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Franklin Regional grad succeeds at Coastal Carolina, 'drastic' stance and all

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics
Coastal Carolina outfielder Alex Buccilli gets into his stance during a game during the 2013 season.
Photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics
Coastal Carolina outfielder Alex Buccilli bats during the 2013 season.

One of the most unique batting routines in the NCAA was born simply because a batter needed a routine.

Coastal Carolina outfielder Alex Buccilli said in all his years of baseball, he never developed a consistent routine at the plate, instead choosing to imitate several different Major League Baseball players.

“Every at-bat was different,” said Buccilli, a 2008 Franklin Regional graduate. “If I had a hit doing one thing, I'd stick with it. It just wasn't consistent. It's just not what you'd want out of a hitter.”

Before his junior season at Coastal Carolina, Buccilli decided to devise his own consistent routine, reportedly after having a conversation with a sports psychology consultant who spoke to Coastal Carolina players about the mental side of the game.

The result was an unorthodox pre-pitch routine that sees Buccilli sinking to a deep crouch, with his bat high over his head, before shifting to a more conventional open stance.

The batting stance generated plenty of conversation. A YouTube video titled “Coastal Carolina Batting Stance Guy” has more than 1 million views, and baseball analysis website FanGraphs wrote a piece calling it “the greatest batting stance in the NCAA.”

For his part, Buccilli said he needed to think of something “drastic” in order to remember it every time he came to the plate. He said the stance helps him forget previous pitches and at-bats and focus instead on the upcoming pitch.

“It's not for show, even though it looks like it is,” he said. “It just helps me mentally prepare for the pitch that's coming.”

The stance certainly didn't hamper Buccilli's success at Coastal Carolina the past two seasons. After hitting .313 with three home runs and 43 runs batted in as a junior, Buccilli followed that up with a .274 average, one home run and 27 RBIs as a senior this season.

Coastal Carolina advanced to the NCAA Regionals in both seasons, falling short of the College World Series.

Buccilli said he didn't have the type of senior season he was looking for, however. After being named second-team All-Big South as a junior, Buccilli competed in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League last summer and was named an All-Star after batting .344 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.

As one of Coastal Carolina's key returnees, Buccilli said he got off to a slow start this season.

“A lot of pressure fell on me with the draft and helping the team win,” he said. “That kind of got the best of me, and I had a slow start. I kind of picked it up during league play a little bit, but I just didn't really put the season together I was hoping for and my teammates were hoping for. That kind of hurt the team, but in the end, it's a team game — it's not about me.

“Obviously, you always want to do better. I would love to take it back and do better, but it is what it is and hopefully from here on I can do better.”

The team also got off to a slow start, beginning the season 7-10 before going 30-13 down the stretch. The Chanticleers lost to Liberty in the Big South Championship and were eliminated by Virginia Tech in the NCAA Regionals.

“Me and two other seniors had experience going in (to the NCAA Regionals), but that's all new to those (other) guys,” Buccilli said.

“That's a big stage. You've got sold-out crowds, and every pitch matters. That's something where experience kind of steps in and being a senior leader has a huge effect in what the team does.”

Like his batting stance, Buccilli's path to Coastal Carolina was also somehwat unorthodox.

After graduating from Franklin Regional, Buccilli went to Frederick Community College in Maryland for two seasons before signing with the University of Oregon in 2010.

He spent the fall 2010 semester at Oregon before transferring to Coastal Carolina. He sat out the 2011 season before playing the past two seasons.

“I kind of got lucky when I asked for my release from Oregon,” Buccilli said. “I emailed all the schools I had talked to (in 2010), and for some reason I just put Coastal Carolina in there. I always liked them out of high school, and they were one of the first teams that contacted me back.”

Buccilli finished with a combined .294 batting average and .420 on-base percentage in 116 career games at Coastal Carolina, including 104 starts.

Having finished his career at Coastal Carolina, Buccilli is hoping to catch on with a professional baseball team. He wasn't selected during the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, which he called “disappointing,” but he hopes to catch on with a team as a free agent.

“I've talked to a couple teams, and hopefully I get picked up as a free agent somewhere,” he said. “I'm also exploring my options with independent ball. But everything's day-to-day.”

After his success in the Cal Ripken League, as well as at the NCAA Division I level, Buccilli said scouts are familiar with his baseball ability. However, he will have to battle concerns about his 5-foot-8 stature.

Buccilli said he'd dealt with such concerns over his size for most of his career and said he plays differently than most players his size.

“You see those small guys who are really, really fast and can slap the ball (and) steal bases,” Buccilli said. “I have average speed, (and) I show some power. I'm not really projectable, but if you can hit, they'll find you a place to play.”

Once his playing career is over, Buccilli hopes to get into coaching at the college level.

“Ultimately, that's what I want to do,” he said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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