J.J. FURMANIAK - HITTING/FIELDING INSTRUCTOR
- Played professionally for the past 10 seasons
- Made Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 13, 2005.
- Also reached the Majors with the Oakland Athletics
- Drafted in the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres
- 3-Time Minor League All-Star (2000,2003,2005)
- Played in Japan for the Yokohama Baystars in 2008
- Spent the 2009 season in the Philadelphia Phillies Organization
- Spent 3 years as private instructor at Bulls/Sox Academy
- Worked multiple youth camps in the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics Organizations
- Worked Youth Camps while playing in Japan
- Spent 3 years teaching young players at Lewis University Camps
JJ has taken the road less traveled on his way to the major leagues. He serves as a great inspiration to all local baseball players dreaming of playing in the major leagues. JJ prepped at Bolingbrook High School, a place normally associated more with high school football talent than baseball talent. Upon completion of his high school career, he then attended Lewis University, a Division II college on a baseball scholarship. Once again, JJ attended a school known something more than baseball as Lewis is more known for its academics. However; JJ continued to beat the odds through his exceptional work ethic and played well enough at Lewis to be noticed by the San Diego Padres, who drafted him in the 22nd round of the 2000 amateur draft.
Furmaniak quickly stripped away any doubts about his ability to compete against Division I collegiate athletes in his first professional season, when he hit a blistering .343 with five homers and 10 stolen bases in 62 games for the Padres’ Pioneer League affiliate. He was named a Pioneer League All-Star that season for his efforts. According to Furmaniak, playing Division II baseball helped him prepare to be a professional. “I think it did a lot to help me work ethic -wise. I knew that I was being viewed as a longshot, so I had to work extra hard to stand-out. Once you begin to realize that you are as good or better than a lot of guys who played at Division I schools, the difference doesn’t seem to matter anymore,” Furmaniak said. Furmaniak began rising through20the ranks of the Padres’ system, posting another All-Star season in 2003 (his .314 batting average in 78 games in High-A before being promoted to AA earned him a California League All-Star nod) and reaching AAA by 2004. That season, Furmaniak hit .294 with 17 homers and 73 RBI in 120 games for the AAA-Portland Beavers. Those numbers put Furmaniak in the discussion as one of the Padres better shortstop prospects. Those numbers also set-up Furmaniak for the most tumultuous season of his career: 2005. After establishing himself as a promising prospect, Furmaniak had gone from being a relative unknown to someone that other teams asked about when calling to make a trades with the Padres Organization. When Padres starting catcher Ramon Hernandez was knocked out with a knee injury after a misadventure trying to block home-plate, San Diego was desperate to acquire an everyday catcher to replace Hernandez. They decided on David Ross, who was playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time and the Pirates negotiated Furmaniak in return. Suddenly, the hard working infielder was traded away from the only organization he had ever played.
The trade did open up an opportunity for Furmaniak that he may not have had in San Diego, a chance to play in the big leagues in 2005. Furmaniak was a September call-up for the Pirates that season, and he got a respectible amount of playing time that month for th e Bucs. He appeared in 13 games for Pittsburgh, collecting five hits in 26 at- bats and driving-in a run. He also walked four times. For Furmaniak, playing in the big leagues was the culmination of a dream that some likely thought was a stretch when he was playing high school and collegiate baseball.
The 2006 season wasn’t as kind to Furmaniak. He spent the entire year at AAA-Indianapolis and had the worst offensive season of his career, hitting only .213 with six homers in 371 at-bats. He also missed time with a strained oblique muscle, although he insists that the injury is not an excuse for his poor season. Instead, he points to some adjustments he made to his swing and to his offensive approach that he feels threw him off of his game. Despite those poor 2006 numbers, the Oakland A’s still liked what they saw in Furmaniak’s game. In addition to having some homerun power (Furmaniak hit 18 and 14 homers in AAA in 2004 and 2005, respectively), he is a solid defensive player who is capable of handling third, short and second. Based on his past exploits, the A’s looked past his 2006 struggles and wasted no time this off-season pursuing the minor league free agent. That recruiting effort=2 0was rewarded when Furmaniak chose to sign with Oakland over several other teams that were interested in him. JJ spent time with the major league team in Oakland during the 2007 season appearing in 16 games and getting 3 hits in 17 at bats. After the 2007 season, JJ left for a new opportunity overseas to play with the Yokohama BayStars of the powerful Japanese Central League. Missing US soil, JJ returned home to play this past season for the Philadelphia's AAA team (Lehigh Valley Ironpigs) where he appeared in 118 games, hit 5 home runs and drove in 48 runs.