By: Brian Frank
Logan Warmoth is off to a hot start at the plate this season – currently slashing .265/.375/.455. The Orlando, Florida, native is showing the skills that led the Blue Jays to select him with the twenty-second pick of the first round in the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft.
Warmoth recently spoke with The Herd Chronicles and talked about everything from his college playing days and being drafted by the Blue Jays to what he did during the minor-league COVID shutdown and the adjustments he’s made that have helped him get off to a fast start this season.
Warmoth is in his second season with the Herd. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
Before being drafted by the Blue Jays, Warmoth played shortstop for three seasons at the University of North Carolina.
“Growing up, that was always my dream school,” he said in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “I committed to Stetson – I think my junior year. But I was in talks with Carolina too, and my senior year came around and I just couldn’t say no to my dream school when they offered me. So, I had to make a tough decision to decommit from Stetson and to commit to North Carolina. It was probably one of the best choices I ever made in my life.”
After slashing .337/.403/.481 during his sophomore season, Warmoth spent part of his summer playing for the Brewster Whitecaps in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
“That was awesome,” he remembered. “You’re playing against some of the best college players around. Unfortunately, I got hurt, so my time was cut down a little bit. But just all the memories and the teammates – you look around now and there are so many big leaguers from the Cape that we played with or against. It was really, really cool.”
In his junior season at UNC, he slashed .336/.404/.554 and won the Brooks Wallace Award, which is given to the top college shortstop. Past winners of the award include current major-league stars like Trea Turner, Alex Bregman, and Dansby Swanson. Warmoth still looks back fondly at his days playing at Chapel Hill.
“Getting the opportunity to start as a freshman alongside my roommate (first baseman Zach Gahagan), that was something special," he said. "We talked about playing together all the time in the dorms and then when it came, it was really special. We struggled a bit the first two years but then got to host a regional our junior year. Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best – but hosting a regional and getting Carolina baseball back to where it should be was special. That was my favorite memory there, hosting a regional. Then the following year they went back to Omaha.”
Following his successful junior season he realized another lifelong goal, when the Blue Jays made him the team’s first selection in the 2017 draft.
“That was also a dream come true,” he said. “A lot of hard work was put into it. I was undrafted in high school and didn’t talk to one major-league scout. No in-home visits like some of my other high school teammates may have had. It just made me hungrier for college. I put myself in a good position and everything worked out.”
Warmoth waves to a fan before a game in downtown Buffalo. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
He advanced through Toronto’s system, playing for the GCL Blue Jays and Low-A Vancouver, and then onto High-A Dunedin and eventually Double-A New Hampshire. Warmoth struggled with injuries during the 2018 and 2019 campaigns before heading to the Arizona Fall League following the 2019 season, where he slashed .295/.394/.443 in seventeen games for the Scottsdale Scorpians.
“That was my second full season. My first season I injured my hamstring. Second season I started in High-A, wasn’t doing well, injured the same hamstring. Then I struggled in Double-A – just mechanically going down the rabbit hole. So when I went to Arizona I just made it a point to myself not to watch any video – just have a plan, stick to the plan, and good things happened.”
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor-league season, forcing Warmoth to work out at his home in Florida. Although a year without games was tough for him professionally, it transformed his personal life for the better.
“I got to slow down for once,” he said. “I started dating my fiancé, Sierra Brooks, who’s a professional golfer – so that was a major thing that came out of it. We both were always busy and we were able to slow down and spend time with each other.”
“She would feed me the machine in the cages and then I would go golf with her. That was kind of our day – just go do baseball and then play golf. We just tried to spend as much time as we could together, because we knew we weren’t going to be able to get that time back.”
The couple cherished having time to spend together. Warmoth also appreciated having the opportunity to be able to watch Brooks golf. During a regular baseball season, it’s tough for him to be able to watch her compete in tournaments.
“She has the same in-season and same off season as me,” Warmoth explained. “Last year I caddied the last event of her season, which was an experience. It was a lot of fun. That was my first time caddying for her. I don’t get to go see her much during the season in terms of playing but I follow along.”
Warmoth was invited to big-league camp prior to the 2021 season. He put up some impressive numbers, especially considering how long it had been since he’d appeared in regular game action due to the COVID shutdown. He slashed .364/.391/.591 in eighteen games for the big club.
“It was kind of the same attitude I had in instructs – just going out there and playing,” he said. “It was just enjoying it all again after it had been taken away for a full year. Just enjoy the time out there.”
