Turks Keep Peep Busy As Leadoff Man

7/17/2007 – Daily News Record

And Arizona Junior Rediscovers His confidence Written By Marcus Helton Daily News Record HARRISONBURG — Every summer, the Valley Baseball League attracts college players from across the nation who hope to impress scouts and hone their skills. Travis Peep came here to prove something to himself. After an injury-marred freshman season at the University of Arizona in 2006, Peep took a summer off from the game, but a disappointing sophomore campaign left him in search of his baseball confidence. "This year, I really felt like I had to play, because I hadn’t played that much the last two years," Peep, a Harrisonburg Turk, said Monday. "It was kind of a way to prove – not just to my coaches, but to myself – that I could play still. I wasn’t even sure." Peep’s performance this summer should ease any lingering doubts. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder is hitting .285 with a team-high 34 hits in a leadoff role. Peep also has been effective defensively at second base, committing only two errors in 79 attempts for a .983 fielding percentage. "He’ll be there the rest of the season," Turks manager Bob Wease said of Peep’s hold on the leadoff spot. "He’s a leadoff guy, and he can put the ball in play and he runs a little bit. I knew just what kind of player he was coming in, and he’s done a good job for us." For most of his playing career, all the 20-year-old Peep has known is success. At Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., Peep’s teams won back-to-back Arizona 5A state titles his sophomore and junior years and finished second his senior season. During the fall of his first year at Arizona, though, Peep tore cartilage in his right wrist, an injury that forced him to miss the first two months of the season. "I’m not really sure how it happened," Peep said, "but one day I just went to swing and I couldn’t – like my mind wouldn’t let me swing. So I went and got an MRI and I tore some cartilage in the joint where your hand actually comes out of the socket." Despite the time he missed, Peep made a late-season impact. In 18 games, he hit .432 with two doubles, six RBIs and 10 runs scored. Peep’s play was impressive enough for Arizona assistant coach Mark Wasikowski to recommend him to Wease, who signed Peep after that season. Wasikowski played for the Turks in the early 1990s and has helped steer several Arizona players to Harrisonburg in recent years. As a sophomore, though, Peep didn’t come close to showing the ability he did as a freshman. He played in just 13 games – five of them starts – and hit .261 with two doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored. "All my games that I played in were at the beginning of the year," he said. "I thought I was going to get a lot of time, and then it ended up that I didn’t." Wasikowski said Peep’s lack of playing time stemmed from some early-season struggles. "He got a bunch of opportunities," he said, "and the first opportunity he had, he came up huge, and then after that it was kind of empty. Then for a while he had lost his confidence in his swing a little bit, I think. … Towards the end of the year, he started swinging the bat better again, and it worked out well, because he kind of took that right into Harrisonburg." A Washington state native, Peep moved to Arizona when he was 10 and had never traveled farther east than Oklahoma before coming to Virginia. "Coming this far wasn’t that big of a deal to me," Peep, who has seven RBIs and 18 runs, said. "I consider myself – if I have to be – an independent person. That didn’t really bug me, and playing baseball, that’s just getting used to playing again. I’m seeing a lot of live pitching, and I haven’t seen live pitching in a while, so it was just good in that aspect." Peep has taken a liking to his summer-league teammates as well. Asked if it was hard to build team camaraderie among a group of players from across the country, Peep said things actually came together rather quickly. The Turks head into today’s 7:30 p.m. home game against Woodstock with a 22-10 record, two games behind first-place Waynesboro. "For the most part, baseball players in general are the same type of dudes," he said. "Like, they always have a certain kind of arrogance to them, and it’s importance to have that to be able to be successful. I think it matters a lot, with just everyone having a little bit, but not too much." In fact, Peep said, the only difficulty he’s encountered during his stay in the Shenandoah Valley has been weather-related. "Really, the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with here is the humidity," he said. "That was my biggest thing when I came here. I never sweat at home, and it never affects catching my breath or anything. Here, I can’t breathe and I’m