Tag Archives: Interview

Interview with Chicago Cubs prospect Rock Shoulders

By: Andrew Martin

From Rouglas Odor to Razor Shines, baseball is littered with unique and interesting names. However, there are no current players with a cooler name than Rock Shoulders, a young slugging prospect in the Chicago Cubs’ system.
Roderick “Rock” Shoulders is a big lefty swinging and righty throwing first baseman, who was selected last year in the 25th round of the draft. He had previously been drafted by the Red Sox in 2010, but decided to pass on signing in favor of college. Although many expected he would be drafted higher last year, the Cubs believe they got a steal and reportedly signed him for third round money. After getting into just 8 games last year, Shoulders has just been assigned to short-season Boise in the Northwest League. It is hoped that that he will blossom into a top power hitting prospect under the tutelage of hitting coach Bill Buckner.
Prior to this season Shoulders took some time to chat about his time in baseball. Make sure to monitor his progress through the season and also give him a follow on Twitter @RockBigFly24

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?
My favorite team when I was growing up was the New York Yankees because my dad brought me up always watching their games. I don’t have just one favorite player, I actually have two. Ken Griffey, Jr. was my number one, and Barry Bonds was right there with him.

Why did you decide to not sign with Boston after the 2010 draft?
I just didn’t feel like the offer was right considering I had a full ride scholarship to the State College of Florida (SCF).

Can you describe what your 2011 draft experience was like?
The draft in 2011 was a little bit more laid back for me since I went through it the year before right out of high school. I also had a full ride scholarship to the University of South Florida (USF) after my one year at SCF.

What are your feelings to be part of a Chicago organization in major rebuilding mode with Theo Epstein?
I have really good feeling about Theo coming in because look what he did with Boston, and our organization has a lot of young talent in the system right now.

What is the best piece of baseball advice or instruction you have ever received?
My dad has always told me that “I’m as good as the work I put in.” In other words, while my friends are out having fun during the day, I have to go put in my hours at the gym to get stronger. I have to get to the field to hit, throw and run, and most important, think about the game by putting myself in game situations in my mind now, so when they happen in the game I have already played it out before.

What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t playing baseball?
When I’m not playing baseball I like to go fishing, play PlayStation, clean my vehicle, and spend time with my loved ones.

What specifically are you hoping to improve upon this year?
I want to improve on my speed and quickness so that I can play multiple positions and be great at them, not just average. But I would like to improve on all my skills.

Interview With Cleveland Indians Outfield Prospect Jordan Smith

By: Andrew Martin

Currently in first place in the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians are starting to emerge from rebuilding mode and they have many reasons for optimism. The influx of young talent the team has brought up in recent seasons has helped return the Indians to winning ways. However, outfield continues to be an area needing more depth, as evidenced by the recent signing of 38 year old Johnny Damon.

One young player the Indians are counting on to remedy this by moving quickly through their system is Jordan Smith.
A big left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing corner outfielder, Smith was drafted in the 9th round of the 2011 MLB draft out of St. Cloud State College in Minnesota, where he played third base. Because of his athleticism and big arm, the Indians decided to move him to the outfield to give the organization the potential for more impact options. Smith rewarded the Indians faith by having an excellent first professional season last year, collecting a .300 batting average and 47 RBI in 65 short-season games. He is already off to a quick start at A-ball in 2012 and if he keeps producing like this, he should place himself in an excellent position to join the Indians outfield before long.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
My favorite team growing up was the Minnesota Twins, but my favorite player was Cal Ripken, Jr. I just looked up to him. He was a good shortstop and hitter; just somebody you could really look up to, especially since he played every day.

Prior to being drafted, what was your favorite baseball moment or memory?
I would say when we competed in Nationals, 12 and under, AAU. We finished third in Nationals and that was just a fun time. My dad was my coach.

How did you first find out that the Indians were interested in you?
You get letters and whatnot, but if I made a list of the top ten that were interested, I wouldn’t put the Indians on that list. They were kind of just the sleeper team. On draft day they called and said I had been selected by them.

What was draft day like for you?
I was in the Cape. We were at a practice and I had my phone on me, and then it kind of got a little more intense. I set my phone in the grass and when I went back to my phone I had like 200 missed calls and texts. I saw one from the Indians that said they had drafted me in the ninth. It was a pretty exciting moment.

