03/09/2015 9:44 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – March 9, 2015 – Coming from a small, private high school made it challenging for Josh Van Beek to receive attention from Division-I colleges.
The Illiana Christian High School graduate instead elected to go the junior college route, starting his collegiate days at Wabash Valley College. One season later, he has not only earned D-I attention, but will play at IPFW next year.
A summer with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen will serve as the bridge between the end of his two-year stint at Wabash Valley and the start of his D-I career in Fort Wayne.
“I had a couple Division-I schools talking to me this fall,” Van Beek said. “It really came down to where I felt most at home and what I felt most comfortable with. IPFW laid out a plan for me and our goals meshed really well.”
Van Beek’s immediate plan includes adding to his repertoire on the mound. He mainly utilizes a fastball, curveball and changeup, but wants to begin locating those pitches better and adding other pitches that he can throw for strikes at a high percentage.
He describes his current pitching style as more powerful than in years past.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a contact pitcher; I like to strike people out,” he said. “I have a good curveball, so when I get ahead of hitters, I like to punch them out.”
Van Beek joins Wabash Valley teammate Tyler Sroczynski on this year’s Oilmen roster. The two played high school baseball together at Illiana Christian, also the alma mater of former Oilman Chris Rudenga.
“This summer is going to be crucial in my development going from JUCO to the four-year,” Van Beek said. “All I’ve really known is JUCO, but this summer, I’m going to get a chance to play with a bunch of other four-year players. Maybe I can learn from them by being around them.”
Wabash Valley coach Rob Fournier called Van Beek his team’s most improved pitcher from last year to this year.
“I love the direction he’s heading,” Fournier said. “He’s a very coachable, accountable kid. He’s got a swing-and-miss breaking ball, but he’s got to be more consistent with locating his fastball in and out. His changeup is a work in progress, but it’s getting better. He loves to work and loves to learn, so it’s just a matter of time before he puts it all together.”
Van Beek expects to be used mostly out of the bullpen as a middle reliever for the Warriors this season.
“This is a big year for him,” Fournier said. “To take it to the next level, the things that I talked about earlier have to come. He’s got great size and his arm works beautifully. This is a big year, but we’re really confident in him. His confidence has gone up so much.”