Gig Harbor High 2016 grad Mike Toglia rode the momentum from his outstanding high school baseball season into the summer baseball season, playing for the Wenatchee AppleSox in the competitive West Coast League.
The UCLA signee, who was recently drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 35th round of Major League Baseball’s draft, led the entire West Coast League in home runs with seven and RBIs, with 40.
“It was a huge accomplishment for me,” Toglia said.
For maybe the first time in his life, Toglia dealt with some failure in baseball early in the season.
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“I was striking out a lot (early in the season),” he said. “I was seeing better pitching. Better off-speed stuff — that was the biggest difference. The biggest thing I worked on was changing my approach.”
During his baseball career, he had yet to see such high-level splitters and other off-speed pitches. So he worked hard to adapt.
“The biggest thing was just thinking less at the plate,” Toglia said.
Toglia enjoyed his time in Wenatchee.
“When you first get to Wenatchee, you think it’s small, but over the span of the month, the town just grew on me,” he said. “We found a lot of cool places and local markets. A couple buddies and me drove up to Lake Chelan on an off day and bought those water trampolines, so that was awesome. … I just had such a good experience. My host family was great, I loved my teammates, and I got to play baseball every day. It was one of the best experiences of my life so far.”
Toglia wasn’t the only Gig Harbor product to put up some impressive numbers in the West Coast League. The batting title went to Peninsula graduate Shane Hanon, who finished the season with a .331 batting average, giving Hanon and Toglia the batting Triple Crown between the two of them. Toglia met Hanon for the first time at the West Coast League All-Star Game.
“I think it’s really cool — it puts Gig Harbor and Peninsula on the map a little bit,” Toglia said. “A lot of people in the league are from California, Arizona and other places, and when they hear ‘Gig Harbor,’ they have no clue where that is.”
Toglia has been recruited to play outfield at UCLA, but an injury to Wenatchee’s first baseman put Toglia into the starting first base role.
“I definitely improved at first base,” said Toglia, who hasn’t played in the infield since early high school. “I really improved in the field.”
While Toglia will stick with his plan to enroll at UCLA in the fall, he said it was quite the thrill to get a phone call from the Rockies on draft day.
“That was one of the coolest things in my life,” he said. “Growing up, that’s the dream, to hear your name called. When they called my phone and said, ‘We want you to play for us.’ Even though I knew I was going to school, it’s still something I’ll cherish.”
Toglia will head to UCLA in late September.