After you signed with Cleveland, did you do anything fun or exciting for yourself or your family?
I went back to Minnesota. I was in Massachusetts during the draft and then I flew back to Minnesota. We signed at my house in Minnesota and then had a little draft party with family and friends. No new vehicles or anything.

What has been the hardest part about adapting to life as a professional baseball player off the field?
I would say the being away from home. Just missing your family and missing your friends. But it’s definitely a good time. Good guys and good coaches.

Interview With Chicago Cubs Prospect Shawon Dunston Jr

By: Andrew Martin

Chicago Cubs fans enjoyed the play of mercurial shortstop Shawon Dunston for better than a decade in the 1980s and 1990s. Soon those same fans may think they have deja vu because Dunston’s son, Shawon Jr., has joined the organization and drawn the excitement of many throughout baseball because of his ability and potential at such a young age.
The right-handed throwing and hitting Dunston, Jr. has a build reminiscent of his father, but his position of centerfield shows that he is his own player. He was a star player in high school and set to play collegiately with Vanderbilt, but then the Cubs took him in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB draft. The signing bonus they dangled in front of him was too much and he decided to sign and start his professional career.
Dunston has yet to appear in his first professional game, but is expected to play in short season ball in 2012. If things go well “Dunston” should once again become a familiar name being announced over the loudspeaker at Wrigley Field in the near future. This past off-season, Dunston checked in to discuss his experiences in baseball. You can also follow his progress this season by giving him a follow on Twitter.

How much time did you spend around clubhouses and major league players when you were a kid?
When my dad was playing, quite some time. My dad is a coach with the Giants, so a little bit now as well.

How difficult was it for you to pass up your Vanderbilt scholarship for the Cubs?
Very difficult. The hardest decision I’ve made. It came down to the wire and I got first round money, so I took it.

Did you and your family/friends do anything special to celebrate after you signed with the Cubs?
Not really. I just got a lot of text messages through friends and family when they found out.

What kind of mental preparation have you been given about assuming the life of a minor league player?
It’s a long season and it’s a grind. You are going to have your good days and your bad days.

What are the main attributes of your game?
I’m a very athletic player.

Your dad was legendary for his throwing arm; how daunting was it to play catch with him?
When I was younger I used to be scared to play catch with him, but now it’s not as bad.

Growing up around Barry Bonds, did you pick up any good advice directly from or by watching him?
Yes, people do not realize how hard he works, and the work he put into baseball. Best player I’ve seen, hands down.

Be sure to check out Shawon Jr’s baseball cards. He’s got a whole bunch of cool ones.

Q&A With Former Marlins First Round Pick Josh Booty

By: Andrew Martin

In 1994, Josh Booty was one of the most coveted high school athletes in the country. He was a star in football and in baseball, and everyone was anxious to see what sport he would choose. It was settled when the Florida Marlins took him with the 5th overall pick in the first round of that year’s MLB draft and signed him to a contract.
Booty, a third baseman, showed great power during his time in the minor leagues, but not enough plate discipline. He had 62 home runs in 478 games, but hit only a combined .198 and struck out in nearly a third of his at bats. The Marlins kept aggressively pushing him through their system, calling him up for brief stints during the 1996-1998 seasons. In 13 career major league games, he collected 7 hits and 4 RBI in 30 at bats, but was never given any extended opportunity.
Following the 1998 baseball season, Booty decided to return to football. He enrolled at LSU under coach Nick Saban and became the team’s starting quarterback, showing a big arm and production. In 2001 he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 6th round. He was with the Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, and Oakland Raiders for parts of four seasons, but never got into a game, and ended up retiring from the NFL in 2007.
Today, Booty leads a busy life. In addition to his family, he has been extremely active in charitable work, worked as a sports commentator, and started his own sports performance and nutrition company called Atleta (http://atletanutrition.com), currently serving as their vice president. Despite his busy schedule, I was recently able to catch up with him and ask him some questions about his baseball career.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
The New York Yankees and Will Clark.

How did you know the Marlins were interested in drafting you?
Gary Hughes, the Head of Scouting for Florida, took a real interest in me, so I knew If I was still around for the fifth pick that they were going to draft me.

How did the Marlins recruit you to give up football for baseball?
Money and big league call ups.

Who was your most influential baseball coach or manager?
Tony Taylor, infield instructor, ex major leaguer, great guy and wonderful coach.

What was your favorite moment from your baseball career?
Big league debut. I singled in my first at bat.

