Q&A with Missouri State Commit Dakota Kotowski

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

Recently 2018 OF Dakota Kotowski (Providence Catholic) committed to Missouri State. Kotowski is currently ranked No. 11 in the Illinois Class of 2018 and this past summer represented Illinois at the PBR Future Games in Indiana. Here is a report on him from the event.

Dakota KotowskiFuture Games 2016 - 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-handed hitting outfielder, physical build with proportional strength. Possesses big right-handed power at the plate. Strong hands, generates advanced bat speed with lift in swing. Aggressive approach, swings with intent to do damage yet maintains balance; recorded one of the top exit velocities at the Future Games at 100 mph. Has potential to develop into high-level power hitter at the next level. Defensively, corner type, likely left fielder or first baseman; shows arm strength, clocked at 89 mph. Also ran a 7.30 laser-timed 60.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Kotowski: The recruiting process started a little earlier than I had anticipated.  I thought that I would begin thinking about it during my junior year of high school.  Instead, I committed before my junior season. The timing was slightly challenging for my family and I, as we were trying to survive my 16u travel season, and then had to work in college visits.  I had a hard time with the recruitment process, as I felt fortunate to have received some great offers from some amazing schools.  I liked different things about each school and really started connecting to some great coaches.  I felt like each school and coach taught me different things about myself as an athlete and a student. Ultimately, I felt that Missouri State felt like the right school for me.  The area was beautiful; they have an awesome baseball program that I feel is a fit to further develop as a player.  Although it was earlier than anticipated, I felt like the time was right to commit, I didn’t want to drag it out.    

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Kotowski: I was looking to be part of a consistent, strong, culture where I felt I belonged, academically, athletically and personally. MSU offers all that to me.  They have the Construction Management degree that I am interested in, as well as a baseball program that recognizes my strengths and character. I know that if I continue to work hard and push myself, I will have the opportunity to earn playing time as a freshman.  I was  fortunate to meet many of the players, past and present during my visit.  For me, the players sold the university and program.  I could feel it right away.  They were all an integral part of the pack. They work hard together and have an unmatched respect for each other, the coaches and the program. 

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Kotowski: Initially the distance played a huge factor.  Missouri State was the last school I visited.  I am the oldest of 4 kids and my parents had a radius they wanted me to stay with in, because they really wanted to be able to watch me play.  I have 3 younger sisters and they have all literally grown up at my games, with my teams.  It has become their way of life, just as much as it has been mine.  They often ride out of the parks on my bags or on my back, and I know that they will be at as many games as possible.  Location initially played a part, but in the end, it was about “fit.”

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Kotowski: The recruiting process really started quickly last summer.  Honestly, I wasn’t really prepared.  I felt I had a great summer and came out strong.  The Under Armour Classic at IMG Academy in Florida this summer really got it going.  I had gotten bigger and stronger, and was seeing the ball well and felt very connected.  I think that helped me with my confidence and carried me through the summer. I ended the summer at the  PBR Future Games, which also was a big event, with a lot of colleges.  It was an intense summer between heat and travel. 

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Kotowski: I think the first time Missouri State saw me was in Nashville.  I spoke with them a few times and didn’t get down to visit them until this last month.  I really wasn’t looking to commit this early, and wanted to try to be patient.  My family and I had some questions and once those were answered, I just knew.  MSU’s vision and goals aligned with what I have been dreaming about since a young kid watching college baseball on TV.  During my visit in December, it just felt like home.  The hitting style is very similar to my style and I felt like I could jump in practice tomorrow.  They have a winning program with proven results.  They play in a top conference and continue to win. 

PBR: What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Kotowski:  The thing I liked most about Missouri State was that I instantly could see myself playing there. I felt like I was aligned with the style of baseball they play and their approach to hitting development.  Other factors was my level of comfortability just walking around the campus and their history of academic and athletic development.  Missouri State had many of their players and alumni on site during my visit, I felt like they welcomed me and were excited about possibly adding me to their pack.   

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Kotowski: St. Louis University, Illinois State, and Xavier.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Kotowski: I have always known that I wanted to play college baseball, and wasn’t sure what level.  This last summer, probably as early as the Under Armour Classic in Florida, was when I realized I could hang with top caliber athletes from around the country.  It was some of the best baseball I have ever seen, or played.  I had great success and my confidence improved. The summer continued on for me and I realized that I could be a Division 1 baseball player.  I try not to compare myself to other players, but just work hard at improving myself and being a good teammate. 

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Kotowski: Simple…Love and respect the game, and work hard.  The game knows what you do and don’t do, so never cheat and always work hard.  Work harder than everyone else.  Work on your swing all winter long, never stop.  Practice harder than anyone else and always stay focused on your goal.  Always be the best teammate you can be, your success depends on theirs.  Also, take care of your body all year long, keep it sustainable, stretch, focus on nutrition and hydration, especially in the warm months. 

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Kotowski: I don’t really have a specific moment. I think I most value and will remember my friends, coaches, and influences,  that have helped me on my baseball journey.  My recent commitment to Missouri State is the most memorable event right now.  Playing Division I baseball has been my dream since I was a kid.  I now know that I have made those dreams come true and it makes me feel accomplished. 

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Kotowski: I am beyond fortunate to attend Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Coach Smith just won his 3rd  consecutive State Championship and always gets the very best  out of each one of his players.  I am looking forward to playing for him and with our seniors. Providence made history last year when they won three state titles in a row and even though we have graduated some incredible players, we are going to do great things this year and go after a 4th state title.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Kotowski: I play travel baseball with Top Tier.  My most memorable experience was this last summer, my 16u summer travel.  I learned so much from coaches Griffin Phelps and Coach Isaacson, both about baseball and about myself.  They have pushed me and showed me my full potential. My teammates were incredible guys and baseball players.  We really pushed each other to bring the best out in each other.  Top Tier is a class act organization and is the best decision I have ever had to make.  I would strongly recommend Top Tier to any young baseball players who wish to develop themselves and push themselves to live their dream of playing baseball at the highest level possible. 

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