His name might sway you to believe otherwise, but there is not a bit of fear inside Joe Panik when he strides into the batter's box. Allowing the bat to slice through the air at precisely the angle he desires, the San Francisco Giants have found themselves a second baseman for years to come-a former St. John's product to boot.
While playing on a team with the nickname of "Flying Squirrels" (the San Francisco Giants' Double-A affiliate is phenomenally named the Richmond Flying Squirrels) must have been a thrill, Panik was the same kid who earned All-America honors while playing for the Red Storm; he was not looking to toil in the minor leagues very long.
After tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A to begin 2014 (Panik would bat .321 in 74 games), he received the call up to the big leagues on the opposite side of the country that he had grown up.
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Born the day before Halloween 1990 in Yonkers, Panik would not stray all that far from home. He would play at John Jay HS in Hopewell Junction, and then matriculate at St. John's.
There was never any question about Panik's ability to hit. He tore through the Big East Conference his junior season, batting nearly .400 and finishing with an on-base percentage north of .500. It took him until his age 23 season to put it all together on the professional level, but now up with the San Francisco Giants, it seems Panik is here to stay.
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At the start of 2014, there was nowhere for Panik to play up with the Giants. Shortstop Brandon Crawford has proven himself to be one of the steadiest defenders at any position in the game, with a good enough bat to play. Over at second base was veteran Marco Scutaro, who was a catalyst on the 2012 World Series winning Giants club.
But, injuries are part of the game.
On May 22, 2014, Joe Panik debuted, as the Giants were in the midst of a six game losing streak and considering what trades they could make to improve their team.
Nearly 300 plate appearances later, the Giants are in the second round of the MLB postseason, while Joe Panik has garnered whispers about Rookie of the Year, hit .305 while playing a rock solid second base, has batted second in the order consistently, and has all but announced that second base is his for the keeping for the foreseeable future.
The long-running joke heading into the Postseason has been about how the Giants have a thing for even-numbered years. Having raised the trophy in both 2010 and 2012, it would seem the time is now for the Giants, who won the Wild Card Game on the road in Pittsburgh just to reach the divisional round. Due to their record, they drew the National League's most complete club and highest seed, the Washington Nationals.
For a young kid that began the season in Triple-A Fresno, to be playing (and batting second) in the MLB Postseason must be an eye-popping experience. But so far to Joe Panik, there is no hesitation, it is see ball, rip ball.