Jake Farr is the type of baseball player that Teddy Roosevelt would have appreciated. He speaks softly and carries a big stick.
It wasn’t a surprise that Farr hit over .300 this summer for the Riverhead Tomcats. That was to be expected of the good-hitting second baseman from Strawberry Plains, Tenn. What wasn’t expected, however, was the slow start Farr made to the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season.
“I didn’t get a hit like the first four or five games,” he said. “I was like 0 for 10 or something. Crazy.”
Tomcats manager Randy Caden noticed some things in Farr’s swing and worked with him for a couple of days at Caden’s Long Island Mariners Sports Facility in Bohemia. Farr said he began putting more weight on his front toe and that led to him feeling more balanced at the plate. It also helps that Farr, who throws right-handed but bats left-handed, is proficient at hitting to the opposite field.
The results speak for themselves. Farr finished the season with a .310 batting average, tying him with teammate Michael Brosseau for seventh in the league, which uses wood bats. He also drove in 18 runs, scored 25 runs, walked 21 times and stole three bases.
This was the first time Farr had played extensively with wood bats. Like many college players, he was swinging aluminum in his recent freshman season for Walters State Community College (Tenn.). Using wood to find hits is more difficult.
“The sweet spot’s a lot smaller with the wood,” Farr said. “I like it. At first I was a little bit intimidated because I didn’t know how I was going to do with it, but now, you know, it feels right. It makes you feel a lot better when you get a hit with a wood bat.”
Farr found that sweet spot often enough to help the Tomcats’ offense.
“He’s a tough out, good eye, and he’s been able to make contact with good pitchers, keep us in games,” said Caden.
Farr said hitting is his strength. In high school he was an all-state player in 2012 with an extraordinary .498 batting average. He led the state with 24 doubles.
Confidence is a big thing for a batter, and Farr should have no shortage of it after the way he performed against some tough pitchers in the HCBL.
“I’ve been really focusing on my timing a lot,” he said. “A lot of it is confidence. If you’re feeling good, you can hit them off the end and drop them in and stuff. When you’re feeling bad, man, it seems like nothing drops in.”
That confidence could come in handy for Farr, who wants to go far in baseball. He has one more year to go at Walters State. He hopes to receive an offer to play for an NCAA Division I school and be drafted by a major league club. His numbers should help draw the attention of some Division I teams.
“They always look for offense,” said Caden.
As a defensive player, Farr had to become accustomed to charging slow rollers off wood bats, something college players don’t have to worry about too often with aluminum bats.
“That’s the big adjustment for a lot of these guys,” Caden said. “I would say he’s an average second baseman. He’s not bad, but he’s average.”
Caden raved about Farr as a person.
“Great kid, a great team ballplayer,” the manager said. “I think he’s said seven words the whole year, that’s just cheering for his team. [He] works hard. A coach wants this type of kid on a team.”
Having grown up outside of Knoxville, Tenn., in a state that doesn’t have beaches, Farr took the opportunity this summer to visit Long Island beaches in his free time.
“I’ve had a great time,” he said. “Too bad we didn’t make the playoffs, though. I was hoping to stay a little bit longer.”