Jonny Homza retires, ending short but notable career

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Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 7, 2023

One of the greatest baseball players in Alaska history is hanging up his cleats as Jonny Homza has retired at age 23, ending a short but notable career that saw him go from Cook Inlet Conference MVP to the second highest MLB draft pick from the 907 state.

Homza played five seasons of pro ball in the San Diego Padres farm system, advancing from Rookie League to Class Low-A to High-A all while making the transition from infielder to catcher.

His 243 career MLB-affiliated minor leagues games rank fifth all-time among Alaskans and his best season came with the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the High-A Central in 2021, when he posted career highs in home runs (6), doubles (17) and RBIs (43) in 85 games.

The former South star looked destined for Double-A before disaster struck in October 2021, when he broke his neck in a mountain biking accident after he flipped over the handlebars of his bike and landed on his head. Homza required surgery and underwent an extensive rehab process but was back on the diamond a few months later in preparation for the 2022 season.

He played in only nine games in 2022. A year later, he’s out of the game altogether. This was Homza’s decision to walk away, unlike most players who must be asked to go.

Homza will leave behind a legacy in Alaska that includes being part of the CIC’s greatest brother tandem as he and big bro Willy were both conference MVPs and state champions.

His youth career was full of awards and awesome accomplishments.

As a freshman in 2014, he was the starting shortstop on the South Post 4 team that won the American Legion state championship.

As a junior in 2016, Homza hit .517 in CIC league games and pitched the ninth no-hitter in league history; later that year in the ASAA state title game he threw a complete game and hit a go-ahead home run as South beat Chugiak 3-1.

As a senior in 2017, he batted .549 with 31 runs and 19 RBIs in 17 games, won his second straight Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year honor and got drafted on his 18th birthday by the Padres.

Homza was picked No. 138th overall in the fifth round – the second highest among the 39 players from Alaska taken in the MLB Draft and the highest for a position player, beating by 12 spots the previous record set in 1994 by Anchorage third baseman Trajan Langdon, who was selected No. 150 by the Padres.

Homza was a line-drive hitter with a rocket right arm. A marvelous middle infielder, he was a graceful defensive player with elite hands and quick feet. He had the arm strength to play shortstop and the range to play second base. He could also man the hot corner at third base.

But the Padres converted the Alaskan to catcher and used him behind the plate for most of his career; he earned 109 starts at catcher compared to 64 at third base and seven combined at the middle infield positions.

Homza held his own at catcher, throwing out 57 of 151 baserunners for a career .377% hose rate. In 2019, he gunned down 18-of-30 with the Tri-City Dust Devils and caught a combined no-hitter, the first no-no for the Northwest League in four years.

"Jonny had a big part in this game," Tri-City pitching coach Leo Rosales said. "I'm very proud of him. He's come a long way."

Homza also shined for the Dust Devils in the Northwest League playoffs, hitting a grand slam for his first postseason hit.

In 2020, Homza hit two home runs in the same game for the first time in his career with Auckland of the Australian Baseball League. Then he did it again in 2021 with the Fort Wayne TinCaps at High-A.

His 243 MLB-affiliated minor league games rank fifth all-time among Alaskans.

635 – Cliff Anderson (Kodiak) 1992-98
558 – Jamar Hill (Anchorage) 2002-08
303 – Tom Allison (Susitna Valley) 1990-94
250 – Levi Robinson (Anchorage) 2002-04
243 – Jonny Homza (Anchorage) 2017-22

Homza collected 14 home runs, 122 RBIs and 151 runs as a pro player, with all three ranking third in Alaska history. His was progressing nicely as his career was on the rise.

He was part of a small group of Alaskans in the minor leagues but by far the biggest name of the bunch. Between 2017 and 2022, there were five Alaskans playing pro baseball – Homza and fellow Anchorage players Chad Nading, Johnny Meszaros and Brody Jessee along with Dylan Baker of Juneau.

Now that the other four have retired, that leaves just Jessee, a 22-year-old pitcher and 10th-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds who will start the 2023 season with the Low-A Daytona Tortugas of the Florida State League.