Drafted By the Chicago White Sox, Hermosa’s JJ Muno Trains Hard for the Next Level

He’s off to the big leagues.

  • Category
    People
  • Written & Photographed by
    Kat Monk

When Jeremiah “JJ” Muno was growing up in the early 2000s, club baseball was not as prevalent in the Beach Cities as it is today. So he had to venture out. He played for a team from El Segundo called the Rage and another team from Torrance called the Kahunas. As his skills continued to develop, he set himself apart from other local players.

A four-year varsity starter for the Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School Knights, JJ received All-Mission League honors each year. According to JJ’s coach Tom Dill, JJ was the core of the team. “There are many kids who are great athletes, but it takes a special kind of kid to also have the mental toughness to be a four-year starter.”

JJ, a utility player, can play many positions including outfield, third base, second base and shortstop. He throws right-handed and bats left-handed. It was no surprise when Division 1 college programs started showing an interest in him. JJ decided to play for the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he redshirted his freshman year. He was named captain of the team—a position he held his final two years.

“Once spring training ends, you go to your full season and you play 142 games. You have maybe one or two off days a month. You are playing every day and traveling—staying in fleabag motels, eight-hour bus trips—it can weigh on your mind.”

In 2015—his junior year—the UCSB Gauchos set a program record for wins and made it to the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. That trip was the highlight of JJ’s college career. The Gauchos didn’t win the series, but they were on the road for 22 straight days. JJ remembers, “The bond I made with those guys is something I will have forever.”

In his senior year, JJ was ranked 29th in the country in Division 1 baseball’s positional power rankings for third basemen, according to UCSB’s website.

The day of the Major League Baseball draft in 2017, JJ tried to keep himself occupied and distracted while hanging with a few buddies at his apartment. “I knew I had a chance of getting drafted,” he shares. “Some of my teammates were getting drafted, so I looked at my phone to check. Next thing I knew my name popped up on the draft tracker, and it took off from there.“

JJ had been drafted by the Chicago White Sox. Getting drafted is just the beginning of a baseball player’s career. First comes rookie ball; then comes spring training in Arizona. After spring training you are assigned to a team.

“Once spring training ends, you go to your full season and you play 142 games. You have maybe one or two off days a month,” explains JJ. “You are playing every day and traveling—staying in fleabag motels, eight-hour bus trips—it can weigh on your mind.”

The White Sox have six minor league affiliates: the Charlotte Knights (AAA), Birmingham Barons (AA), Winston-Salem Dash (A+), Kannapolis Intimidators (A), Great Falls Voyagers (Rookie) and AZL White Sox (Rookie). Since being drafted by the organization, JJ has played for all of their affiliates except Charlotte. Now age 25, he is currently playing for the Dash in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

A typical day for JJ looks like this: He wakes up at 6 a.m. and heads to the field for a 6:30 a.m. start time. He has breakfast at the field around 7 a.m., lifts weights by 8 a.m., has hitting practice around 9:30 a.m. and field practice from 10 a.m. to noon. After lunch, the game starts at 1:30 p.m. and ends around 4:30 p.m. Next day: repeat. Next day: repeat.

During the season he gets to the field around 12:30 p.m., and games are 7 to 10 p.m. After going to the gym approximately five times a week, there is little time for much else.

JJ has played in 91 games in the minors so far with an on-base percentage of .359. He is excited to continue to climb that proverbial mountain to the “bigs.” According to JJ, “[Playing in the] big leagues is a dream, and making the big leagues would be a dream come true.”

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