Danville native Jacob Bodner, who pitched for the Lexington Legends in 2016, is more than ready for baseball in 2017.
The unusually warm weather through the winter months has helped, but even more important is having a full year of experience as a professional, including his first spring training in 2016.
“Just being able to get outside and throw – that alone can give you the itch, but having the full off-season and knowing what to expect makes you want to get back out there,” said Bodner, who was a special guest at the Legends’ recent pre-season caravan stop in Danville. “Last year, I didn’t know what to expect going into spring training. I was a little more nervous, but this year I’m ready to go.”
Bodner pitched for Boyle County High School before moving on to Xavier University. He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 27th round of the June 2015 draft. In his first professional assignment, he was 2-0 with an 0.77 earned run average in 16 appearances with rookie-level Burlington of the Appalachian League in 2015.
Assigned to class A Lexington for the start of the 2016 season, Bodner recorded a save on opening night. In all, he made seven appearances with the Legends and had a 2-0 record with three saves before being promoted May 16 to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League.
He hit a rough period there, but recovered.
“There was about a three-week stretch where I was getting hit around a little bit, and control-wise, I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Bodner said. “Hitters were able to capitalize on that. In rookie ball and sometimes in A ball, I might have gotten away with a hit or two, but in high-A, I was giving up a couple of runs.”
He credits his pitching coach at Wilmington, Charlie Corbell, for helping him get back on track for a strong finish. In August, the final full month of the season, he made seven appearances and had a 1.74 ERA.
With his second spring training approaching, he’s feeling a different kind of nervous energy.
“I have those ‘pre-game jitters,’” he said. “But I’m ready to get on the mound and throw.”