Fort Myers, Fla. — Pennsylvania native Nick Bitsko’s baseball journey is just getting underway and he spoke to Perfect Game’s Jeff Dahn about what it means to be invited to such a prestigious event.
Just being surrounded by so many talented players is the reason Bitsko found himself on Cloud 9 when he received the invitation to the event. He immediately began thinking about interacting with all these other guys who are also just starting to get very serious about their own baseball journeys.
“You get to pick their brains and see what they’ree doing differently so you can figure out what you can incorporate in your game, too,” Bitsko said. “They're obviously trained by different people – different professionals – so I'm sure they have different styles of how they hit, how they pitch, how they field. You just talk to them and see what their mindset is when they go out here and play baseball.”
Bitsko is obviously an athletic kid, and he uses that athleticism to play basketball at a pretty high level during Pennsylvania's winter months. He loves playing hoops but he does not play that game as competitively as he does baseball. It's mostly a way of staying in shape while also resting his pitching arm for months at a time.
Bitsko has already built an impressive travel-ball resume and has been named to five PG all-tournament teams while playing with the Buck County Generals, the Tri-State Arsenal and the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox. Playing into the summer after his local school's spring season is completed has been a good fit for the tall-right-hander.
“It's fun; I think it's a great time," he said. "You get to meet a lot of new kids along the way, too, and you make new friends and build relationships that hopefully will last a lifetime."
Despite his young age, Bitsko has already committed to the University of Virginia and head coach Brian O'Connor and his staff.
Virginia extended its offer to Bitsko looking at him as a two-way player, and although he has climbed the PG national prospect rankings as a primary pitcher he isn't ready to put down the bat quite yet; he plays the outfield and some shortstop when not pitching.
One of the most impressive numbers on Bitsko's PG Player Profile is “4.0” which is the grade-point average he carried with him into Central Bucks East HS this month. He believes that academics trumps even baseball in the grand scheme of things. He's already mature enough to realize that if baseball doesn't work out he can fall back on his strong academic record.
Virginia's reputation for academic excellence was one of the reasons Bitsko chose to commit to the school. But the baseball side of things – an NCAA Div. I College World Series championship in 2015 stands out – was also appealing.
"The coaching staff was very welcoming. I felt at home when I went there my first time, so it was just kind of like, 'This is the place," he said.
The journey has just begun, sort of like that small stream building into a mighty river. There is no guarantee the No. 1 prospect ranking will always be in place but there is a sense of certainty that Bitsko's determination will never fade.
Perfect Game’s Jeff Dahn contributed this report