“(The pandemic) took away our job and our profession and the sport we love. It was definitely rewarding getting back and just playing.”
Warmoth began playing in the outfield for the first time professionally during the 2021 season. He played in 104 games in the outfield for the 2021 Bisons and none in the infield.
“Being able to play in and go back on balls – that was the biggest thing," he said of what was the most difficult part of transitioning to the outfield. "I played outfield in high school my sophomore and junior years, just because we were a stacked high school team – just to play. So I had a little bit of experience, but nothing like professional or college level experience in the outfield.”
He’s played almost exclusively in the outfield again this season but has also played a few games at second base. Even though he’s mostly been utilized as an outfielder, he still makes a point of taking infield regularly before games to keep his positional versatility.
“I still want to be in the infield as much as I can,” he said. “I didn’t get to play any last year just because of the way the roster was worked out. Hopefully, I’ll get some chances. I played last week there (at second base). But I just want to be versatile and do whatever is best to get to the next level.”
He was a part of last season’s Bisons team which played home games in Trenton, New Jersey, to allow the Blue Jays to play in Buffalo while the Canada-U.S. border was closed. Once the border restrictions were eased, the Blue Jays returned to Toronto and the Bisons were finally able to return to Sahlen Field in early August.
Warmoth early last season at a game in Trenton. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
“That was the first year of playing again, so I was really just looking forward to playing,” he said of the uncertainty of where the team would be located. “Once we got to Buffalo it was amazing – one of the best facilities we’ll ever play at, especially in Triple-A. So that was amazing. It was different for sure going to two places as your home – but it was easily managed.”
The 2021 edition of the Herd carved out a special place in the team’s long, storied history – by becoming the first Bisons team to finish atop the division in sixteen seasons.
“We just had a good group of guys,” he remembered. “You loved showing up to the field just to hang out with them, let alone play with them. Everyone got along. We joked around and played games and got to know one another. Especially playing at the alt site that year because there was a month delay in the season. So we really got to know one another and it turned out to be a special group.”
He credits a lot of the team’s success, both last year and this season, to the leadership of manager Casey Candaele.
“Casey’s been around the game a long time and he’s an incredible manager,” Warmoth said. “He said from day one – just show up, be on time, and play hard – and he means it.”
He sees similarities between the camaraderie of last season’s division winners and this year’s team.
“It’s really fun to play for Casey, Corey, Devo – everyone. They make it really relaxed. They have a good time. Everyone else – we just get along well. We’ve had some good chances to talk and really get to know one another. That’s a big part in trusting your teammates and just playing well.”
Batting Practice at Sahlen Field last season. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
Warmoth credits his hot start this season to adjustments he made during the spring.
“I’ve gotten in trouble in the past with tipping the barrel and not being consistent through the zone,” he said. “In spring training, we messed around with a couple things and this allowed me to stay athletic, not get too mechanical and to clean up my path. I’m just trying to put the ball in play more, stick to my approach, stick to my routine. I always have that plan going into the year, but I’m really trying to hold myself accountable through this year – writing in my notes and just staying consistent through good days and bad days. Do the same work every day and good things will happen.”
“My setup is miles different than anywhere it’s ever been. That’s the main difference. Everything else I feel like – lower body and everything – is pretty similar. But where I start my hands and where I swing them up to just allows me to be in a natural, athletic hitting position.”
Candaele recently talked about how the keys to Warmoth’s success are striking out less and putting the ball in play more.
“He made some changes in his setup,” Candaele said. “He changed a couple of quirks that he had in his swing. He kind of cleaned it all up. It was always a situation with Logan that if he puts the ball in play, he’s going to be successful. He had a balls in play average that was pretty high. So if he put it in play, he’s going to be successful. He worked on that and committed himself to changing and sticking with it. It’s paying off so far. He’s hitting great.”
Warmoth has drastically cut down on his strikeouts so far this year. Last season, he struck out in thirty-three percent of his plate appearances. This season, he's cut that rate down to just sixteen percent. As a result, his numbers have gone up across the board. His slash line has gone from .228/.350/.357 for a .707 OPS last season to .264/.375/.455 and an .830 OPS this year.
“I’d like to be a good contact hitter,” Warmoth said. “I’m just learning about myself as a player and starting to understand what I do well and what I don’t do well. I’m just trying to give myself the best opportunity to make it to the next level.”
Warmoth at Sahlen Field. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles