Cocalico Corner: Fielding some (future) dreams of his own

By on July 12, 2017
Cocalico Corner Donna Reed

Joey Current.

Remember that name.

I expect you’ll be hearing it a lot in the years and decades to come.

Right now you’re hearing it because Joey Current, age 13 with nearly a decade of baseball experience under his belt, is preparing to play in the 2017 Latin America Baseball Classic.

The classic, which includes competition between teams representing 27 different nations in the Americas, will occur Aug. 2 through 8 in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

The classic has been held in the Dominican Republic for the past 34 years and there’s a good reason for that: Major League Baseball statistics show that Dominican-born comprise the largest percentage of all foreign-born professionals in the sport.

When Joey, a Cocalico Middle School student, gets on that island and competes on its well-used baseball fields, he’ll be hoping to absorb some of that MLB-sized talent. But Cocalico born and bred, it’s clear he’s already on his way.

Joey Current.

Joey Current.

Joey’s mom, Joielynn Current, administrative assistant at West Cocalico Township, said her son started playing T-ball when he was about four. Even before that, though, when he was watching his older sister Taylor playing T-ball, Joey came to the games wearing cleats and Philadelphia Phillies gear and toting a wiffle-ball bat.

He was a part of the Cocalico baseball program till he was about 9 and then started with the Spooky Nook baseball program in Manheim. The teams played in venues from Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., to tournaments in New Jersey and closer to home in Hershey and Harrisburg.

Joey is a utility player, filling in posts from pitcher to catcher to shortstop. He played with the Keystone State Bombers for one season but then moved on to the Reading Bluerocks, an organization affiliated with the former Grand Slam located in the Reading Regional Airport business campus.

Joielynn said her son’s skills really blossomed under the guidance of coach Todd Louviaux.

“In the last three years, he has really excelled,” she said.

In January, Grand Slam, which has since been acquired by principals with the Reading Fightins organization, was holding tryouts for the Latin American Classics. Louviaux asked his Bluerocks players to participate.

Joey decided to try out in the older of the two age groups, 14 and up. On Martin Luther King Day, he received the good news that he was selected. While he was one of nine local youth chosen (including his cousin Tristin Current, 14, and Austin Ruzika-Porter, 15, both Cocalico High students), he is the only one traveling to the Dominican Republic to actually play in the classic.

“I was very excited,” said Joey of the day he learned the news. “It just shows how all the hard work I put in paid off.”

He is one of five boys in his age group from the Northeast who will join others from the four other U.S. regions (Southeast, Southwest, Central, Northwest, and Northeast), to form two teams in the 13U level.

Joey said Louviaux, who will not be at the classic, is however, working his young charge.

“The coach has a special class for me — hitting and going over what is needed for when we get down there,” he said.

Joielynn said professional baseball scouts attend the classic, with an eye for those who will go on to be high school and college standouts.

She credits Louviaux for paving the way for many of his Bluerocks to attain scholarships to play college baseball. She’s hoping that for her baseball diehard son, that will be his path as well.

The August classic falls in the same month as Joey’s birthday. It’s a Current tradition to visit a major league park to mark Joey’s special day.

Joielynn said the family, all of whom will accompany Joey for his star-making turn in Santo Domingo, will first take a trip out to Pittsburgh. They’ll see a Pirates game which will be preceded by a wooden bat tournament.

“He lives and breathes baseball,” she said. “MLB is on in my house all the time.”

In his summer off, Joey tries to better his skills with camps and classics with the Bluerocks. He also participates in the John Good program for athletes at Cocalico High.

Joey’s love of baseball must, at least in part, be in his genes.

Parents Joielynn and Joe, a service technician at Al’s Service Center, run the old Zinn’s Park fields behind what is now Park Place Diner. It’s where the Bluerocks practice outdoors. It’s also the site of a variety of weekend tournaments.

“We’ve had it for seven years,” said Joielynn.

Joey knows the field well and appreciates that playing with the Bluerocks, which is comprised of youth from well beyond Cocalico, offers him an up-close perspective of what his regional academic competition will be as he plays with his home team.

He expects the competition in the Latin American Classic to be cutting-edge.

“I heard the kids are going to be great,” he said.

In time, Joey, who says he practices “hitting, fielding, pitching, and catching” may face one his young international rivals on a Major League field, maybe even the Philadelphia Phillies to whom he stays loyal despite this year’s dismal record.

What advice does he have for young children just starting to play baseball?

“I would say to have fun and play the game and enjoy it,” he said.

What is his personal goal?

“I’d like to be the best of the best.”

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