Western Nevada coach likes what he sees in Alaska pitchers

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Oct 18, 2014

D.J. Whittemore isn’t involved with the oil business, but the Western Nevada College baseball coach has tapped into the Alaska pipeline to strike it rich.

First it was Juneau’s Dylan Baker, who has graduated to pro ball in 2012.

Then it was Anchorage’s Max Karnos, who anchored the pitching staff last season as a freshman.

Now newcomer Johny Meszaros of Anchorage has joined the team.

Karnos, of South High fame, is a valuable and versatile piece of the puzzle that developed into the team’s workhorse. He led Western Nevada with 75.1 innings pitched and three complete games to go along with a 5-2 record and 3.58 ERA.

“Max came to us a confident and polished pitcher that experienced a great deal of success at all levels of youth baseball,” Whittemore told me. “He was a strike thrower when he arrived on campus and we set off to work to improve the quality of his stuff. He worked hard and improved his velocity 3 to 5 mph, and also developed a breaking ball that was college average from almost non-existent at the start of the year.”

Karnos started 12 of his first 13 games before he was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs. When Western Nevada beat Salt Lake 5-0 to reach the Scenic West Athletic Conference finals, it was Karnos that closed it out with two shutout innings.

“Max is capable of pitching in any role – as is almost every pitcher,” Whittemore said. “Throwing quality pitches is the art of starting or relieving. The role of 'closer' doesn’t really exist in our program. We have relievers that generally pitch when the game is the most tense and at the most crucial moments.”

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander has a strong sinking fastball that helped him average nearly seven strikeouts per game.

“The chief difference between a starter versus a reliever is the ability of a reliever to erase inherited runners via the strikeout,” Whittemore said. “Starters need to be strike throwers that can keep their pitch count down and get outs without velocity.”

Meszaros, 19, did not play college baseball in 2014, although it was only a year ago that he was picked in the 39th round of the MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder righty is ripe with potential.

“Johny is a hard worker that has a clear goal in mind. He is educated in the art of pitching and has confidence as well,” Whittmore said. “His maturity as a student, person, and pitcher is growing each day and it will be fun to continue to watch his development.”

Meszaros, of Service High fame, has been limited since his arrival to Western Nevada because of some inflammation in his elbow.

“He needs to throw strikes to be successful. His fastball is good to great and comes out of his hand very easily and with some life. The key for him to be successful is command of the baseball,” Whittmore said. “He certainly has the breaking ball and the body of a professional pitcher.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.