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Justin Nicolino

Lansing Lugnuts- Class A Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays

Position: LHP  Height: 6'3" Weight: 160lbs  Born: 11/22/1991 Hometown: Orlando, FL

Baseball Life 365: Tell us about your first memories of baseball and your first ball and glove. How old were you when you started playing organized baseball?

Justin Nicolino: I just remember after the very first practice I went to I told my parents all I ever wanted to do was play baseball. The crazy thing is one of my first gloves was a catcher mitt. Actually, I started a little later than everyone and that was at the age of 7.

BL365: Did you have a favorite MLB team and MLB player growing up?

JN: I didn’t really have a favorite team or player growing up, I was that kid that liked different players on every team.

BL365: Have you always been a pitcher or have you also played other positions?

JN: Since I’ve picked up a baseball I’ve always been a pitcher, but also played every position when I was younger. But once I got to high school I knew the only way my career would go on was just pitching.

BL365: Do you still retain a friendship with Dante Bichette Jr. and do you ever get the chance to work out together during down time?

JN: Of course, and its kind of hard since I live in Clearwater in the offseason, but we had talked a little about it this spring training and who knows maybe this offseason we will.

BL365: You were drafted by the Jays in the 2nd round of the 2010 First Year Player Draft. Can you describe for us that day and when you got the call, what you were doing, and how you felt?

JN: That day I woke up and didn’t want to think about the draft and stress about it, so I took my car into the shop to get fixed. Around lunch time my phone started ringing, it was an unknown number so this is when I started thinking that it was going happen and sure enough it was the Blue Jays calling saying they wanted to take me. After the phone call, I went into every emotion you could think of, and my family members were calling me before I could even get the news out.

BL365: What would you say was your proudest baseball accomplishment during your years at University High School in Orlando?

JN: Pitching in the District Championship game and finally winning it after two straight years of losing that game.

BL365: Prior to the draft, you were committed to the University of Virginia. Do you still feel that you made the right decision to forgo college?

JN: I do not regret my decision one bit. I felt that I was ready for professional baseball after high school and I haven’t looked back since.

BL365: Where do you draw your motivation and inspiration? Is there any current MLB player that is a big influence or whose pitching style you most admire?

JN: I think where my motivation and inspiration come from is my parents as cliché as that sounds, but when I think about it, it was always my parents pushing me and telling me to be the best I can be and its still carried with me now. Cliff Lee is my favorite pitcher to watch. He competes and gives it everything he has that night to help give the team a chance to win, he’s a competitor and a bulldog out on the mound.

BL365: Do you have any particular life verse, motto or quote that you live by?

JN: ”By seeing the seed of failure in every success, we remain humble By seeing the seed of success in every failure we remain hopeful.”

BL365: I have heard you have an awesome cap collection. How many in counting now and which one is your favorite?

JN: To be honest with you I have no idea how many I have. I just remember my mom always yelling at me for having to many hats.

BL365: What do you pack in your arsenal of pitches? What pitch are you currently working on perfecting? What is your go to pitch?

JN: 4-seam fastball, 2-seam, change-up, curveball and a slider. Curveball is my pitch that I’m trying to perfect everyday. I also just added a slider into my arsenal, so I’m also working on perfecting that as well.


BL365: You have had quite a successful rise through the Minor Leagues and received quite a few awards and honors with the most recent being a selection to the Midwest League Eastern Division All-Star Team. Tell us about that experience and what are your goals for the second half of this season?

JN: All-Star game was an unbelievable experience, got to meet other great players around the league and basically to have a couple days of unreal baseball and unreal talent, hopefully more to come. Goals for the second have for me would be to finish this year strong and stay consistent, also the obvious to win a championship with these guys.

BL365: Give us an idea about a typical day in the life of a Minor Leaguer.

JN: For me wake up, eat breakfast, hang out at the house for a little bit, then go grab some lunch before heading to the field. Depending on the day get a lift in before we go out and stretch and throw. go through batting practice and come in and crush some spread. Then I either got to chart or get to sit in the dugout for the game, and basically just repeat this everyday.

BL365: What do you like most about Lansing and what do you miss most about Florida?

JN: Lansing is a great atmosphere and college town being right next to Michigan State. Also, being in the state capital is pretty neat. Definitely miss getting to be with my parents and around my friends in Florida, but that’s what the offseason is for. Also, I miss playing all over Florida.

BL365: What is the most recent movie you have seen and did you like it?

JN: The last movie I watched was step brothers, its a classic and who doesn't like watching Will Ferrell, always a good laugh.



BL365: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

JN: I guess I could say yes and no, when its my day to pitch there are certain things I have to do before the game, I have to put my uniform on the same way every time, have to listen to a certain playlist, and get stretched at a certain time.

BL365: If you could be any super-hero, who would it be and why?

JN: Superman, he can fly and has super strength, now who in the world wouldn’t want those two super powers.

BL365: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

JN: I see myself doing the same thing I’m doing now playing the game that I’ve always wanted to but hopefully its in the big leagues and also maybe opening up a sports store somewhere in Florida.

BL365: How do you want to be remembered; what do you want your legacy to be?

JN: I want to be remembered as the guy when someone brings my name up and they say I remember him such a good player but an even better person. I want my legacy to be that I walked away from the game of baseball giving it everything I had in me.

Interview and Feature by Victoria Vesce, @VictoriaVesce

Follow Justin on Twitter!

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Justin Nicolino. Already that name is etched in history as this amazingly humble but extremely confident young man stakes his place on the mound and is poised for Blue Jay history. Not often do you find such a player/pitcher drafted straight from high school present such consistency in delivery on a daily basis. Oh, and did I mention…. he’s a Southpaw! Justin’s curveball is masterful, his fastball is flaming and his change up keeps batters totally off balance by mixing in both sides of the plate and possessing the finesse to throw it in any count. This is evidenced thus far with a 7-2 record, 2.52 ERA and 90 Strikeouts in 89.1 innings pitched. This is one pitcher who never makes excuses, only adjustments when need be.  This Baby Jay has grown some impressive wings and I’m sure his flight to the Majors is going to be a speedy one! 

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