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Justin Seager Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 39

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(Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam)

“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.

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Growing up in the Seager family, with older brother (current Mariners third baseman) Kyle and younger brother (current Dodgers shortstop) Corey, you might think Justin Seager had no choice but to be a baseball player.

However, when you ask Justin, one of the secrets of the athletic family with a competitive streak is that the brothers were free to play any sport they wanted.

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All three Seager brothers played basketball, and Justin enjoyed the sport enough that in his teens he even gave up baseball for a time. Baseball wasn’t done with Justin though, and as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

“Being away from baseball—it almost kind of hurt me. I felt like it just kept calling me back,” said Seager. “It was almost kind of good for me too, it re-fueled the fire.”

The middle Seager jumped back into baseball, and also jumped into a more mature body, with a nine-inch growth spurt heading into his junior year. He went to work on adding muscle to that taller frame and living up to the inspiration he felt watching his older brother slide into the starting lineup at the University of North Carolina.

Unfortunately, for Justin, a back injury hampered his junior year of high school and kept him out for his entire summer season following that junior year—what was then the most crucial summer when it came to being recruited for players with college aspirations.

Justin had to forge a different path to the next level than his brothers—Kyle had been a prized recruit for the Tar Heels, and Corey was South Carolina’s top recruit before being pried from campus as the Dodgers’ first-round pick. By the time Justin got back to full strength he’d missed the boat on the recruiting trail, but wasn’t going to let the lack of a full ride sitting at his feet deter him from aspirations of playing at the next level. The North Carolina native stayed in-state and headed to UNC-Charlotte.

“I had a chance to go to the next level—I went in as a walk-on and had to earn my spot,” said Seager. “I believed in myself—I knew I was a good ballplayer, and I wanted to prove it.”

Prove it he did, earning steady playing time and a scholarship as a freshman on a 43-win team that made it regionals. After a middling sophomore year, Seager turned a solid summer in the Northwoods League and then broke out big-time as a junior.

He led the Atlantic 10 in doubles and the 49er squad in the Triple Crown categories en route to being named the Atlantic 10 Conference co-Player of the Year, making his own mark in baseball.

Following that stellar spring, Seager was selected by the Mariners in the 12th round, and chose to forgo his senior year to chase big league dreams. Upon entering pro ball, he shifted mainly to first base, putting a lot of pressure on his bat to produce if he wanted to make it to the show.

A self-admitted “tinkerer” with his swing, Seager began to struggle as he got into High-A, searching for the right feel at the plate to lock into the power he knew resided in his swing. He relished that work in the offseasons, where he’d be able to tweak his mechanics with his favorite peers in the game.

“Offseasons were a great time, because I got to spend a lot of time with my brothers,” said Justin. “We really went into the lab and dove into our work (…) One could flip, one could hit, and one could watch.”

That offseason work eventually got Justin to a point of confidence with his swing, but by that point he was a 25-year old bench player in Double-A whose opportunity in pro baseball seemed to have passed him by. He requested a release during the 2017 season, which would end up being his last in pro ball.

It wouldn’t be his end in baseball though—those years of offseason work and constant swing tinkering parlayed perfectly into his current career move. Presently Seager works as a specialist for BlastMotion, helping current pro players use technology to find the swing that works for them.

On our latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ we’re joined by Justin Seager. He talks forging his own path in baseball, how to work yourself into the lineup as a walk-on, and who the most competitive Seager brother is.

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