Julio Acosta is an anchor in the lineup for the Primal 9 Kings. He’s third in hits and second in runs, walks, and average. In addition to a strong bat, Acosta is a leader defensively for Primal 9. Acosta is primarily a catcher, but is also developing into a center fielder.
His versatility is something he is working on and knows will bring value back to Keystone College for his senior campaign. Winning is Acosta’s top priority, and his experience of doing so has helped a young Kings team.
Dominic Stearn caught up with Acosta to learn more about the versatile catcher.
Q: How has your first month and a half here in the CLPB been?
A: The CLPB is cool. I played in New Jersey for a couple of weeks and it was a little different. This one’s a little more competitive, so I like that aspect of it. People take it a little more seriously. We’ve got some good dudes out here.
Q: How do you feel like you’ve fared because you were named to the all star team and you’re one of the leading hitters on the Kings?
A: I’ve been doing decent. I know I could have produced more and my first couple games. I got off to a slow start, but started to pick it up. It could be better, could be worse. I’m not completely satisfied with my play, but it’s a work in progress.
Q: What do you feel you need to do over the last week or so to be satisfied with your performance?
A: I’m here because I want the team to win. If the team’s winning, it doesn’t really matter too much about my performance. We still can get into that last playoff spot. We have a shot to run the table.
Q: How much fun have you had with your teammates on the Kings because most you guys just met this summer?
A: It’s been a blast. It’s a group of young guys, so they still have a little learning to do, but I’m glad to be able to share my knowledge and watch them grow because there’s definitely been growth throughout the summer. I’m happy to see that for them. They’re a bunch of funny guys who work hard.
Q: What’s it like for you being an older player on the team, being more experienced in terms of college baseball?
A: At times, it can be a little frustrating. I just got to remember that I was there at one point too, being a freshman or sophomore in college. I hope I have been a good role model to these kids. I may not see them again because I’m graduating after this, so I hope I had some kind of impact on their life.
Q: Do you have a favorite teaching moment with one of your teammates?
A: I’ve given a couple pointers here and there to those who ask about hitting and defense. Gregory Garcia asks me all the time about my hands and how I’m doing things. I give him my little feedback here and there.
Q: As a catcher, how much pride do you take in your work defensively behind the plate?
A: Defense is my number one thing. I’d rather play better defense than hit well. That’s what honestly carried me through those first couple of weeks here in Florida. I wasn’t really hitting, but I was playing really good defense. I always take pride in that. Defense is the priority. The bat is a plus.
Q: What would you say is your strength defensively as a catcher?
A: I like to think it’s all of my game. I think all aspects play hand in hand. If I could get that pitch stolen on the outer black, that’s a good feeling for the pitcher. I try to give them that confidence that he can throw it in the dirt. I like to think of them all equally.
Q: Not only do you catch, but you also play outfield. You’re a versatile player. Is that something that you have always been, or have you mostly been a catcher and you’re just kind of learning to play the outfield out here?
A: I just started playing outfield last season with my college team at Keystone. We had our main left fielder go down, and I guess that was the next best option. They stuck me out there and it’s been working. Here they got me playing center and I feel myself kind of getting better and more comfortable every day.
Q: What was that process like learning how to play the outfield?
A: It all started at Keystone with infinite reps of just trying to get the basics down and learning what I needed to do and where I needed to be with the ball. I learned all the basic stuff at school, but here it’s just like the reps that are keeping me comfortable and helping me there on a daily basis.
Q: Was it kind of weird for you to start in the outfield in the All Star game?
A: It was funny to me because all of my accolades lately have been coming from the outfield. I just thought that was funny, but it wasn’t weird because I’ve been practicing it. It’s kind of a second nature. It was fun.
Q: Is being versatile something you feel like you’ve added to your game, or do you still feel like the same guy?
A: I definitely think that puts me at a little more advantage to be on the field every day. Catching is a lot on the body. I can take it, but one day catching and one day in the outfield makes it a lot easier than just catching throughout the whole entire week.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish in your final year in college ball?
A: I want to bring a championship home. I just love to win. Last year, we got to the regional championship and lost. I’m hoping we make it past the regional championships. We want to make a super and we make it to the World Series and try to make some noise over there down in Cedar Rapids.