|Zach Coppola, image- Jay Floyd|
Recently, I talked with Zach about coaches who have made lasting impressions on him, his family, Reading Fightin Phils fans and more. Read ahead for that full interview.
-It's been a great 2017 for you so far. Hitting for high average, earning a promotion. Talk about your success.
It's been a good year. I'm just working hard, trying to stay consistent. I think that's been my main goal. But, yeah, it's been going well.
-What has been the difference for you? 'Cause last year you were with (Class A) Lakewood, missed some time with injury, you make it to Clearwater and jump another level to Double-A. I think it's a pretty quick path to this level without missing a beat. Do you notice significant differences between these levels you've played at?
I think as you go up the pitching gets better and better. You know, their command, their off-speed are a little better, pitching backwards sometimes. Pitching mainly, but other than that, they do a pretty good job preparing us for each level.
-Who has made a big impact on you from the Phillies system? Is there a coach or a player that you've gained some insight from that has helped you a great deal?
I think just talking with (outfield coach Andy) Abad around here. He's got so much knowledge and he shares it well with us, so it's always been cool to chat with him.
-Every now and again, I'll see an interaction on Twitter, people with your same last name liking or retweeting things I post about you. They seem very supportive. Can you talk about the backing of your loved ones a little bit?
My family's big into the Twitter world. They show a lot of support. It's awesome to see. You know, seeing different retweets and stuff, it's all over my feed, when I see it. Yeah, it's always great to have that support, especially with them behind you and them coming out to watch you play, so it's great to have that support.
-Through the lower levels there may be low attendance or just fans that don't have the same connection as the Reading crowds can have, as they're fans that grew up as Phillies fans. Have you noticed a difference playing in front of that Reading crowd compared to the other levels?
Yeah, absolutely. It's almost like you see the difference. They're actual fans. They're not just there... Like, they care about the game and they care about what's going on during the game. The fans there are so much more involved and it's crazy. It's awesome.
-I know the Phillies are big on volunteering, whether it's Boy and Girls Clubs, or helping with a local youth league, or something like that. What does it mean to you to help you the community there when you get the chance?
Yeah, they do a great job of giving us different opportunities to make it easy for us. But we did something with special needs kids, playing a game in Reading and that was awesome. Our whole team went and it was a cool experience to see them being able to play what we play, so it was fun.
-On that topic, I'll talk to guys that experienced some coaching from a pro or an older known player in their youth that made a big impression that lasted for some time. Do you have a guy like that, who helped you?
My hitting coach back home, Mike Mahoney, he was with the Cubs for a while and it was always fun watching him and how he carried himself and seeing how he went about his business as a professional baseball player. You know, you look up to him growing up and how he was a professional baseball player from Iowa, so you don't get that too often. It was pretty cool to see and I still see him now when I get back home, so it's always cool to share stories and chat with him.
-Were there any players you watched on TV or in person as a young guy that you might have wanted to emulate?
Ichiro was always a player that I liked. He could run, a small guy. But, Brett Gardner right now. Just players with my similar attributes.
-A couple guys on your team have drawn some attention. You've got All-Stars like Carlos Tocci and Mitch Walding. What's it like playing with those guys?
Oh, it's great. You get on base with those guy behind you, it's pretty fun to watch. Especially with the home runs coming and playing in Reading. It's pretty fun. Yeah, it's exciting.
-Do you have memories from playing as a young guy of when you realized you might have the potential of making a career in the pro ranks?
It was mainly my junior year of high school. I think our team had 13 or 14 Division 1 players and one draftee and I think we all became really close and now in the off-seasons we still hang out and work out together, some of us that are still playing. And I think that was kind of when we all kind of realized that, "Hey, this could be our future!" So, we all became really close and it's pretty cool.