Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 15 No. 2 | October 2022

28 2023 INVESTMENT GUIDE handed pitcher out of Tunstall High School in Dry Fork, VA. Joe was drafted again after his junior season with the Hokies by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 28th round of the MLB Draft and once again opted to forgo signing a professional contract and returned to Blacksburg. After his senior season in 2013, he was drafted once again this time by the Detroit Tigers in the 27th round and signed a contract to begin his professional career. Joe made his big-league debut with the Tigers in 2016 and was named to his first major-league all-star team this season as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks! Chip Runyon–’02 (chip. was able to catch up with Joe recently to talk about his career and path to the major leagues as well as his time at VT; the Q&A follows! Q: You were a successful high school player being drafted in the 48th round by the New York Mets and signing with VT. How was it possible for a guy from Dry Fork, VA to get the exposure and notoriety to be put in a position to play baseball in the ACC and be drafted by a major league team? JM: I have to give a lot of credit to my parents for sacrificing a lot of time and money to take me all over the east coast playing in big tournaments like East Cobb and Jupiter. I think that’s where I got on professional teams’ radars. I think the coaches at Virginia Tech saw me pitch at the Commonwealth Games in Roanoke. Q: What made you ultimately choose to sign with the Hokies over other schools as well as a contract offer from the New York Mets? JM: I fell in love with Blacksburg the first time I ever visited there. I had been there a few times as a kid and grew up rooting for them. I loved the small town feel and it reminded me a lot of home. I also was all in on Coach Hughes, his staff, and what they had planned for the program. I was not ready for pro ball mentally or physically so going to school was definitely the right decision for me. Q: You came in and made an immediate impact in Blacksburg appearing in 22 games as a freshman for the Hokies…did that surprise you and what as the adjustment like from high school to major college baseball? JM: Yeah I would say I was a little surprised. It’s really tough to come into a division-one program and play as a true freshman. Everyone on the team was the best player in their area and the learning curve is definitely a big jump. I tried to embrace the challenge and earn my playing time. Q: You obviously have had a very successful professional career making it through the minor leagues in 3 years with the Tigers before returning to the big leagues with the NY Yankees and now as an all-star with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Professional baseball can be a grind as players try to move up through the ranks, what do you contribute to your success to be able to make it to the major leagues? JM: I just strive to get better every single day. I feel like I’ve always had that mentality going back to high school. Everyday there needs to be a plan and purpose for your work. I have always had a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities which I think stems from my preparation. There are very few things you can control in the game of baseball. Preparation and work ethic are necessities! Q: The VT Baseball program had a historic season last year, and the future looks bright in Blacksburg. Do you follow the program closely? What do you think the biggest change is from your time in Blacksburg and what do you think the future holds for the program? JM: I follow them the best I can! The social media staff does a great job of posting scores and updates. It was awesome to see the team have such a great year. I like what coach Szefc and his staff have going with recruiting and the facilities. The facilities are definitely the biggest change. The upgrades to the stadium definitely make it one of the nicest stadiums in the country. To me the sky is the limit for that program! Continued from page 27 WE’RE HERE FOR YOU ©2021 Martin Travel Agency, LLC 21_811751b C o n t a c t a M a r t i n T r a v e l A d v i s o r T o d a y Ma r t i nTr av e l . com | 540 - 343 - 5400 | I n f o@Ma r t i nTr av e l . com As you think about future vacations and trips, travel with someone you trust. As your source for all things travel, Martin Travel is here for you before, during, and after your trip.