As his minor league manager Pete Rose Jr. has a lot of good things to say about Trey Michalczewski, the Kannapolis Intimidators’ 19-year-old third baseman.
But Rose’s most complimentary endorsement of Michalczewski may come from his perspective as a father.
“He’s one of the guys I told my son that if you want to watch someone, watch number 27 (Michalczewski),” said Rose. “It’s funny because my son is now leg kicking from the right side (of the plate) because Trey does it. … You couldn’t pick a better kid to mock yourself after. The sky’s the limit, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Michalczewski (pronounced MEE-how-CHESS-key) is setting a good example for his teammates as well. Through 109 games, he’s batting .277 and leading Kannapolis in RBIs (69), hits (111) and doubles (25), and he is tied for the team-lead with 10 home runs.
Michalczewski’s numbers are impressive not just for a second year pro but also for someone who, like Rose says, went to his high school prom just last year.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound switch hitter hails from Jenks, Okla., a suburb of Tulsa. A dual-sport athlete whose high school football team won the state championship in his senior year, Michalczewski says he had offers to play both football and baseball in college.
He signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Oklahoma. But when the Chicago White Sox selected him in the seventh round of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Michalczewski opted to play professionally.
The White Sox immediately turned the high school middle infielder into a third baseman, a position where many infielders his size end up. Playing the summer of 2013 at short-season Bristol, Michalczewski felt comfortable with the transition.
“Going to third was a little bit different because you don’t get to pick your hop like you do at short or second,” said Michalczewski. “It’s more reaction. Our infield coordinator (Ever Magallanes) has really helped out with that, so I feel I’m getting more comfortable at third base.
“(Pro ball) was different just because I came off the high school season, and I was a little bit tired,” he continued. “I didn’t really know how pro ball was in terms of the routine and eating habits. Rest is really important. I didn’t hit all that well. I learned a lot (at Bristol). I came in this spring and tried to make the most of it.”
Rose first became acquainted with Michalczewski during the White Sox minicamp after last year’s draft. Rose got to know him better at this year’s spring training as Michalczewski was assigned to the organization’s low Class A affiliate.
Michalczewski has proven his durability. He’s played in every Intimidators game at third base, with the exception of a couple of games as a designated hitter.
This season has been full of highlights for Michalczewski.
From late May into the middle of June, he had a 17-game hitting streak. He was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Week (June 2-8) when he batted .409 with three homers and eight RBIs.
The speedy Michalczewski hit his second inside-the-park home run on June 30 in a 4-2 win over Charleston. A week later, Michalczewski belted his first career grand slam in a 12-8 victory at Greensboro.
Michalczewski is not without flaws. He admits he sometimes makes the mistakes of a young player, such as base-running errors, but Rose says they are few and far between.
Rose’s children took to Michalczewski as a big brother during the time they visited their father this summer in Kannapolis. It was not unusual to find Michalczewski kicking a soccer ball around with 7-year-old Isabella in the CMC-NorthEast Stadium outfield grass or playing video games with 9-year-old P.J. in the team’s clubhouse.
Rose is in tune with some of the parallels between himself, Michalczewski and Rose’s famous father, former big league great Pete Rose. They all played third base at some point of their baseball careers.
Michalczewski is a switch-hitter just like Rose Sr. was. And Michalczewski wears No. 27, just like Pete Rose Sr. did early in his rookie season with the Cincinnati Reds in 1963. As a manager, Rose wears no. 14, the number his father wore famously as a player and manager.
“Trey is one of P.J.’s guys,” said Rose. “ … You want your kids to look up to guys like that. He’s not the only one. There are other guys out there like that as well.”