportunity to choose between a few teams then to take my chances again in the draft. Plus, by signing I could go straight to playing again, rather than waiting until June and then going in late to the season.

Why did you choose the Reds?

I chose Cincy because the Dodgers had offered me High A ball in Vero Beach but basically said if it didn’t come in and get it done right away I would be done. You know, Minnesota didn’t give me that good of an offer, and I really would have liked to play for the Twins being a hometown kid. Philly offered a chance to play at their advanced rookie ball league, but over all the Reds had the best option. I told myself I wanted to play as high up as I could and have as many chances to progress as possible.

When you made it to Dayton you started a little slow but were heating up when an injury ended your season. What happened?

Well, I got food poisoning. I think I got in when we were in Wisconsin somewhere. We had just got back from a 3-game road trip and I wasn’t feeling well, so I sat out a few games and then I finally decided to play. That night I could really feel myself getting worse, it’s like when you get the flu and your whole body starts to hurt slowly but surely, yeah that’s exactly how it felt. So I went home that night, just in pain and woke up the next morning still in pain. I’m talking pain so bad I couldn’t get out of bed for three days so I knew something was really wrong.

So I went to the field to talk to the doctors and they took me to the ER because they thought I had appendicitis. I stayed that night, they took out my appendix and then they sent me home. The next morning I was still in the same amount of pain and I ended up going back into the hospital for another 3 days. That’s when they realized it was food poisoning, not appendicitis.

Basically, they took my appendix out for nothing and ended my season in July. Before all of this started I was at like 205 lbs. and by the end of it I was down to 170 lbs. I couldn’t do any kind of physical activities for almost two months because I might rupture the stitches and stuff in my stomach, I couldn’t eat healthy for a while, it was just a bad deal all the way around.

How long do you think it will be before your back to 100 percent?

I’m close now. I would say that I’m a little lighter that I was but am about as strong. I lift five days a week and work hard because I have to put all that muscle back on. I’m getting there but just not quite as thick as I used to be, I’ve got about 10 more pounds to go, give or take a little.

What do you use as a work out routine, one that is provided by the Reds or one you created?

Well they do provide something online. It’s like a whole packet of information from weight training, to conditioning, to nutrition and a whole bunch of stuff. It’s nearly 150 pages of information, so I use most of their stuff but then I work even harder to put on what I lost. If I wouldn’t have gotten sick, I would probably just use what they gave me but like I said I need to get back to where I was.

Who would you say you most try and emulate on the field?

If I had to pick one person I think it would be Alex Rodriguez. I just like the way he plays, his confidence, the way he carries himself. He goes about his business and gets it done. He’s not cocky or arrogant about things, other than that Varitek incident. I’m not saying my abilities are anywhere near his but his style of lead-by-example is the way I try to play.

Who is the toughest pitcher you can remember facing?

I think the one that comes to mind is Martinez (J.P. Martinez, St. Cloud River Bats 2003). He threw this cutter and it would be right there and then it was gone. It was ridiculous. I think it was because he would come in late and you couldn’t get a good read on him.

What about Diamond(Thomas Diamond, St. Cloud River Bats 2003)?

With Diamond you know what you were gonna get. It was gonna be hard and fast, but sometimes it was easy to pick up the ball out of his hand. Don’t get me wrong he was pretty much head and shoulders above everyone else, but only had three pitches and you could see them. It would be a fastball, change or curve and that was it.

Where would you say your sweet spot is?

I love the ball middle-inn. When a pitcher hangs a change up or tries to come inside, I know I can get my hands through the zone and handle those pitches.

Are there any former MoonDogs you still talk to?

I talk to Moll (Aaron Moll, 03) and still talk to Lando ( Landon Danelson, 03) every once in a while, we had a lot of fun together. Obviously I still talk to Baso (Chris Baso, 03) and sometimes Starfish (Travis Johnson 03).

What do you do to mentally prepare for a game?

I guess I just picture myself doing good things. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do good. I feel like a lot of the time, if I don’t do good then the team won’t do good. I never want to let my team down so I always try to visualize something positive.

Baseball is a game of failure and you need to accept that. A-Rod, Jeter, everybody makes mistakes and when you get beat or make a mistake you have to learn to handle it. You have to think positive and say O.K. I missed that one but the next time I’m gonna make that play or one that’s even harder.

What are you doing now?

I’m teaching. I got my degree in both elementary and secondary education and I’ve been up here (Pequot Lakes, MN) since the end of summer. I do more teaching in classrooms then I do in phy-ed classes.

Finally, how did you first hear about the MoonDogs?

Now that’s a funny story. I was in the middle of the mall in St. Cloud, about to walk into a Great Clips when Rusty (McLain, 02 MoonDogs Manager) saw me. I was wearing shorts, flip-flops and a cut-off shirt from an old fall league and he came over and said "Do you play?” and I said yeah, shortstop for North Dakota State. Then he says to me "Can you flip it?” I didn’t know what to say but he took my name and number and said he would call me.

You know, actually I really had wanted to play for the River Bats, being close to home in all, and that night I was playing amateur ball when their owner (River Bats) came and watched me play. I was like 3-3 with 3 stolen bases and he told me flat out yeah you can play but we don’t have a spot for you right now. The next day Rusty called and said I was in and then they picked me up on their way to Alexandria on the side of the highway right by St. Johns. I got on the bus and only D.B.(Donnell Boyer) knew who I was and Rusty stands up and says "This is the player to be named.” Now mind you, it was half way into the season, everyone had been playing together for a while and I just got thrown into the mix, it’s kind of the way this year worked when I came to Dayton.

Anyways back to the story, so I played that night and after the game one of the guys came up to me with a cell phone and said "it’s for you.” I thought it was a joke but it was the owner of the River Bats saying their shortstop had been injured that night and wanted me to come play for them. But I think everything worked out in the end, and I really enjoyed my time in Mankato