CBB talks with Mik Aoki (Boston College)

Mik Aoki (BC HEAD COACH)The College Baseball Blog continues our series of interviews with head coaches with Mik Aoki of Boston College. He is entering his second season as the head coach of the BC program. He led them to a 24-27-1 record including a conference mark of 12-17 which was only 1.5 games out of eighth place. The Eagles return two weekend starters in Terry Doyle and Dan Houston but lost a ton of position players to graduation so there is some roster spots to fill.

1. Boston College returns two of their top four starters from a team which went 24-27-1 and 12-17 in a tough ACC. Who do you expect to fill into Nate Jeanes and Kevin Boggan’s spots in the rotation?

Clearly, we expect that Terry Doyle will stay healthy and that he will return to the form of his sophomore year. Having said that I think Terry was pretty good at times last year, he just lacked the consistency he had a sophomore. I expect one of the other spots to be filled by Dan Houston who had a tremendous summer in the Coastal Plains and a really good fall. The third spot will be determined from a group of four or five which includes Nick Asselin, Ted Ratliff, Kurt Hayer, JB MacDonald and John Leonard. That will be determined by our scrimmages in the Bubble as well as the 10 non-conference games we play prior to opening up in the ACC down in Miami.

2. BC lost their entire outfield and two infielders to graduation/not playing baseball anymore (Johnny Ayers not listed on roster). What young players do you expect to fill the middle infield roles left open with the loss of Ryan Hutchinson and Joe Ayers? How about with the loss of your entire outfield with Jared McGuire, Peter Frates, and Johnny Ayers not coming back?

Johhny Ayers is going to try to pursue a career punting in the NFL so he won’t be with us. In the infield, right now freshman Garret Smith  looks like he will be our SS. Either freshman Matt Hamlet or sophomore Barry Butera will be our 2B and they will probably platoon to begin the year as Matt is a RHH and Barry is a LHH. If Garret struggles, Barry will probably jump over to SS.

We’re a little less settled in the OF. We lost a little bit of everything out there with those three gone: athleticism, defense, offense, and leadership. The one guy who really rose to the top in the fall was freshman Marc Perdios so he’ll probably be in CF. The corner spots are still pretty wide open and will be filled by a group that includes Brandon Ziemann, Rob Anston, John Spatola, Mike Sudol, and either Hamlet or Butera. Our Bubble scrimmages and those non-conference games will be an extended tryout period for all of our outfielders.

3. Last year Tony Sanchez made the jump from High School directly into your lineup. Do you expect any true freshman to make a similar move?

There are certainly lots of opportunities for our freshman to make an impact. At a minimum, Garret Smith, Matt Hamlet, Marc Perdios, Mickey Wiswall, John Leonard, Pat Dean, and Kevin Moran will get significant playing time to start the season. I hope they are able to make the transition as seamlessly and successfully as Tony did.

4. Mik, after one complete season with BC, What is the biggest difference running an ACC program when compared to Columbia?

On the field, clearly it is the level of play. The ACC is a who’s who of great college baseball programs and that is a club that we intend to join. There is also the fact that we play so many more games than we could in the Ivies and certainly the travel is much more extensive.

Off the field, the pace of recruiting is so accelerated. That is probably true for every D1 but the pace of recruiting in the power conferences like the ACC is really fast. I’m still amazed by it and it seems like it keeps getting faster. I think we have done a really good job of keeping pace, but in comparison to what recruiting was like even 5 years ago, recruiting is a whole new ballgame now.

5. Do we have an update yet on the New Baseball facility? Has ground been broken yet?

Ground won’t be broken for a while. It is definitely moving forward. We’re going to have it but its a process here at BC. The University just unveiled its Master Plan for something like the next 50 years. Twenty years from now, this campus is going to be unrecognizable to our kids who graduate this year. The Plan calls for something like a billion dollars of new construction and investment in BC in the next 10 to 15 years and the exciting part is that the construction of our facility is the very first step of the entire Master Plan. The architects will be finalizing the plans in the next 6 weeks or so. After that the Board of Trustees has to approve it and then comes the part that is probably the least predictable – working through the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). That part could take up to a year or so to get permits and to work with the Brighton neighborhood. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long, but it could. We’re hoping to be in it in 2010.

I do know this, it won’t be the biggest facility in terms of seating in the ACC or in the country, but it will stand on its own against any facility in the country with regard to how great it will be for our players and fans. We’ll have everything in there from a huge locker room to a beautiful players’ lounge to coaches’ offices, indoor batting cages, a recruiting lounge, a conference room, state-of-the-art video room, training room, the whole deal. It will be the perfect fit for BC and it will be first class all the way. Everyone from Father Leahy to Gene DeFilippo to the Board of Trustees to me know that we have one chance to get this facility right and that is what is going to happen!

6. What is your biggest challenge on and off the field in dealing with young men from 18-23?

At BC, we get great kids and they come from great families so my off-field problems are probably a lot less than at some other places, but the biggest challenges here are making sure that our kids are making good decisions socially and that they are maintaining that balance between academics and baseball. Our kids are driven to do well in both arenas but every now and then they might lose sight of the importance of school and they need a little kick to make sure that they are staying on track there.

The CBB would like to thank Mik for taking some time to answer some of the questions we presented him with. We will be providing extensive coverage of the BC program as we attend about 15 games. If any other schools would like to do an interview feel free to email us.