Being so engrossed in the routine of an everyday baseball player, Brady Policelli lost track of time.
Getting out of bed during a late-May morning in his Lakeland, Florida, apartment, the Walkersville High alum took a quick glance at his cellphone. An email from a Florida State League official reminded him that the three-day All-Star break in his Lakeland Flying Tigers’ 132-game season was right around the corner.
“When I got that email, I looked [at a calendar] and I was like, ‘We only have a few more weeks until the All-Star Game,’” Policelli said.
It turned out that Policelli’s break would be even shorter, and the 24-year-old didn’t really care. The main purpose of the email: to inform him that he had been selected to play in the FSL All-Star Game as a designated hitter.
“I called my family and my fiancée, [Bailey Wilson], right away and told them,” Policelli said. “It was definitely a cool feeling seeing that you’re on a list with a bunch of guys that are the top players in the league.”
Two weeks later, Policelli was also invited to participate in the FSL Home Run Derby, which took place two hours before the start of the All-Star Game on June 15 at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.
The opportunity to participate in the All-Star Game festivities served as a continuation of what has already been a memorable year for Policelli, who has developed into a jack-of-all-trades for the Flying Tigers, the Detroit Tigers’ High-A affiliate.
Before his season started in April, Policelli was invited to the Tigers’ major league camp, where he had the chance to pick the brains of players who had reached the highest level in professional baseball. Coming out of spring training, he sought to improve his discipline at the plate.
“One of the bigger things was trying to use the whole field in the sense of hitting the ball to the opposite field and not chasing [bad pitches] and really making sure I’m feeling good in the box when I step up to hit,” said Policelli, a right-handed batter.
That approach helped him pile up extra-base hits, which have been a big part of his All-Star season. Policelli leads his team in triples (eight) while his 12 doubles, nine home runs and 39 RBIs rank second to Kody Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.
Policelli, who has also stolen 14 bases, said six of his eight triples resulted from him hitting the ball to right field. He sees opposite-field hitting and general excellence at the plate as going hand-in-hand, noting that Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is widely regarded as Major League Baseball’s best player.
“He can hit the ball to right field with ease,” Policelli said. “I don’t think it’s coincidental.”
Policelli took a much different approach at the plate in the Home Run Derby, which featured a field of five other players. Policelli hit two home runs in the first round, failing to advance to the semifinals.
“I got knocked out in the first round, but I managed to hit two, so that was more than I was hoping to hit,” Policelli said. “My goal was just to manage to hit one and have fun with it, and I did. It was a blast.”
The FSL South team limited Policelli’s North team to just three hits in a 2-0 win, but Policelli collected one of the three hits, lining a single to center in the seventh inning.
Some of the more prominent participants in the All-Star Game included South shortstop Royce Lewis and North third baseman Jonathan India. The Twins selected Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft, and the Reds used the fourth pick in the 2018 draft to take India.
“It made me feel good when the game was over,” Policelli said of his single. “I’ll take 1-for-3 any day.”
Policelli now finds himself in a position of trying to regain the consistency he showed for much of the first half of the season.
At the end of May, Policelli posted a more-than-respectable .280 batting average but then endured what becomes inevitable for most hitters in minor league baseball during the course of a five-month season: a slump. His batting average now sits at .253.
“It’s part of the crazy game of baseball,” Policelli said. “It’s such a long season … you have to make adjustments here and there.”
In spring training, the Tigers’ pushed Policelli to hone his defensive skills behind the plate, and he has started 23 games at catcher. But Policelli has also logged at least nine starts at three other positions: left field, right field and third base. He has also served as the Flying Tigers’ DH 17 times.
While he gets moved around from position to position, Policelli enjoys the challenge of achieving excellence wherever he plays.
“I don’t want to be OK at every position, I want to be great and try and show no matter where they put me, I’m going to succeed and help the team win,” Policelli said. “That’s one of the biggest goals of mine this year, is to improve at every different position — not just catching or infield or outfield but everywhere. I feel like it’s been going well, though.”
For Policelli, playing the role of a super-utility player keeps baseball from becoming monotonous.
“It keeps the mind fresh,” Policelli said. “You never know where you’re going to play. It’s a pretty good feeling.”