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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

6/10/24 : Spotlight - Infielder Otto Kemp

Otto Kemp is a 24 year old infielder who has been playing for the Jersey Shore BlueClaws.  On Tuesday he will suit up for the Reading Fightins as he’s earned a promotion to the AA level.  He was signed as an un-drafted free agent on 8/1/22 from Point Loma Nazarene College in Point Loma Nazarene, CA (San Diego).  Otto was named as the Phillies minor league hitter of the month for May posting a .337/.453/.581 slash line in 106 PA’s - 1.034 OPS with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs and 13 RBIs.  He walked 15 times and scored 19 runs.

Since joining the Phillies organization he’s been an on-base machine with a .389 OBP in 722 plate appearances. Last season Otto began the year with the Clearwater Threshers where he played in 78 games and was a key part of the club’s first half championship run, he was promoted to Jersey Shore on 8/2/23 and finished the season as a BlueClaw appearing in 31 games playing stellar defense at third base. During the BlueClaws playoff run he made multiple “gold glove” like plays at the hot corner.  He had a strong post season run batting .333 in three games with a .455 OBP.

This season began with a slight injury setback (oblique) and Otto spent the initial part of the year in extended spring camp working with the rehab team at the complex in Clearwater.  He was sent to the Threshers (rehab assignment) on 4/7/24 and played five games with Clearwater going 7 for 14 with four extra base hits before re-joining Jersey Shore on April 16th.

Otto leaves Jersey Shore as a South Atlantic League league leader in multiple categories - 1st in batting average (.333) and OBP (.440), 2nd in triples (5), 6th in slugging (.533), 6th in runs (35) and 3rd in OPS (.973).

He’s also played some new defensive positions this year with the BlueClaws seeing time at both first base and right field adding those to second and third base which he’s also played this season as he has done previously in his pro career.

I recently asked Otto a few questions - here’s our Q & A.

You’ve been part of a winning culture in your baseball career dating back to a national championship in college and continuing with the Threshers and BlueClaws - obviously it feels better to win than lose games - how has team success influenced your personal experiences?

Team success has had a big impact on my baseball experience from college to here. It’s taught me a lot both as a player and a teammate and influences me every day. It’s also changed my perspective on how to go about business every day and take things one day at a time.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the baseball field at Point Loma. It has been recognized as “America’s most scenic ballpark” as it “provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.”  The entire campus at the college is picturesque.  What was it like to play there? I read that the on-shore breezes blow in and makes the park play bigger - how many home runs did that cost ya 🤓?

Point Loma is the best college field in the country no doubt about it. It’s a fantastic playing surface and it has the big blue Pacific Ocean right behind the whole outfield fence. It was a pleasure to be able to play there every day. I get “wowed” every time I go back to the field still. And rumor is true unfortunately. Afternoon games are rough sometimes. I’m guessing it cost me 3 or 4 throughout the years, I’ve definitely seen balls go over the fence and come back.”

You’ve posted great OBP numbers in your pro career to date - what is your approach each plate appearance, are you locking into a particular zone?  How has this year compared to your previous seasons in regard to how pitchers approach you?

At the plate I’m just trying to do damage. My approach changes from at bat to at bat depending on lots of different factors, but the intent never changes. This year hasn’t been a ton different in terms of how I’ve been pitched for the most part.

Pro baseball is a year round process but a labor of love for most who are fortunate to be part of it - how do you balance the commitment and time it takes to be successful - do you decompress a bit during the off-season?

Last year I did take a couple weeks to allow my body and mind to recover. It’s nice to get out of the routine for a little bit and catch up with the people you weren’t able to see throughout the season.”

Lastly, we’ve you make spectacular plays at third base - it’s obvious you take great pride in your defense.  Is that your preferred position?  Which brings the bigger thrill - a game winning home run or a game winning defensive stop?

I don’t really have a preferred position honestly. I just enjoy being on the dirt. I would have to say a game winning home run is a bigger thrill for me. Both great feelings, but I think that one wins for me.”

Our thanks to Otto for taking the time to answer our questions and also on his promotion - very deserving - we wish him continued success and hope that the wind is never again strong enough to blow home runs back into play! 🤓

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

Written by The Joke 🥸

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