What do you remember most from your stints in the majors leagues?
World Series year in 1997.

How much pressure did you feel during your minor league career from being such a highly regarded prospect and how did that impact you?
I tried to do too much, and wanted to set the world on fire with my bat, and wasn’t patient enough for the sport

If you could do anything differently about your baseball career, what would that be?
Give it more of a chance. I laid it down to go play football, which I loved.

Q&A With St Louis Cardinals Prospect Steven Ramos

By: Andrew Martin

With the departure of free agent Albert Pujols, and veteran mainstays like Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman advancing in years, the St. Louis Cardinals expect to infuse a good amount of young talent into their team over the next few seasons. One of those players that they are excited about is outfielder Steven Ramos.
Ramos was taken in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB draft; skipping college to pursue his dream of a major league career. He is a natural center fielder, but can play at all three spots in the outfield, sporting excellent range and a strong arm. The right-handed Ramos’ most advanced skill at this time is his speed, and while he doesn’t have a frame that suggests he will develop into a power hitter, he does has the talent to become an effective hitter.
Ramos played his first two professional years came in short-season leagues, hitting a combined .269 in 108 games, with 3 home runs, 36 RBI, and 34 stolen bases. He will be assigned to a full-season team in 2012 and look to build on his progress while continuing to move steadily through the St. Louis system.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?
I grew up a San Francisco Giants fan because that was my parents’ favorite team. Favorite player was Roberto Clemente for what he did on and off the field.

How did you know that the Cardinals were interested in you?
They gave me a call two weeks before the draft and invited me to a pre draft workout.

Can you describe what your draft day experience was like?
It was very exciting and stressful waiting to hear my name called.

What made you decide to sign with St. Louis rather than pursuing your scholarship with Cal-State Fullerton?
I told myself before the season if I somehow got drafted I would take it. I have heard a lot of stories about people not getting drafted a second time, and didn’t want that to happen. Plus, the Cardinals are known for winning and being a great organization.

What has been your favorite moment so far in your career?
Playing in the Appalachian League championship series.

What specific skill do you hope to improve upon most in 2012?
My vision and plate discipline.

Have you ever gotten any advice or instruction from players or coaches who are at the major league level?
Skip Schumacher gave me pointers on switching outfield to infield like he did. Nick Punto just gave me some advice about the game as a whole.

Q&A With Boston Red Sox Prospect Boss Moanaroa

By: Andrew Martin

The Boston Red Sox look high and low to ferret out prospects for their farm system. In recent years they have expanded their efforts outside of the draft, and have scouted in countries like the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, and Australia. A number of intriguing talents have been uncovered, with one of the most recent finds being Boss Moanaroa, a powerful first baseman out of Australia.
Just 20 years of age, Moanaroa already has three professional seasons under his belt, making it as far as short season Lowell this past year. The Red Sox are taking it slow with him because of his limited experience and raw skills, but have to be pleased with what they have seen so far. In 105 games the left-handed hitter has put up a .258 average, with 7 home runs and 47 RBI. His .351 OPB is also impressive for someone his age, and while he is still acclimating to first base, the Red Sox believe he is making progress.
This past season I caught up with Moanaroa to check in with him about his path to professional baseball.

How did you first become interested in playing baseball?
It was by my dad, in Australia. He actually played cricket and softball. He played that for a while, he played when he was young actually. We actually started off in t-ball, and went from there.

Was it through softball that you grew to like baseball?
I didn’t really play softball. I watched it, but my dad told me I needed to try baseball. We went along with that, and I’m glad I did.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you?
There are Australian scouts for different organizations, and I guess they approached me. It just went from there. For me it was just a shocked because I was 16. We talked and had a one-on-one session, and it went from there.

Did your brother (Moko) sign at the same time?
No. He actually came over here, and the first game he played, he hit a home run. They put a contract out, and it went from there as well.

When you signed with Boston, did you do anything special for yourself or your family?
We actually went out for a big dinner. It wasn’t really too out of control; just had the family over.

How has it been adapting to the United States and minor league baseball?
A challenge is the routine you have to get in to. You play every day, and in Australia, you probably play like twice a week. The main thing for me has just been getting into my own routine and sticking with it. I’m doing really well so far, so I have to keep that up.

