PEORIA, Ariz. — Outfielder Eric Snyder was all smiles today at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic. And it wasn't just because he went 2-for-2 with a single and a triple.
"I'm feeling great," Snyder said. "There's great weather, a great atmosphere and great players surrounding me."
The joy of being out on the field is sincere for Snyder, who missed a good chunk of the summer showcase circuit.
"Unfortunately, I got sick and didn't play Area Codes and couldn't actually play for a month and a half," Snyder said. "I lost seven or eight pounds and I've been slowly regaining it. It was a virus in my stomach and it put me down for a month and a half. It was terrible."
When Snyder is playing, he consistently makes hard contact with a short, quick swing from the left side of the plate. He's not physically imposing at 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds, but he is one of the best pure hitters in this year's class.
"When I'm on deck, I don't take it lightly," Snyder said. "On deck, I always get my timing stuff down and see what the pitcher throws in different counts and stuff. I have an approach going up there and I just take it into my at-bat and always try to put a good swing on it, not try and get too big or anything."
Snyder, who is verbally committed to UCLA, also stands out for his hustle. He's always busting out of the box and has a killer instinct on the bases. Snyder always looks to take the extra base and has great baseball instincts.
"I'm just always trying to work hard and get better, that's my game," Snyder said. "I have a hard-working mentality and I've grown up with that. My dad and my mother have always pushed me to work hard and never take anything for granted. There's always someone better than you, so you always have to work harder than that person. That's what I live by and bring it out to the baseball field."
This showcase and next week in Jupiter, Fla. are the final big tournaments for Snyder before he gears up for his spring high school season at Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif. Snyder's team is one of the best in the nation because he is able to team up with Henry Owens, one of the class' best lefthanders, and Christian Lopes, one of the class' best infielders.
Snyder said he has faced Owens a few times in intersquad practices.
"I've got my fair share of hits, but. . . he's Henry," Snyder said. "He's pretty good."
While Snyder has been on the prospect scene for a long time, one of his younger teammates opened some eyes in today's game. Outfielder Vahn Bozoian belted a home run in his first at-bat.
"The at-bat started off with a first-pitch fastball that was a little high," Bozoian explained. "I was kind of late on it, so I choked up a little to make sure I could get the bat behind it. He ended up hanging a curveball and I got the bat head through the zone and lifted it out."
But Bozoian wasn't sure he got all of it when he first made contact.
"I had a feeling I got under it a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to travel because I was a little out front," he said. "But once I got to second, I saw it hit a motorcycle, so I started jogging. It felt good. It took a lot of stress off my shoulders. Coming in here, this is my first year on this team and I had something to prove."
Bozoian is a rising junior who attends Ayala High in Chino Hills, Calif. His arm strength is nearly as impressive as his size and powerful swing.
"All the way through Pony, I was kind of that kid would play some first base and play some outfield and then get on the mound and throw the ball as hard as I can, but never really knew where it was going to go," Bozoian said. "Finally, I got the right teaching and started playing with the San Gabriel Valley Arsenal and got the right coaching and everything just kind of fell into place. I started varsity as a freshman in right field and everything seems to be going really good from there."
Despite his strong, 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame, Bozoian said he doesn't lift weights. But he did play varsity water polo as a freshman, which is an entire-body workout and also helped with his arm strength.
"It gets your shoulders really strong and gives you good arm strength and a really strong core and legs because of the treading water and swimming laps and throwing the ball around with weight belts," Bozoian said.
Bozoian said the biggest part of his game he would like to improve is his speed. He wants to get his 60-yard-dash time under 7 seconds and the righthanded hitter also wants to work on driving the ball to the opposite field.
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