The San Jose State baseball season was due to open in February. 27. Instead, it was the day pitcher Sean Prozell was cleared to play.
Prozell said he was one of 12 Spartans who tested positive for COVID-19 in January, forcing San Jose State to cancel the first month of the season. The formerly outstanding Carlmont and College of San Mateo was cleared to play February. 27 when the Spartans, instead of the season opener, could return to practice for the first time since the positive tests were announced.
“We are very happy that we got it all now, instead of the middle of the season … because in that case we would have just had it canceled all season,” said Prozell.
The Spartans are now ready to open the season on Saturday at the ballpark, formerly known as Municipal Field, Excite Ballpark, with a double top against San Diego State. Prozell said he expects to turn off relief at some point on Saturday, and hopes to work his way into my starting rotation in the middle.
“It’s been a minute for San Jose State to play this year,” Prozell said. “So it’s going to be great to get back out there.”
Prozell first realized that he might have received COVID when he began to lose his sense of taste and smell. When he tested positive, he was quarantined and lived alone in a hotel room for 13 days.
“I had the worst effects of not being able to taste and smell, but everything else was fine,” Prozell said. “I had no flu like systems or anything, so I’m doing well.”
When he quarantined, Prozell underwent several additional tests as part of his athletic physical examination, including an electrocardiogram and an ultrasound of the heart.
“After 10 or 13 days, I came out of the hotel and took a week to be cleaned, and from there I just hit the ground,” Prozell said.
Some progress would be welcome to Prozell, who struck out just four games last year before the season closed. In his first year at San Jose State as a transfer junior out of CSM, his right-hander was 1-1 with an inflated ERA, while earning his first Division I victory Feb. 29 with six solid innings against Utah Valley State.
Prozell is still carrying the same swagger on the pile he always has. The right hand is still dirty with a ball with a chip-on-this-shoulder edge. The big difference between his game now, from his years at Carlmont and CSM, is that he now pitches exclusively. Until his second year at CSM in 2019, he was long honored as a legitimate two-way threat, and chopped a career .309 stroke average with the Bulldogs.
“In junior college, it was a gate,” Prozell said. “I had to do a lot of extra work to be two-way, many extra hours of practice, always coming home late … and I thought pitching could get me the farthest, and I wanted to focus on that for the rest of my career. “
Prozell’s right arm certainly plays. He was one of the standouts for CSM’s pitching staff in 2019, and that really says something. The Bulldogs threw an ERA of 3.83, with a majority of pitchers now appearing in four years: Jamie Kruger, Westmont College; Nico Zeglin, Gonzaga University; Brett Karalius, Rogers State; Austin Moberg, San Francisco State; and Zach Button and Carlo Lopiccolo, Cal Poly.
However, Prozell won two legs at the Coast Golden Gate Conference with a triple crown with eight wins and a 2.54 ERA. His 74 strike ranked second to Kruger’s conference-leading 80.
On the way into 2021, Prozell said that the ball comes out of the hand very nicely.
“Perfect,” said Prozell. “I just need some time, get a few rounds, see how I feel against live hitters, but so far so good.”
It took Prozell a couple of games to get the cracks out in San Jose State. Makes his Spartans debut Feb. 16. 2020 at Santa Clara he was affected for four races in three rounds. But he left the butterflies behind, he said, and got on track two weeks later, trading in the Utah Valley, allowing one run of five hits through six innings while hitting eight.
The 6-1 right-hander wants to take up this weekend where he left off.
“I think it’s going to be normal,” Prozell said. “I will keep my confidence as always and take advantage of my opportunity. But I definitely think there’s going to be some unrest from not being out there that long. “