Many young baseball players often talk about a particular major league player they idolized growing up – the player around whom they try to pattern their game.
For Bowling Green Hot Rods first baseman Cameron Seitzer, his major league idol is part of his family.
The son of former major leaguer and current Kansas City Royal hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, Cameron has his sights set on following in the footsteps of his father while making a name for himself.
“I always loved going to the ball park and watching,” Cameron Seitzer said. “He retired when I was seven years old, so I didn’t get to see all that much. The times I do remember, going out to the yard, I loved it and wanted it to be the job for me in the future.”
Kevin Seitzer spent 12 seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s and Cleveland Indians. An 11th-round pick out of Eastern Illinois by Kansas City, Kevin made his major league debut with the Royals in 1986 and finished runner-up in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1987 to Mark McGwire.
He began his career as a first baseman before swapping positions with KC great George Brett, moving to third base. Kevin was a two-time All-Star and a career .295 hitter.
Cameron was also drafted in the 11th round in last June’s draft by the Tampa Bay Rays after three seasons at the University of Oklahoma, where he hit .327 with 166 hits – 24 homers – and 115 RBIs. Cameron was also teammates with Garrett Buechele, the son of former major league third baseman Steve Buechele.
“OU was great for me developmental wise,” Seitzer said. “I came into college 6-3, 180 pounds. I was a little guy, but they put some weight on me. Having Garrett there too was great. We always talked to each other, bounced ideas off each other.”
Cameron has drawn comparisons to his father for his patience at the plate and ability to hit the ball to all fields. And being the son of a former major leaguer has given him an inside track on what it takes to be a successful baseball player, rather than added pressure of high expectations.
“Honestly it wasn’t bad,” Cameron said. “He was my coach for a long time through high school. I felt like I had the upper hand because he knew so much and he could teach me so much.
“I’m a patient guy at the dish, but I’m 6-5. He’s 5-10,” Cameron said. “He talks about the approach, staying to the middle, and that’s what I live by – hitting the ball to the other side.”
Kevin Seitzer said his son’s development is more advanced than he was as this point in his career.
“I learned a lot at the college level and in pro ball,” Kevin Seitzer. “I feel like he’s been having that type of education since he was 8 years old and then he got to apply it. He got to go through trials and tribulations, ups and downs you have as a college player and it was all preparation for pro ball. We have similarities but I feel like he is a much better hitter, much more prepared, much more knowledgeable about the game where he is at in his career than where a I was.”
Having a major leaguer in the house helped. When Kevin retired, he coached Kevin and stepson Nick Graffeo, a relief pitcher in the Kansas City system with the Kane County Cougars in the Midwest League. Kevin also opened a baseball and softball facility with former teammate Mike McFarlane in the Kansas City area. The facility is the home to 29 travel teams and has worked with players including 2011 first-round pick Bubba Starling and Miami Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison.
“It’s a great place because we’re in Kansas and it’s cold there,” Cameron said. “We have to have an indoor facility to work out in. Every person there, not just dad and Mac, every instructor there knows so much about the game. I can go to each one of them and hit with them or have them throw to me.”
And Kevin is still Cameron’s hitting coach.
“I call him every day or every other day, telling him how I’m feeling and what I did with each AB,” Cameron said. “I tell him what pitches were thrown in certain counts. He knows my swing inside out because he’s been working with me for so long. It’s nice to call my dad and talk baseball, but it’s nice to have (hitting coach Manny Castillo) here too.”
Kevin doesn’t get to see Cameron play but the regular conversations help.
“He can tell me what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling, what’s happening and then I can tell him what adjustments to make,” Kevin Seitzer said. “I get a picture in my head of what his swing looks like and what’s happening.”
After hitting .285 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs in 64 games for Princeton in rookie ball last season, Cameron is hitting .317 with 11 RBIs and a .407 on-base percentage for the Hot Rods.
Bowling Green manager Brady Williams, the son of former major league manager Jimmy Williams, said Seitzer’s knowledge can only come from having the game around you for your entire life.
“There’s things you can teach and things you have to watch with your own eyes,” BG manager Brady Williams said. “Being around the game as long as he has, he’s seen a lot of things growing up. For him to grow up in that atmosphere, you get to see how players are, how the game is at that level and how to handle yourself.”
So far, Cameron’s having fun with the Hot Rods.
“We just go out there and play hard and see what happens,” he said. “I just want to have quality at-bats, hit the ball hard and play good defense. Whatever happens throughout the year happens. … It’s a long haul. We have to pace ourselves.”
That patient approach will be key for Cameron to get to the major leagues, Kevin Seitzer said.
“He’s going to have to ground out 140-game season right now,” Kevin Seitzer said. “He’s always worked hard. He’s always been a great teammate and had a great attitude. He needs to keep working the way he has and let this process unfold.
“It’s a tough place to get to and it’s even tougher to stay when you do.”
Timber Rattlers 5, Hot Rods 2
The Hot Rods (14-10) led late against the Timber Rattlers, but Wisconsin stormed back for a 5-2 win Sunday in Appleton. Former Hilltopper Matt Rice had two hits and an RBI, but the Timber Rattlers scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie.
The Timber Rattlers scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. Rice answered for the Hot Rods in the next inning. Taylor Motter singled with one out and stole second and third base. Rice, with two outs, lined a grounder off the glove of Wisconsin starter David Goforth, allowing Motter to score.
The Hot Rods took their first lead of the game in the top of the sixth inning. With Ryan Brett at third base, Todd Glaesmann grounded to third. On the play at the plate, the ball was dislodged from catcher Rafael Neda’s mitt to make the score 2-1.
The Timber Rattlers went on to score the game’s final four runs. Chadwin Stang hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Wisconsin scored three more times in the bottom of the eighth to win and even the series at one game apiece.
The Hot Rods and Timber Rattlers were scheduled to meet in the series finale at 12:05 p.m. CDT today. The Hot Rods planned to send RHP Roberto Gomez (1-0, 4.95) to the mound against Wisconsin’s RHP Andy Moye (1-0, 2.35).