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The 'right' thing for Lakes' Snelten: signing with Gophers
By Joe Aguilar | Daily Herald Staff

D.J. Snelten


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Published: 11/10/2009 10:31 PM

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D.J. Snelten plans to pen a national letter of intent today to pitch for the University of Minnesota baseball team.

The big left-hander will sign with his right hand.

"Actually," Snelten said, "(writing) might be the only thing I do righty."

With his left hand, he does pitching well.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder will become Lakes' first baseball player in its five-year history to sign with a Division I school.

He takes as much pride in that honor as he does being able to throw, by his count, four pitches for strikes. Snelten's repertoire includes a fastball, curve, slider and changeup.

"My changeup is probably my best pitch," Snelten said. "I've worked on that pitch a lot. When I get in trouble, it seems to work out."

Snelten helped Lakes win the North Suburban Prairie Division championship last spring. He struck out more than 80 batters in 50 innings, posting a 5-3 record and an ERA under 3.00.

He got getter over the summer and fall, with his fastball touching 90 mph on the radar gun. He became the first pitcher in the history of the successful Kenosha Indians travel team to pitch the entire summer/fall session (361/3 innings) without allowing an earned run.

Snelten fired a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts against the Norwood Blues at Augustana College in September.

"For as much success as he's had, he has a lot more potential," Lakes coach Bill Rosencrans said. "He did pretty well last summer (for the high school team). He was unhittable at times. He was throwing a lot harder. He was about 82, 83, 84 (mph) in the spring."

Snelten's dad, Don, is a certified pitching instructor and has worked a lot with his youngest son to help make him into the pitcher he is today.

"I don't think anything would have taken off if not for him," D.J. said.

"He and his dad do a great job working together," Rosencrans said. "(D.J.) works out a lot. It's not a mistake that he's as good as he is."

Snelten, whose brother, John (6-4), pitched for Antioch and then Valparaiso, said he chose Minnesota over Evansville, among other schools. Minnesota coach John Anderson recorded his 1,000th career win last season and led the Golden Gophers to a 40-19 record. They finished the season ranked 21st in the country.

"I was trying to figure out which school would be in my comfort zone," Snelten said. "Was I going to feel more comfortable in a small, private school area? Or was I going to feel more comfortable in a bigger school area? I went to Minnesota and I went to Evansville, and compared them. I just realized that Minnesota was a lot better for me."

At Minnesota, Snelten wants to study secondary education.

"I've always been good with helping kids, teaching them," Snelten said. "I grew up in a neighborhood where there were only little kids and they looked up to me. I liked helping them out."