Growing up in New York, Joe Van Meter used the opportunities given to him through travel ball on Long Island as a way of preparing for more competitive ball later on.
"[New York travel baseball] most definitely prepared me for college and pro ball because it is a blue-collar brand of baseball played back home in New York," Joe said. "Playing with wood bats in a good high school league helped me as well. Also, the privilege to play in tournaments around the country with one of the best travel ball teams in the nation, the East Coast Express, got me ready for the good competition I would in college and pro ball."
Van Meter was living the life every high school baseball star dreams of. After graduating from St. Dominic High School in 2006, Van Meter took his talents to NCAA powerhouse Arizona State. Things didn’t work out as planned at ASU, so Van Meter looked elsewhere.
"I transferred from ASU to Virginia Commonwealth University because I wanted a chance to play everyday,” Van Meter told Baseball Player Magazine. “My family had just moved 15 minutes from VCU, and all in all I would be in a better position to be drafted after my third year of playing.”
Joe got exactly what he wanted after his third year. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 21st round after posting an impressive season for the VCU Rams: .434 BA, 10 HR and 76 RBI. He finished his VCU career with a school-record 136 RBI.
“It was a great ride this year and all the accolades I received, but the one that I hold on a pedestal was winning the CAA championship with my teammates in Wilmington, NC and getting the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Van Meter said.
However, it wasn't his bat that caught the Rangers' interest.
“I have been blessed to have the versatility to help the teams I have played on with both with my bat and on the mound,” Joe said. “But with 162 games at the professional level, there aren't any two-way players. Going into the draft, scouts were interested more in my arm because they felt I project better on the mound. With 14 pitchers on a Major League roster, one guy at each position and maybe four backups, the odds are better and the decision seems right to be a full-time pitcher.
"It was certainly a tough decision to put my bat in the closet after coming off two strong seasons I just had at the plate in college, but I am willing to persevere to reach my dream of playing this game for a living in the big leagues.”
Joe said that the Rangers do have big plans for him at the Big League level. "Based on the feedback from the organization, the Rangers see me as a bullpen eighth/ninth inning guy. I don't mind this role because it gives me an opportunity get in the game every day and compete as I was when I was a position player.”
After being drafted, Joe played for the Hickory Crawdads, the Texas Rangers' Class-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League. For the Crawdads, Van Meter posted a 0.00 ERA in 2.1 innings, allowing two hits and striking out two.