Black Bears, Local Sports, Sports

Black Bears’ converted outfielder Jeff Liquori hopes strong 1st half will lead to opportunities in the draft

MORGANTOWN —  West Virginia Black Bears outfielder Jeff Liquori was previously a pitcher for Florida Southern College and made the switch to hitting just three years ago. 

Liquori, from Lake Mary, Fla., played his senior season with Florida International University this spring, he is working on having another year of eligibility but currently has none left. 

During his time as a pitcher he did well but struggled in some areas.

“I was good on the mound, I just couldn’t find the zone,” Liquori admitted.

Liquori realized pitching was not his strongest point and one day during the 2020 COVID season, his coach got him to step into the batters’ box and give hitting a shot. 

“My coach asked if I wanted to hit, and that was the start of my college (hitting) career,” Liquori said. 

After three seasons at Florida Southern, Liquori transferred to Florida International this past year and hit .297 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 57 games this spring. 

Through 21 games with the Black Bears this summer, Liquori has a.293 batting average with a team-high eight doubles, three home runs and 20 RBI.

“He’s done a fantastic job,” West Virginia manager David Carpenter said. “He’s been really receptive to instruction from the coaching staff, he comes to work every day.” 

Liquori currently leads the MLB Draft League in doubles and also ranks third in home runs, second in RBI and fourth in slugging percentage (.500).

With only a handful of games left in the first half of the season, Liquori is hoping to get drafted later this month. 

“I’ve told the guys, we have nine games left in the first half and we have to really focus during batting,” Carpenter said. “Know which pitch we can hit and know what pitch we need to lay off of and hunt the pitch we want to get.”

If Liquori does not get drafted he plans to come back for the second half of the Black Bears’ season for another chance to sign with a professional team.

“This league means a lot, hopefully, I get a shot (at being drafted),” Liquori said. “If I don’t, I’ll be back for the second half of the season.”

The Black Bears will play away tonight at 4 p.m. against the Trenton Thunder.