Interview With Arizona Diamondbacks Pitching Prospect Victor Lara

By: Andrew Martin

When a pitcher gets drafted, major league teams can care less about the size of the school they came from, if they can throw hard. While reliever Victor Lara attended tiny Division III Keystone College in Towanda, Pennsylvania, his ability to throw his fastball as hard as 98 mph got him quickly noticed by professional talent evaluators. As a result, he was taken in the 34th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The right-handed Lara struggled in his first professional season in 2010 with Missoula in the Rookie level Pioneer League, posting an 8.02 ERA. But his average of more than a strikeout per inning displayed the promise that had made him a draft pick. He was much better in 2011 playing again with Missoula. Lara dropped his ERA to 4.80 in 22 games, while picking up a save and striking out 40 hitters in 30 innings. He will be looked upon again to improve even further in 2012, and is a good bet to start his season in A-ball.

I recently had an opportunity to find out more about this intriguing pitching prospect.

Who was your favorite team and player growing up, and why?
I have always loved the Florida Marlins. I’m a Florida boy and I grew up going to the stadium and watching them play. Growing up I always liked Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux; Ryan because of his fastball and Maddux because of his pin-point control and his movement.

Can you run through what your draft experience was like?
Well, I always wanted to get drafted and play in the big leagues like any other kid that plays baseball, but it was rough. I jumped two colleges and it was hard for me. I ended up at Keystone and had my chance to compete there even though I had to battle a few obstacles. Waiting for my name to be called in the draft had to be one of the most nerve wracking situations I’ve been put in my life, but at the same time I was excited. When I saw my friends from my school that got drafted to the same team, it was an awesome feeling.

You played college baseball at Keystone College, a Division III school; did you anticipate having an opportunity to be drafted after you decided to attend there?
In a way I did because of my ability, but in the back of my mind I was like ‘what I’m I doing here in the middle of nowhere? No one will come see me here play.’ But little did I know scouts started to show up to our practices and our games, and I started to get letters and phone calls, and I said to myself ‘there’s a chance,’ and every time I stepped on the field I played 110% and gave it my all. My dad always told me that they will find me anywhere I would play, and that’s exactly how it happened.

What pitches do you throw, and which one is your strongest and which one needs the most work?
I throw a fastball, which is my best pitch, a slider, and a split change. The slider is the pitch I will have to work on the most and try to make it better.

How difficult is it to adapt to the life and routines of a professional baseball player?
It was tough on my body and on my mind. Playing every day is hard and you have to be prepared to do it, and to perform every day and every time your name is called.

What is the best baseball park/stadium you have ever played in?
I will have to say Billings, Montana, in rookie ball for the Cincinnati Reds.

You are in the 2011 Topps Pro Debut card set; what is it like having your own baseball card?
Yes, I have my own card. I think it’s awesome when you have something that your fans can have and show you and send you fan mail, and return the card signed. It’s an unbelievable feeling for any athlete.

Be sure to check out Victor Lara’s 2011 Topps Pro Debut Baseball Card and you can also follow him on Twitter @viclara34, to monitor his progress this upcoming season.

Interview With Tampa Bay Rays 2011 2nd Round Pick Hawaii Closer Pick Lenny Linsky

By: Andrew Martin

After losing a number of key players to free agency, the Tampa Bay Rays went into the 2011 MLB draft with 12 of the first 90 picks. Already possessing a strong farm system, they continued to stockpile a variety of talent. With the 89th overall pick they chose right-handed reliever Lenny Linsky from the University of Hawaii.

Linsky finished his college career with 27 saves, the second most all-time for the Rainbow Warriors. He was most impressive as a junior in 2011, appearing in 27 games, posting a 1.30 ERA, and setting the school’s single season record with 14 saves, while striking out 34 in 34.2 innings.

Using a three quarters arm slot, Linsky features a low to mid-90’s fastball and a plus slider. He signed early and was able to pitch in a total of 16 minor league games this year between short season Hudson Valley and A-level Bowling Green. He was impressive, going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.

Linsky projects to be a major part of the Rays’ bullpen in the near future. I was recently able to catch up with and find out a little more about the rising prospect.

How did you become interested in baseball?
For my first birthday my Dad told me I got a baseball glove. I guess that was the start. I was able to throw a baseball before I was even able to walk. I got on my knees and would throw the ball to my Dad.

Who was your favorite team and player growing up?
My Dad is from Boston; from Back Bay, so I grew up a Sox fan. I followed them my whole life. Getting drafted by the Rays was kind of cool, getting drafted by another AL East team. I’ll get to play the Sox hopefully at one point.

