Sale Headlines Great Year For Northwest Talent
Josh Sale makes people notice him.
Whether it's due to his sculpted, muscular frame, his work ethic or his tools, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound outfielder from Bishop Blanchet High in Seattle always finds a way to make people remember him.
In 2008, as a rising junior at the Area Code Games, Sale accomplished the rare feat of hitting for the cycle—making sure the hundreds of scouts and college coaches in attendance would remember his name.
Sale's mailman can vouch for that.
He received 31 Division-I offers, with scholarships to many of them. While he considered more-traditional powerhouses like Arizona State, Oregon State, Arkansas, California, Stanford and Clemson, Sale chose a program on the rise with his commitment to Gonzaga because he gelled with the coaching staff and wanted to pick a school close enough to home, so his parents could watch him play.
His teammate last year, Jacob Lamb, is now the third baseman for the Huskies, but didn't try and talk Sale into the purple and gold.
"He kind of knew I wasn't really big into the UW," Sale said. "I mean, it's a great school but personally, for me, another reason that I chose Gonzaga is that it's got 6,500 students. UW has 40,000 or 50,000, I think. The class sizes at Gonzaga, the student to teacher ratio is 13 to 1. I don't want to be going to a school where I'm going to be sitting in a classroom with 250 kids looking at a TV monitor. I want to be able to have interaction with my teachers and stuff like that."
Plenty Of Options
But chances are, he won't end up at college anyway. Sale is a polished hitter—the best in the high school class, for both average and power—and is expected to be picked in the top half of the first round.
"I think he might have more bat speed than Travis Snider," an American League area scout said. "He's a special kid, he's got special makeup. A lot of people say that, but when you've got a guy that's hitting at 6 a.m. before he goes to class, just to get extra work in, that's pretty unique."
The scout said he can envision Sale hitting .300 with 25 or more home runs in the big leagues.
"He has an extreme understanding of the strike zone, inside and outside, what he's doing, what the pitcher's trying to do to him and I think he just works on it," the scout said. "You should see him now, he's even stronger than he was in the Area Codes. It's very impressive."
Sale has always been a gifted athlete, but his focus hasn't always been on baseball.
His first passion was golf. He had a single-digit handicap by the time he was 12 and made many state appearances for the Washington Junior Golf Association until he was 15.
The best part? Although Sale is a lefthanded hitter, he played golf from the right side.
"I used to golf lefthanded, but at age 7, when I went to a camp, I was messing around with my friend's driver and hit it 200 yards righthanded," Sale said. "They liked my hip turn a lot better from the right side than from my left, so that's how I started that, but I've always been a lefthanded hitter."
Now, in addition to baseball, Sale loves weight training.
His father, Jesse, is Samoan and is a former drug-free power-lifter that was once in the top 5 percent in the nation.
"That was what fueled him and it's run in the family," Josh said. "He really got me introduced to it when I was fairly young. I was about age 8 when I started doing body weight resistance training. He really got me into it and I've been hooked ever since, I just love it."
Sale and several other baseball players in the area hit the gym three times a week to focus on increasing their explosive strength. Sale hasn't maxed out on bench press this year, but last year, he could put up 365 pounds. He squats 540 pounds and leg presses 735 pounds—but that's only because that's the most his machine will hold. Mostly, the group focuses on core strength and they do 600-700 ab repetitions per workout.
While scouts love Sale's bat and work ethic, there are some questions about his defense. He has a better body than Snider did, as Sale is more tightly-wound and trimmer in the waist and ankles. Sale is a solid-average runner and is working hard on his infield defense. Ideally, he says he would like to play third base.
Scouts don't believe he'll stay there, but are fine with moving him to left field because they have so much faith in his bat.
"For me, he's going to have to play left field because, defensively, third baseman, I mean we're moving shortstops to third base," the scout said. "Those guys are really agile. He'll have to play a corner where it's all about the bat and power and I think he'll play a plenty good enough left field."