COLUMBUS, Ohio – An athletic shoe company ran a series of advertisements back in the 1990s touting the athletic abilities of a pair of U.S. Olympic decathletes who could run, jump, hurdle, etc. One of the versions peaked interest with a simple “See Dan Run” statement.
Fast forward to the spring of 2010 and Ohio State could have its own award-winning – hopefully – marketing campaign featuring junior catcher Dan Burkhart, the reigning Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. He was a semifinalist for the Coleman Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year Award last year. And he is a preseason All-American this year by PING! Baseball because, in all seriousness, Dan Burkhart can do it all.
See Dan Hit. One doesn’t even need to talk with former minor league catcher and third-year Buckeye assistant Pete Jenkins to know that Burkhart can hit. “He rakes,” Jenkins likes to say. Burkhart hit to the tune of .354 last year with 10 home runs, 62 RBI, a .510 slugging pct. and a .429 on base pct.
See Dan Catch. Burkhart has a .985 fielding percentage, a figure that is even more impressive when one realizes he catches virtually every game. He started 57 times last year and 48 times as a freshman. His three passed balls in 2009…possibly and probably the result of a confused or weak OSU scorer.
See Dan Throw. Thirty-three percent of those attempting to steal on Burkhart last year failed. “He shuts down the opponents’ running game,” Jenkins says. Kind of like the Ohio State football team’s defense – the Silver Bullets – shuts down its opponents’ running game.
See Dan Lead. How important is Burkhart to this team? There were other players on other good Big Ten teams last year that topped Burkhart’s average, 26 extra base hits, 23 multi-hit games and 17 multi-RBI games. But not many catchers nationally topped his 57 starts behind the plate, though. And when the Big Ten coaches selected the Player of the Year, Ohio State’s No. 15 was the No. 1 choice.
The catching position is more than just Dan, though. Behind Burkhart are four more catchers, two veterans with collegiate experience and two who have yet to play collegiately. All are willing to do whatever it takes to help this team.
Shawn Forsythe is the most experienced of the group with four starts behind the dish in 2009 and 18 total appearances. The senior is a solid defensive catcher who receives well and does a nice job blocking the plate, according to Jenkins. He scored four runs and had three RBI in 2009.
Fourth-year junior D.J. Hanlin has caught on to the catching position nicely. And why shouldn’t he? He has baseball and Ohio State in his genes. His father, Mike, was a Buckeye between 1975-78. D.J. has gotten into four games so far and has hit .500 with an RBI and a run scored.
“D.J. is baseball smart,” Jenkins said. “Plus he works hard, he has great hands and he can hit.”
David Fathalikhani is a second-year freshman and Steel Russell is a true freshman recruit out of Wyndmoor, Pa. He, too, has baseball heritage. His father, John, is the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Burkhart, Forsythe, Hanlin, Fathalikhani and Russell: the 2010 Ohio State catchers.
Oops, almost forgot this one final Burkhart note. He even motored around the bases for three triples last year, which is one more good reason to visit Bill Davis Stadium in 2010.
See Dan Run.