How did you first find out that Tampa Bay was interested in you?
Early into my junior season, they had a scout out there in Hawaii. He just scouts Hawaii, so he watched me every time I threw. He would be there, and I would get lots of phone calls. They were actually the most interested team, so I was kind of pulling for them to draft me, and they did.

What was draft day like for you?
I just had all of my friends and family over. We were just hanging out and having a little party, a barbeque, and just watching. I found out early on the second day. I woke up early and I got all excited. They didn’t call me; I was just listening to it on mlb.com. It was just a radio broadcast and the guy just said ‘Linsky.’ I was like, ‘Wait!’ And he said, ‘Lenny. Leonardo Linsky.’ I just jumped up and screamed. The whole family opened up a bottle of champagne and started the party. It’s hard to describe. Even to this day, it hasn’t hit me fully yet because your whole life has just accumulated and gone to that one moment.

After you signed with Tampa Bay, did you do anything to treat yourself or your family?
I bought some Dr. Dre Beats headphones, which I had wanted for a while. I got a pair of new Oakley sun glasses. I also took my family out to dinner. I’ve been trying to put all of the money away.

Do you know if the Rays are going to keep you in the bullpen, or do they have another role in mind for you?
I don’t really know. I’ve been doing a lot of roles. I’ve been in late relief, in long relief, and closed. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do. I was a closer in college.

Interview With Boston Red Sox Dutch Pitching Prospect Swen Huijer

By: Andrew Martin

The profile of Dutch baseball is rapidly gaining prominence. In addition to just beating Cuba in the 2011 Baseball World Cup, more and more players from the Netherlands are signing professional contracts to play in the United States. There are only two current Dutch players in the major leagues, Seattle Mariners outfielder Greg Halman and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Rick VandenHurk, but more are on the way from the minors, as baseball has made big gains in popularity in the Netherlands, where soccer is king.

One of the Dutch minor league players is pitching prospect Swen Huijer. The lanky 6’9 right-hander was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 2008. He has been groomed slowly thus far, pitching in the Gulf Coast League his first three seasons, and playing for short season Lowell in 2011. It was a successful campaign at Lowell, as he went 2-2 in 14 relief appearances, with a 2.43 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. He has pitched effectively in each of his professional seasons, and it will be interesting to see how he does in 2012.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the soon to be 21 year ould Huijer and found out a little more about his experiences playing baseball professionally in the United States, what he does to prepare to take the mound, and his involvement with Dutch baseball.

What do you feel you improved upon most in 2011?
From December on, when I started playing catch, I tried to work on my off-speed a lot since these where very raw. During extended spring I seemed to start to get the hang of it and got more feel for my change-up. My curveball wasn’t as loopy as it was before because I gained a couple miles velocity.

During the off-season, is it difficult to find a balance between relaxing and keeping up on your conditioning?
From the moment I come home I take a couple weeks off from baseball. I try to give the body at least four good weeks rest before I start working out again. Once October comes I’ll run six or seven miles, at least three times a week. Next to that I’ll spend four days a week lifting weights and doing lots of agility.

Prior to signing a professional baseball contract, you went to cooking school and were going to be a chef. Do you find time to cook in the off-season? What are your specialties?
In my first off-season I worked a lot in the kitchen where I finished my internship. After that, I really wanted to focus on baseball. So I started giving baseball clinics throughout the Netherlands. Last year I got a job offer as a pitching instructor for the MLB Baseball Academy in Amsterdam for the time that I’m home. This way I can help raise the level of baseball in the Netherlands by teaching them what I’ve learned in the last five years in the States. It’s a lot of fun and I get to work with the best talent that we have in our country. So all I do right now is cook at home for friends and family, and experiment with recipes. One of my favorite ingredients to work with is duck. No matter if you want it classic with an orange sauce, or maybe smoked on top of a salad, duck is always tasty!

Talk about your status with the Dutch National Team. Will you be playing for Netherlands during the 2013 World Baseball Classic?
A lot of people know that the Dutch won the World Championships in Panama two weeks ago. It proves that beating the Dominican Republic twice in the previous WBC tournament wasn’t just luck. It shows that we do know what were doing even though were not able to play the game as much as you do in the States. I still practice indoors with the squad during the winter to get my arm in shape for spring training. Hopefully I’ll be able to fight for a spot for the WBC in 2013.

