Jul. 20—Playing college baseball at Florida State at Jacksonville, Garrett Chun was a late arrival to the Joplin Outlaws this summer because his team played in the JUCO World Series.
Chun didn't make his MINK League debut until June 13 when he went 2 for 4 with a solo home run to lift Joplin past the Jefferson City Renegades 11-9.
And Chun never stopped hitting from that point on.
The left-handed hitting outfielder took the league by storm, slashing .413/.489/.627 with two home runs and a team-high 32 RBI (10 more than Liam Bailey and Max Bruff in seven fewer games).
Chun, recovering from a broken hamate bone in his hand as a freshman, posted a .315 average with two long balls and 33 driven in after transferring to FSCJ for his sophomore season.
Chun previously played at St. Johns River State College.
"That injury made me hit the reset button mentally," Chun said. "I got confidence from my parents and they continued to work with me and continued to support me. I think that helped a lot.
"My sophomore, getting the opportunity at Jacksonville, was the best thing that ever happened to me. That allowed me to come into my own again. This spring and summer at Joplin, I've been myself again and it showed with my production."
With the Outlaws, Chun did it all, piling up 31 hits in just 21 games. He scored 17 runs, doubled eight times, tripled once and stole four bases.
Chun also was a tough out. He drew 13 walks and fanned only four times in 75 at-bats.
"The MINK League is good," Chun said. "You have some good arms that teams are rolling out everyday, so if you get behind in the count, it's hard to work back in plus counts. But for me, just being in plus counts and being aggressive against the straight stuff was key."
For Chun, playing summer ball in Joplin was a big commitment to make being from Florida. The reason is simple — he's a homebody who is all about family.
"Honestly I was really nervous," Chun said. "But the coaching staff was awesome and the city. The atmosphere we played in was the best I've ever played in. My teammates were great. You couldn't ask for a better set up for summer ball."
Chun closed out his career as an Outlaw exactly the way he started — by just hitting. He collected a hit and drove in two runs as Joplin upended the Carroll Merchants 10-7 Monday night.
After that game, Chun hopped in his car and emotions hit him like a ton of bricks.
"It was genuinely hard for me to get into the car (Monday) night and realize I had to go home," Chun said. "These guys became brothers that I can call any day."
But the Outlaws' overcame the loss of Chun by routing Carroll 13-3 Tuesday night. Chun knows Joplin is in good spirits as it is rolling with a division-leading record of 23-18 and nine-game win streak.
"I think he left the ability for our guys to play hard all the time," Outlaws manager Gonzalo Gonzalez said. "Garrett Chun never let up. To have him around, it still resonates within the clubhouse. Guys are still talking about the impact he had on them not only mentally, but emotionally."
"You know, I'm grateful I went out on a good streak," Chun said. "It sucks I'm not going to play with the guys down the stretch, but they will play hard, play for each other. Hopefully, we'll see them take home a championship."