Vojtech Mensik, from the College World Series to the WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup

Vojtech Mensik, from the College World Series to the WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup
28/09/2021
The 23-year old star of the Czech National Team just signed a professional contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The WBSC had a chance to talk to him in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, during the third U-23 Baseball World Cup.

Vojtech Mensik turned 23 in May. The Brno, Czech Republic, native was the starting third baseman of North Carolina State University. He started all the games in the 2021 season: 50 at third base, five at shortstop and one at first base. This included a trip to the College World Series.

The WBSC had a chance to talk to Mensik after the game the Czech Republic lost against the Dominican Republic at the U-23 Baseball World Cup.

"The College World Series were a great experience," said Mensik. "It's where every NCAA team wants to finish the season. We weren't off a good start, but we got hot at the right moment. Everybody saw us only as a strong hitting team, but our pitching staff got together at the right time. We came close to advance to the games for the title."

Mensik started four games at shortstop and one at third base for the Czech Republic in Group A of the U-23 Baseball World Cup. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the opening game and helped the Czech Republic shock the hosts and defending U-23 World Champions Mexico.

Overall, Mensik is 4-for-16 (.250 batting average), with a double and two RBIs. His numbers are well above the team's standard in the tournament, which is .108. Mensik got 36% of the Czech Republic's hits. He also didn't commit an error in 13 playing opportunities.

After beating Mexico, 5-1, the Czechs believed they had a shot at a historic super round placement. They then lost back-to-back games against Chinese Taipei, 4-1, and Germany, 6-4.

"The game against Germany was a tough loss. There was an inning that cost us the game. There was an error…it's unfortunate. We had the game in our hands. We thought we were better, but they got us…what can I say, it was tough."

Mensik's memory is crystal clear. With the bases empty and one out, Germany reached thanks to an infield error. The next batter struck out and would have been the third out. Germany scored four times before the at-bat ended.

"Baseball in Europe is good. Our pitchers lack some velocity, so when European players compete at this level, they struggle to adjust to the different levels of pitching. But it's good baseball."

Not good enough for young Vojtech, who wanted to play at a higher level.

"My brother played baseball, so I started playing at six. I needed a hobby, and baseball looked like a natural solution to me. While in high school, I was given the chance to visit Mike Griffin's Academy in North Carolina."

Griffin was the manager of the Czech National Team. A former collegiate player himself, the Canadian born Griffin played in the Czech Republic and coached internationally for Major League Baseball.

"I played one month at his Academy," added Mensik. "The coach of North Carolina State saw me play and decided to offer me a scholarship."

It may be a challenge for a European kid to become a student/athlete in the US.
"It is a challenge. Even if you have a scholarship, you need financial support to live there. Furthermore, you are away from your family, friends, your loved ones. It is a challenge, but it's possible."

The next stop of Mensik's career will be California. He signed as an undrafted free agent for the Los Angeles Angels.

"I stayed with them 14 days, I believe. I will have to report to minor league Spring Training next season, and we will see where this takes me."

Do you see yourself as a shortstop or a third baseman?
"My natural position is shortstop. I've always liked it. Adjusting at third has been difficult, but now I'm comfortable at both positions. I feel better at shortstop. You have to cover more ground, and footwork is more important."

Defensive skills are the best talent Vojtech has.
"I've always seen myself as a defensive player. I worked hard on my hitting while playing college baseball, and I think I developed into a fairly good hitter. Still, my best tool is fielding. I would rate speed second."

The last thought is for his mentor.

"I'm sorry that Mike Griffin parted ways with the Czech Baseball Association," said Mensik on a final note. "I'm not sure why they made this decision because I believe Mike was the best possible fit for Czech baseball."