Who has been the most influential person for you in the Red Sox organization in terms of giving coaching you or providing advice?
I think everybody in the organization has had a huge impact on my life; from coaches, to teammates, to people that work in the front office. You learn a lot from everybody that is around the game. Two people that really helped me adjust to my new life in the United States were Goose Gregson (pitching coach) and Dave Tomlin (manager). They really looked after me and kicked my ass into the right direction where needed.

How much contact do you have with the Red Sox organization during the off-season?
Since I live in the Netherlands during the off-season it’s hard for the Red Sox to check up on me. It’s my own responsibility to follow the program they give you and be ready when March comes. In the end that’s the reason why you’re a professional athlete, right?

What do you think about more: Wondering if you will make it to the major leagues or thinking about what it will be like when you do make the major leagues?
At this point it’s not even crossing my mind. All I want to do is get in the best shape possible for spring training, pitch in a league where the Red Sox put me, and whatever happens, happens. It’s a long way to the top, but I’ll do everything that’s in my own control to get there.

Interview With Washington Nationals 2011 First Round Pick Pitcher Alex Meyer

By: Andrew Martin

Lately the Washington Nationals have not just been accumulating prospects, they have been stacking them up like cord wood. In the past couple of years they have picked up well known mega prospects in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but they may have gotten their best haul from the 2011 draft, which brought a blend of well regarded hitters and pitchers. Alex Meyer is one of the most highly regarded prospects snatched up by Washington this draft’s haul. Taken with the 23rd pick in the first round, the 6’9 right handed pitcher projects to one day help anchor the top of the Washington starting rotation with Strasburg.

Meyer was originally drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in 2008, but opted to attend the University of Kentucky instead. He was successful throughout his Kentucky Wildcats career. In 2011, his junior year, Meyer went 7-5 with a 2.94 ERA, and an SEC leading 110 strikeouts. Armed with a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball, and a slider and change-up that scouts believe will both be plus pitches, Meyer has the stuff to be a front of the rotation type starter. I recently caught up with Meyer and was able to find out a little more about him and his experiences in baseball. Take a moment to get to know one of baseball’s next top prospects.

How did you first get interested in baseball?
I first got interested in baseball at a very young age. My dad is a big baseball fan and so is my mom. When I was growing up, there was always baseball on at my house. Whether it was the Cubs always being on WGN or if I had to watch the Braves every night on TBS, there was always baseball on TV. I honestly don’t think I went a day, even being as young as 5-6 years old, to where I didn’t watch a baseball game or at least ESPN highlights. I really think this was a big influence on my life.

Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
Growing up, my favorite team was the Seattle Mariners until Ken Griffey Jr. got traded. Then, I started to like the Boston Red Sox. My favorite player was Griffey Jr. without a doubt. I feel like he was everyone’s favorite player at that time. He was fun to watch because he was everything that every young kid wanted to be. He played the game the right way and he had fun doing it.

What was the draft process like this year? How did you know that Washington was interested in you?
The draft process was a lot of fun. I feel like if you don’t just sit back and enjoy it then it can really be overwhelming for people. I had fun with it and my parents were really good about it too. They were always there supporting me telling me that it was my decision on what to do. I knew the Nationals were interested in me, but didn’t know how interested they were until I heard my name selected on TV that night. They did a good job of not “bothering” me with phone calls during the season and just let me play. They did things the right way.

What is it like to be part of the “super prospect group” for Washington, with you, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Matt Purke, etc…?
The group of players that Washington has drafted over the past few years is incredible. To be included with a group of players mentioned above is really humbling for me. It’s an honor to get to play pro ball, but to be able to play with such a good group of guys committed to getting better makes it that much more fun. I’m really excited to get back for the Spring and really get to work again.

What is the best piece of advice or instruction you have gotten as a baseball player?
The best piece of advice that I have gotten in baseball has been this and I believe it to a tee; Baseball is a game of failure. There is so much failure that if you aren’t careful, it can really bring you down. You have to stay positive through the good times and bad. In baseball, a guy can fail 7 times out of 10 and be considered one of the greatest hitters in the game (.300 batting average). Baseball is all about staying calm and positive and the ability to play through the tough times.

What has your experience been like with fans?
It’s been fun. While I was at Auburn (Washington’s Short-A New York Penn League Affiliate) for a short period of time, the fans there were awesome. They were excited for the organization. I didn’t necessarily know what to expect when I got there, but the fans there made us feel welcome and made the experience a fun time.