In honor of Wooster’s opening game of the 2018 season on Sunday, let’s take a look at a conversation ATVL had with Michael Wielansky right at the end of the 2017 Valley League season- after he had been named MVP, but just before the Tom Sox won their first Valley League championship. (Michael went 2-6 with 2 runs on Sunday, by the way.)
ATVL: I’m here with Michael Wielansky of the Charlottesville Tom Sox, and newly minted MVP of the league. To start us off, how did you get connected with the Valley?
MW: Last year, I actually played with a teammate, Sean McCracken, down in St Louis. It was not really as serious a summer league or anything, but he had talked to our head guy, Jeff (Burton), and he was like, “Hey, I like Michael. I like the way he plays, if you have a spot for him, look into it.” And he called my college coaches, looked up my numbers, and liked what he saw, and then I was on the Tom Sox.
ATVL:You received serval awards at Wooster, right?
MW: Yes. I was first team All-American for the ABCA, and Rawlings Gold Glove.
ATVL: At second base?
ATVL: Is that something you’ve willingly given up to Bryce Windham?
MW: Yeah, I just want to play. I don’t really care where it is. Wherever I can help the team, that’s all that matters. Coach likes me at second base, so that’s where I took my role.
ATVL: What were your expectations coming here this summer?
MW: I just wanted to see where I stacked up. I knew a lot of the guys were from big D-I schools, and my coach, coming in, didn’t have any expectations. He was like, “Go have fun and see how you do against them and see what you have to work on for next year.”
ATVL: Did you have any idea that this kind of summer was going to happen?
MW: No. I definitely didn’t think this was going to happen. I was very surprised and happy with it.
ATVL: So why Wooster?
MW: Well, in high school I was small. Most college coaches, when they saw me, they were like, “I like his skills, but he’s not big enough.” I didn’t really mature until after my senior year of high school, or around there, so when I got big enough, it was too late for a lot of those schools. Wooster stuck with me from right when they saw me and I went up on a visit, and I love it.
ATVL: So with that in mind, you’ve made some waves; your name is out there with your awards at Wooster, and now this summer. Have you got any nibbles from bigger programs around the edges saying, “Hey, are you interested in moving?”
MW: Not that I know of. Nothing official. Some of the guys joke around saying I should come here or go there. Nothing serious. I don’t try to go out and promote myself; I like where I’m at and I’m really happy there.
ATVL: You were first in the league in almost everything. It was amazing. What stands out to me is that you were first in on-base percentage and first in slugging percentage, which doesn’t necessarily go together. So can you explain your approach at the plate a little bit? What do you look to do when you’re up there?
MW: Depending on the situation, you know, if there’s a runner on second, get him over… those type of situations. For the most part, pretty much just “see it and hit it.” Pretty simple. I just try to hit the ball hard and put it in play.
ATVL: You were 1st in batting average, 1st in OBP, 1st in slugging, 1st in OPS of course, 1st in total bases, 1st in hits, 1st in runs, 1st in doubles, 3rd in triples… this is just an incredible year. This isn’t really a question, it’s just pretty cool. So. The MVP of the League. How do you feel about that?
MW: It’s an honor, especially coming from D-III. There are so many good players in here. Anyone could have gotten it. It’s just an honor.
ATVL: Well, no, not anyone could have gotten it. Your name will now be forever connected to this year, like Cory Spangenberg is connected to 2010, from Winchester. The 2017 season is going to be yours. That’s pretty cool.
MW: It is.
ATVL: How are things with your host family this summer?
MW: Everything’s great. They’re awesome. From day one, they’ve adopted me as family. They support me, come to games, feed me, do whatever they can. I really appreciate them.
ATVL: How about your biological parents? Have they come to see you?
MW: Yeah, my dad has come to maybe two or three weekends. My mom cam up for a couple of them. They love it, and I couldn’t ask for better support from my parents.
ATVL: Did you play any other sports in high school?
MW: Yes. I played baseball, soccer and basketball. And then I stopped playing basketball after my sophomore year, but played soccer and baseball throughout. So not until college did I focus just on baseball.
ATVL: Long term goals?
MW: I mean, obviously, if I could play professionally would be goal number one. Other than that, get a good education, get a good job, stuff like that.
ATVL: Your major?
MW: Business and economics. It’s a good field with a lot of options for the future.
ATVL: Favorite baseball team?
MW: Definitely St. Louis Cardinals. Hometown team- gotta love ’em.
ATVL: Michael, thank you for your time, and I hope those long term goals happen for you!
MW: Thank you.
A special thanks for the man behind the most amazing season the Valley has seen in quite some time. Good luck in that future we talked about, Michael!