Anchorage’s Jonny Homza headed to big league spring training for the San Diego Padres
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage’s Jonny Homza is headed to big league spring training for the San Diego Padres for the first time in his career.
He likely won’t make the big league roster, but the catcher has a chance to leave a lasting impression on the franchise’s decision-makers.
“I treated it like a regular off-season,” Homza said. “A couple of days ago the farm director called me and asked if I would be ready to go.”
Homza was in Anchorage this winter preparing for the season but didn’t know what to expect heading into spring training because of Major League Baseball COVID-19 protocols.
After receiving the call from the Padres, he quickly boarded a flight and headed down to Peoria, Arizona where the organization’s spring training facility is.
“I’m super excited,” Homza said. “I think everybody is excited with the light at the end of the tunnel with this whole pandemic.”
Last summer, Homza was thrown a curveball when all of minor league baseball was shut down due to COVID-19. Instead of playing baseball in 2020, Homza returned to Alaska and played the waiting game.
During his time away at home, he stayed sharp with Jamar Hill, a Bartlett graduate, and former professional baseball player in the Mets organization.
“He helped me with everything from two strikes hitting to how to talk to your manager,” Homza said. “Just how to handle the whole [professional baseball] experience.”
Many expect the Padres to return to the playoffs in 2021, after a big offseason that included signing superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a long-term contract. This success at the major league level trickle-down effect on the minors according to Homza.
“The culture has changed, I would say it’s much more of a winning culture,” Homza said. “It’s inspiring for people like me as a minor leaguer to see major leaguers and see success.”
Last year during the playoffs, Homza’s former minor league teammate Ryan Weathers made his major league debut. Moments like that keep the Alaska baseball player motivated on his journey through baseball’s minor leagues.
The 21-year-old played at South Anchorage High School in Anchorage when he was taken in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Padres. He played two seasons of rookie ball in Arizona, and last played in Single-A for the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2019.
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