GLENS FALLS — Nick Kondo may be the Glens Falls Dragons’ most dangerous player.
Blessed with a quick bat and quicker feet, he certainly knows how to make things happen at the plate and on the bases. Kondo is batting nearly .300 as the leadoff hitter with a team-high on-base percentage of .457, and his 18 stolen bases are second overall in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
“We really emphasize speed here and being aggressive, so I think that mentality has really helped me,” said Kondo, a former Saratoga Springs standout who is an incoming junior at the University at Albany. “The coaches have helped me with the approach and the mechanics — being more aggressive, knowing when to go, the little things like that.”
Kondo, the Dragons’ regular starting shortstop, was named on Monday to the PGCBL All-Star Game, along with pitchers Christian Allegretti and Julien Arcos.
With the Dragons in a midseason slump, Kondo came out of his own mini-slump with a 4-for-4 effort Sunday night, logging two drop-in singles, an RBI triple and a steaming double down the third-base line. He also scored twice and stole a pair of bases in the 5-3 win over Oneonta.
“Honestly, I felt off in BP, so I tried to make a few adjustments, just keep it simple really,” Kondo said before Monday night’s game against the Albany Dutchmen at East Field. “I was just going up there, staying in the flow of the game, having a good approach, and balls just happened to fall in.”
“He’s been squaring up balls all season,” Glens Falls head coach Cameron Curler said. “It was nice for him to get four hits (Sunday) night because he kind of cooled off a bit lately. But the good thing about Nick is, even when he’s not getting base hits, he’s making things happen, he’s getting on base. A guy like that deserves a four-hit game every once in a while.”
Compact at 5-foot-8, 155 pounds, Kondo really shines once he’s on base. More often than not, he’s off and running.
“I love him at leadoff because he gets on base so much and he puts so much pressure on the other team every time he’s on base, because you can just feel that he wants to run,” Curler said. “When he’s in scoring position, I’m confident that a batter’s going to get a ball up in the zone because the pitcher’s worried about whether or not he’s going to take third.”
“One thing I changed up was just looking at the pitcher as a whole,” said Kondo, a member of Saratoga’s Class AA state runner-up team in 2015. “It’s helped me a lot to prevent pickoffs and knowing when to go.”
When Curler was recruiting Kondo, he wasn’t put off by his .200 batting average at Albany. He saw something else he liked: a sure-handed fielder who played 42 games as a freshman for the Great Danes. Kondo started 47 of 48 games this past spring, primarily at second base.
“He didn’t have a very high batting average, but a guy who plays that much as a freshman, that told me that there were other things that he could do,” Curler said. “And those are the things that we’ve seen.”
Through the first half of the Dragons’ season, Kondo has a .299 average, 29 hits, 27 walks, 20 runs scored and 14 RBIs — and that all derives from his careful approach.
“Timing up the pitcher before is important when you’re coming up leadoff — staying smooth, see the ball and hit it,” he said. “Don’t overthink it. Just keep it simple.”
Kondo is one of four former Saratoga teammates on the Dragons’ roster — Brian Hart, Dan Coleman and Shane Barringer are the others.
“Being local is awesome, you get the best of both worlds being close to home,” Kondo said. “I was actually surprised about how competitive (the PGCBL) was. Being local, I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m really happy with the competitiveness. All the teams and players here are really good.”