By Shoshana Burrus
Arizona Daily Wildcat September 30, 1996
John Powers always had two goals - to play professional baseball and have a college degree.
Soon he will have both.
Powers, who was drafted to the San Diego Padres in the 21st round of the amateur draft in June after four years as a Wildcat, said he still has some unfinished business at the UA.
"My biggest fear is losing sight of my goals relating to school," he said. "Graduating and getting a degree is very important to me."
The 22-year-old is two months away from having met those goals - in December he will graduate with a degree in political science.
Powers said focusing on more than one passion in life is good.
"Playing pro baseball is for the resume," he said. "It used to be that school was something to fall back on but now baseball is something to fall back on."
A native of Scottsdale, Ariz., Powers said deep down inside he truly thinks that he can make it to the big leagues.
"I usually don't say it," Powers said. "Baseball players have always been superstitious and I don't want to ruin the karma."
So far, Powers said he is satisfied with where he is.
Although spring training doesn't begin until February, Powers is still working on his skills.
"Right now I'm lifting, jogging and hitting on my own," Powers said. "It's easy to lose your timing in the off-season."
Since Powers was drafted, he's been working his way up. He skipped the rookie leagues and went straight to playing at Class-A Clinton, Iowa, where he hit .259 with a home run in 30 games.
Despite his success, Powers said he was frustrated with the draft because he was drafted so late.
"It gave me more motivation (to move up in the league)," Powers said. "The coaches felt I was good enough to play in the single-A. It helped that I was hitting well and I am able to play more than one position."
Powers played second base for the Lumberkings but occasionally played third base as well. However, because of school, Powers was unable to join his teammates until the season was almost over. The Class-A season starts in February and runs until Labor Day.
With 150 games over that stretch, the midwest road trips on buses can be tiring, so the league keeps trips to a minimum.
"The road trips are short," Powers said. "They're usually about three to four days and then we go home."
Powers said the grind of playing every single day is the most difficult part about the league.
There are also things about the Class-A league that Powers said are challenging.
"Adjusting to the pitching has been tough," he said. "They throw a lot faster."
Powers also added that getting used to hitting with a wooden baseball bat has been an adjustment. The NCAA uses aluminum bats.
Since the first day Powers got involved with the Padres, he said he has been treated very well by coaches and other players.
"They court you," he said. "They make you feel a lot of pride to be playing with the Padres."
Powers said the coaches have helped him stay focused and kept his confidence up.
"They are very supportive," he said. "They know how hard it is to play everyday."
Although the professional baseball draft can be a complicated process, Powers said he is in the middle of his way to the top.
"There are six levels of play and I've reached my first goal by playing in single-A," said Powers. "With each new level, you set a new goal."
Powers said that most college rookies who get drafted start out playing in the rookie league. He said he is playing the way he has always played.
"I didn't have to worry about fundamentals too much," Powers said. "(Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division play) was so good that I can play at the same level as all of the players (in Class-A). The first day I got there I felt confident that I could pl ay with these guys."
Powers, whose uncles Steve and Dan played for UA, said his game hasn't changed much since he left the Wildcats.
"I pace myself and take it easy by playing the same way," Powers said. "I put everything into every play and I act like each play is my last play. I give it my all."
Powers has already done something that most players would dream about, hitting a game-winning double with two outs at the bottom of the ninth inning.
Powers attributes the skills and his mental toughness in those situations to the coaching staff at the UA.
"(Former UA head coach Jerry) Kindall and (UA head coach Jerry) Stitt have taught me to focus on the game," Powers said. "We all go through slumps but they taught me to be mentally consistent."