sweating all the time. It’s crazy." Posted 2007-07-17 By Marcus Helton HARRISONBURG — Every summer, the Valley Baseball League attracts college players from across the nation who hope to impress scouts and hone their skills. Travis Peep came here to prove something to himself. After an injury-marred freshman season at the University of Arizona in 2006, Peep took a summer off from the game, but a disappointing sophomore campaign left him in search of his baseball confidence. "This year, I really felt like I had to play, because I hadn’t played that much the last two years," Peep, a Harrisonburg Turk, said Monday. "It was kind of a way to prove – not just to my coaches, but to myself – that I could play still. I wasn’t even sure." Peep’s performance this summer should ease any lingering doubts. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder is hitting .285 with a team-high 34 hits in a leadoff role. Peep also has been effective defensively at second base, committing only two errors in 79 attempts for a .983 fielding percentage. "He’ll be there the rest of the season," Turks manager Bob Wease said of Peep’s hold on the leadoff spot. "He’s a leadoff guy, and he can put the ball in play and he runs a little bit. I knew just what kind of player he was coming in, and he’s done a good job for us." For most of his playing career, all the 20-year-old Peep has known is success. At Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., Peep’s teams won back-to-back Arizona 5A state titles his sophomore and junior years and finished second his senior season. During the fall of his first year at Arizona, though, Peep tore cartilage in his right wrist, an injury that forced him to miss the first two months of the season. "I’m not really sure how it happened," Peep said, "but one day I just went to swing and I couldn’t – like my mind wouldn’t let me swing. So I went and got an MRI and I tore some cartilage in the joint where your hand actually comes out of the socket." Despite the time he missed, Peep made a late-season impact. In 18 games, he hit .432 with two doubles, six RBIs and 10 runs scored. Peep’s play was impressive enough for Arizona assistant coach Mark Wasikowski to recommend him to Wease, who signed Peep after that season. Wasikowski played for the Turks in the early 1990s and has helped steer several Arizona players to Harrisonburg in recent years. As a sophomore, though, Peep didn’t come close to showing the ability he did as a freshman. He played in just 13 games – five of them starts – and hit .261 with two doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored. "All my games that I played in were at the beginning of the year," he said. "I thought I was going to get a lot of time, and then it ended up that I didn’t." Wasikowski said Peep’s lack of playing time stemmed from some early-season struggles. "He got a bunch of opportunities," he said, "and the first opportunity he had, he came up huge, and then after that it was kind of empty. Then for a while he had lost his confidence in his swing a little bit, I think. … Towards the end of the year, he started swinging the bat better again, and it worked out well, because he kind of took that right into Harrisonburg." A Washington state native, Peep moved to Arizona when he was 10 and had never traveled farther east than Oklahoma before coming to Virginia. "Coming this far wasn’t that big of a deal to me," Peep, who has seven RBIs and 18 runs, said. "I consider myself – if I have to be – an independent person. That didn’t really bug me, and playing baseball, that’s just getting used to playing again. I’m seeing a lot of live pitching, and I haven’t seen live pitching in a while, so it was just good in that aspect." Peep has taken a liking to his summer-league teammates as well. Asked if it was hard to build team camaraderie among a group of players from across the country, Peep said things actually came together rather quickly. The Turks head into today’s 7:30 p.m. home game against Woodstock with a 22-10 record, two games behind first-place Waynesboro. "For the most part, baseball players in general are the same type of dudes," he said. "Like, they always have a certain kind of arrogance to them, and it’s importance to have that to be able to be successful. I think it matters a lot, with just everyone having a little bit, but not too much." In fact, Peep said, the only difficulty he’s encountered during his stay in the Shenandoah Valley has been weather-related. "Really, the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with here is the humidity," he said. "That was my biggest thing when I came here. I never sweat at home, and it never affects catching my breath or anything. Here, I can’t breathe and I’m sweating all the time. It’s crazy."


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