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Terre Haute Rex

July 15, 2010

Meggs helping red-hot Rex with versatility, energy

TERRE HAUTE — In deference to author Thomas Wolfe, whose quote “you can’t go home again” has commonly entered American speech, Joe Meggs is “happy to be home again.” Even if it’s just for a couple of months.

Meggs resided in Terre Haute for only three years, but he made a huge impact. Not just as a baseball player — two standout seasons at Terre Haute North and a promising freshman year at Indiana State University — but also as a consummate team player.

His three-year tenure coincided with that of Lindsay Meggs, his dad and former head baseball coach at ISU. When opportunity came knocking for the elder Meggs to move up the coaching ladder at the University of Washington, Joe was afforded the same opportunity in the Great Northwest.

After sitting out last year as a redshirt, Joe was looking forward to a summer of playing baseball to get prepared for his sophomore season with the Huskies.

Joe’s goal didn’t pan out, at least initially. A lack of playing time with the Bend (Ore.) Elk — going 0 for 8 in just three games — in the West Coast League led him to seek another opportunity.

It just so happened, the Terre Haute Rex were short a player in mid-June when Cooper Smith decided to return to his native Texas. That set the stage for Meggs’ return to Terre Haute.

“His dad, Lindsay, and I go way back,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett said. “He had sent me a text and said Joe was interested in coming out this way. [Joe] was playing out in Oregon in a league. I don’t think it was the best situation for Joe. He just asked if we had any opportunities, and I said ‘absolutely.’ So [Joe] and I got on the phone, talked. Said bring him in, we need him.”

“I just wasn’t playing as much as I needed to,” Meggs said after Sunday’s home game vs. Danville. “Having sat out the whole year I felt like I needed to play as much as I could. I knew Brian and Casey [assistant coach DeGroote], obviously. I felt like this would be a good situation.”

A good situation, indeed.

Meggs has been playing pretty much every day since his return, batting .300 (18 for 60), with nine RBI. He’s making a lot of contact, striking out just seven times in 60 at bats — once every 8.6 times at bat.

Those are similar numbers to his freshman year at ISU when he ranked sixth on the team in batting average at .326 in 34 games. Four of the five players ahead of Meggs in batting average — Nick Ciolli, Brady Shoemaker, Ryan Strausborger and Bronco Lafrenz — are all playing in professional minor league systems.

“Obviously I wasn’t able to play [this season] because of NCAA transfer rules, but I was able to do everything but play,” Meggs noted. “Practice, lift. So that was tough, but I feel I’m a better player because of it. Anytime you have the chance to gain another year, just the knowledge of the game by watching and being there, observing. Every little bit helps.”

While Meggs has only been away from Terre Haute for about a year, he’s pleased with the upgrades to the ISU baseball facilities in that time.

“It’s great,” Meggs said about playing at the newly revamped Bob Warn Field. “Playing in the new stadium and just to see how far this field has come and this program has come. It’s a great place to play.”

Meggs also welcomed the opportunity to play again alongside former ISU teammates Brandon Dorsett, Koby Kraemer and Kyle Burnam. That quartet played last summer in a collegiate wooden bat league for a team in Sikeston, Mo.

“Playing with my buddies,” Meggs agreed was a perk being with the Rex. “It’s a great field, a great organization. I think everyone enjoys playing with the Rex.”

While predominately a catcher in high school, Meggs has learned quickly that playing more than one position is beneficial to his baseball future. With the Rex, Meggs has played first base, both corner outfield positions and also as a designated hitter.

“Growing up I’ve always caught or played infield,” Meggs said. “Obviously, the more positions you can play the better chance you have of being in the lineup. That’s what I try to do I guess.”

Outfield is his newest position, but he’s adapting to the position well over time.

“I get more comfortable out there every day,” Meggs stated. “I didn’t starting playing there until the end of last summer, really. But I’m starting to feel better out there now.”

Dorsett is pleased to have the versatile Meggs available to be placed anywhere in his batting lineup and in the field of play.

“Love Joe’s intensity,” Dorsett said. “Joe comes to play every day. Every at bat. He won’t give in. Anything he does he’s like that. He brings a lot to our team. He can play first base, outfield, [designated hitter] . . . he can catch if he had too. Very happy to have him.”

Meggs’ two younger siblings also made an impact while in Terre Haute, his sister Kelly in three sports at North and brother Jack in the middle school ranks. Kelly will be playing college basketball at Cal-Irvine this year, while Jack will be a high school sophomore in Bellevue, Wash.

She’s leaving at the end of the month,” Meggs said of his little sister heading off to college. “My brother’s going to be a sophomore next year. He played second half of the year on varsity [baseball]. He had a really good year. He’s doing his thing, and will have football in the fall. He’s excited and ready to go.

“Our whole family’s doing well. We all miss Terre Haute, but it’s a great opportunity for all of us out there.”

While Meggs is pleased to be back in Terre Haute for the time being, he’ll soon be returning to Washington when the Rex season is over on Aug. 7 — or a few days beyond if they make a postseason run.

“It’s a great school, great opportunity,” Meggs said of his new school. “I’m excited to be able to play next year. It will be fun.”

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