Against the Odds: Joe La Sorsa's Unconventional Journey from Overlooked Prospect to Professional Baseball Success

Against the Odds: Joe La Sorsa's Unconventional Journey from Overlooked Prospect to Professional Baseball Success

The Unlikely Rise of a Baseball Star

If you're a passionate baseball fan, you might've heard the name Joe La Sorsa, especially after his recent impressive achievements at the World Baseball Classic (WBC), especially after that wild game against the Dutch team.

However, that wasn't always the case, as Joe mentions himself.

In high school, he was definitely a skilled player. Yet, Joe didn't fit the typical profile scouts look for.

"He doesn't have the velocity we need." "He's lacking the physical qualities of a pro player."

These were just a couple of words scouts used to describe Joe.

Was he about to give up?

Absolutely not! Joe took matters into his own hands.

Motivated by his aspiration to achieve greater success, he bravely faced the obstacles that came his way, gradually progressing until the present day.

Joe's story is a testament to his perseverance and winning mindset, both of which are essential to excel in professional sports.

Joe La Sorsa with his parents re game (2019)

The Journey Begins

Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 19th round of the 2019 MLB draft, Joe kickstarted his professional career with the Hudson Valley Renegades.

His determination and skill soon led him to the international stage, where he represented the Italian national baseball team in the 2023 WBC.

That year, Joe also progressed to the Triple-A Durham Bulls, where he made a significant impact in his nine appearances with a 3.86 earned run average.

But his journey was filled with lots of challenges and priceless lessons.

Embracing the Underdog Mentality

Embarking on his journey as a recruited walk-on at St.John's, Joe faced an uphill battle among top recruits and professional-caliber players.

Despite his lower velocity (85-88 mph), he remained focused on his goal.

Joe wasn't discouraged by the prospects of redshirting or being a reserve player.

Instead, he adopted an underdog mentality, obsessively focused on playing college baseball to the best of his ability at that moment rather than getting distracted by future prospects like the draft.

The result? Joe became an All-American and achieved all-conference recognition.

“We often shy away from obsessions because they've been villainized or we think they're wrong for us to have. But if you look up and down anybody, no matter the profession and you try to find those who are massively successful, they are obsessed with being successful and obsessed with accomplishing whatever that highest route might be. And they build another mountain when they find the top of the current mountain that they're on.”

New Heights, New Challenges

A higher level of playing meant that performance was the key metric and college prestige no longer mattered.

Moreover, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic meant the extension of the off-season, the cancellation of opportunities like winter ball in Australia, and the uncertainty about his career path.

Despite that, Joe remained resilient and determined to succeed in his dream career as a professional baseball player.

“Going into the off-season, I definitely was very hungry because I knew I had a lot of work to do because I wanted to get out of AA cause I remember as hard as it was to and as stressful as it was for me to even talk about or to think about or be in that time period.”

Rising Through the Ranks

What else could've happened to make things worse?

How about suffering from an arm injury that left Joe sidelined?

He used this time to his advantage by focusing on physical training and improving his nutrition.

Joe gained significant weight and strength, which helped him increase his pitching velocity.

Unfortunately, this came at a cost; his pitching style completely changed, leading to a disappointing season.

Despite his best efforts, Joe Struggled to perform at his usual level and ended up having one of the worst seasons of his career.

But things changed after this incredible moment that represented the culmination of his hard work and dedication.

"You Know, This Kid's Pretty Good"

From Double-A to Triple-A, Joe's career experienced massive growth.

Could he finally take a rest and enjoy it?

Of course not.

Remember? New league, new challenges.

As Joe puts it, "You can never rest on your laurels because no matter how confident you think you are, how hard you work or anything or how good you are, someone is always going to be out there hungry than you, more motivated than you, wanting it more than you."

Everyone wants to reach the big leagues, and Joe's words set to all of us a reminder to continuously strive for improvement, no matter the level of success achieved.

Joe La Sorsa at Washington Nationals Spring Training '24 (photo Amanda Bowen)

From a barely recruited high school player to a professional baseball pitcher, Joe La Sorsa's journey is an example of resilience, adaptability, and unwavering passion that motivates and inspires.

If you want to learn more about every step of Joe's journey, listen to the full episode of VeloUnlocked w/ Dr. Nick Serio.