One of the fun things about following the Valley League is that it’s really, really hard to predict what a certain season might entail. As the summer unfolds, the story lines do, too, and then we can see what we might remember about this season ten years from now. In 2017, for example, it was a lithe Division-III shortstop who came to Charlottesville and hit a combined .428- the best in the last 14 years at least. So 2017 shall be evermore dubbed the “Michael Wielansky Year.”
Well, if he continues hitting home runs at the pace he’s set so far, this year just may be remembered as the “J.D. Mundy Season.”
Through July 12th, Covington’s Mundy has hit 359/485/757, with 28 runs, 37 RBIs, 5 doubles, and 12 home runs, with a 22/26 BB/K ratio to boot. He was the South All-Star MVP as well after going 2-5 with a double and triple. If the season ended right this second, his slugging percentage would be the highest the league has seen since 2004, and his home run total would be tied for 11th in the span of 2004-2018.
JD hit 232/378/442 as a freshman at Virginia Tech, and followed it up with a 257/376/456 sophomore season in 136 at-bats. He also hit 281/350/481 in the Northwoods League in the summer of 2017.
JD took some time during the All-Star festivities to answer a few questions:
ATVL: You have 12 home runs so far this year. It’s the most I’ve seen at this point of the year. Tell us what’s going on.
JD Mundy: Right now I’m just seeing the ball well. I’m not trying to hit home runs, just sticking with an approach, just trying to square up the fastball, and good things are happening right now.
ATVL: Have you ever been on a tear like this before?
JD: Not with the home runs like this, no. But just with the hitting, the power is just coming as I get older, instead of hitting a long fly, the ball is carrying out.
ATVL: What’s your approach at the plate?
JD: Well, anything straight early, I’m definitely sitting on that. With a lefthanded pitcher I’m mostly trying to go to left field. Just, early in the count trying to get a good pitch to hit, and hit it hard somewhere.
ATVL: You’re from Roanoke, so you’re kind of a Valley guy. How did you get connected with the league?
JD: I was supposed to go to Vermont to play, but because I’m transferring I wanted to stay close to home. [Coach] Alex [Kotheimer] got me on the team. My uncle knew a guy from the team, and that’s how I ended up there.
ATVL: Is this your uncle Kelly? [Who played pro ball- was drafted in 1997]
ATVL: So you’re transferring to Radford. Tell us your reasoning.
JD: Well, he actually went to Radford, too, and played middle infield with the head coach there when he used to play, so I went up there the next few days after it was put out that I was transferring, and I loved it up there. So I’m proud to go up and play for Radford now.
ATVL: So what are you hoping to get at Radford?
JD: I would say more opportunity to play the field. I played the field some [at VT], but I wanted to play third some at Radford. That’s it. Opportunity to play the field.
ATVL: I had heard that from a Covington person. DH eliminates you from half the major league clubs, so I get that. So you played for the Battle Creek Bombers in 2017. We need a comparison between the Northwoods and the Valley League.
JD: Oh man. Northwoods is a grind, man. That’s 70-some games in a row. It was a great experience; I still talk to the guys. We had a really good team. Me and my buddy from Tech went up there; we went to the championship game and lost, but that was a great experience, being a part of the Northwoods League.
ATVL: So what does the Valley do that the Northwoods does not?
JD: Not play 70 games! We’ve got off days here.
ATVL: So you found the grind to be somewhat difficult?
JD: Well, I wouldn’t say difficult, it’s just when you’re going a little cold hitting the ball, it’s good to have an off day to regroup and come back out the next day.
ATVL: The crowds are bigger out there, right?
JD: Well, yeah, but the team I played for didn’t really have big crowds. The [Madison] Mallards had big crowds; they had a nice stadium. A couple other teams too. It was about the same as now.
ATVL: How about the travel? Was it similar?
JD: No, I was playing in Battle Creek, Michigan, which was about 6-7 hours away from everyone else. So when you go away, you play a three-game series and stay in a hotel. I think it’s good to go two hours and then come back, sleep in your own bed.
ATVL: A broad question- what makes you you? If you were to describe yourself to someone?
JD: I wouldn’t say I have just one thing. I’m just really passionate about the game. I really love coming out to play, work really hard on hitting and fielding. The love for the game really keeps me going. I just love to play the game.
Thanks for your time, JD, and good luck chasing the home run record!