1st inning- How much did sports, and specifically baseball, mean to you growing up?
I have been playing baseball since I was 4 years old and it is everything I have ever known. My dad and I would go up to the field when he got home from work and hit for hours on end. This started when I was about 6 and continued up until the Royals selected me in the 5th round. My family has sacrificed a lot to make sure the family schedule revolved around baseball.
2nd inning- What was your favorite memory of little league baseball?
My favorite memory is definitely Cooperstown. I actually went there three times, once when I was 11 and twice when I was 12. We got to stay in barracks with our team and the coaches. The highlight was trading pins with our team logo on it with all the other 79 teams. The atmosphere there is unforgettable and easily made it the best memory from my Little League days.
3rd inning- You played for the Midland Redskins which is a summer team that the following former or current Royals played for….Zack Greinke, Sam Runion, Justin Marks, Christian Colon, Eric Hosmer, and John Lamb….how unique is this team and what is it about the Redskins that have made this program so successful?
This team I played on was outstanding. I think what sets the organization apart is the fact that the players they get to spend the summer in Cincinnati are completely dedicated to baseball. The coaches are good at identifying talent and provide the players with the opportunity to really dedicate themselves to baseball for the entire summer.
4th inning- You were a fantastic P during your high school career but gave it up despite being 6-1 with a .64 e.r.a as a junior. Why did you give up pitching and what was your arsenal and velocity on the bump?
I gave up pitching because I knew I wasn’t going to make a living there and I didn’t want to risk an injury and put the draft or my future in baseball in jeopardy.Â I was fortunate enough to have Craig Biggio as a coach and I wanted to make sure I had every opportunity for him to instruct me on how to make my game better at shortstop. The time I would have invested in throwing bullpens may have compromised how much time I was able to invest in hitting and defense.
As far as my arsenal, I threw a 2-seam, 4-seam, Change-Up and a Curveball. I can even mix in a pretty good knuckleball even though I never have thrown that in a game. I sat right around 90 on a really good day. I had good command and really enjoyed pitching, I just knew my future was with the bat.
5th inning- You left behind a solid high school career in Florida to move to Texas to play for future hall of famer Craig Biggio. What was it like playing for Craig and how hard was it to leave behind a group of friends you had played with since you were 6?
Well when my parents told me that we were going to move to Houston, I was not the most excited person in the world. People close to me said it would be a great experience and they were right. My feelings changed once I got there. Playing for Coach Biggio was the best thing I could have asked for. I don’t think I could have had a more knowledgeable coach than a future Hall of Famer and a player who was so versatile throughout his big league career.
6th inning- Is there any one piece of advice that anyone has given you in baseball that will stick with you until you hang up the spikes?
I have been fortunate to have a few good people around me who are very knowledgeable about the game of baseball. My dad has given me a lot of advice but the one thing he has told me that I will always remember is to forget about my last at bat regardless of what the outcome was, prepare myself for the next at bat, and to not take a bad at bat to the field. I have always done that and I will always do that. I have also been able to get advice from Royals minor league pitcher Jake Odorizzi. He was also drafted out of high school and has been very successful, he was able to share his experiences with me as well.
7th inning- RH power is such a rare commodity in baseball…You have that skill set, but what else do you think a scout would write about you if they watched you over a 5 game period?
First and foremost I hope a scout would notice that I am a team player and winning comes before any individual accomplishment. In my short career I have been a part of several teams that have won at a very high level and that means a lot to me. If a scout were writing a report and evaluating my ability, I think they would write that I use the entire when I hit, I have good hands and a strong arm and I play each game as if it might be my last. I really enjoy being on the baseball field.
8th inning- The Royals have suggested that you could become a 3B in the near future and I know you have also gotten some work in the OF what would be the ideal situation for you as a professional?
My ultimate goal is to have a long career in the Major Leagues. While I love the infield, particularly shortstop, I will work hard at whatever position or positions the Royals indicate will be best for the organization and will get me to the big leagues the quickest. I have recently started working on playing the outfield and although I have a considerable amount of work to do I am very pleased with the progress I have made.
9th inning- You are joining a organization that (by the time you get to the big leagues) should have some of the best young talent in the game. …what do you know about the history of the Royals and what are you most looking forward to in the future as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
I am very familiar with the young talent the Royals are currently developing. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are some of the best young players in the big leagues, and Wil Meyers is one of the best minor league prospects as is Jake Odorizzi who I have had a chance to meet and speak with. I also know a great deal about Kyle Smith, the Royals 4th round pick and Bryan Brickhouse, the Royals 3rd round pick so I am extremely excited to be a part of an organization that recognizes our ability and is committed to helping us get to the big leagues. I am also very familiar with George Brett and his contributions to both the Royals and Major League Baseball.
extra inning- What are your 5 favorite things to do besides play baseball?
Well by far my favorite thing to do is watch movies, which I am sure I will have plenty of time to do on those long minor league bus rides. In order, I think 1-5 would have to be:.
â€¢ Spending time with family and friends
â€¢ Movies (please ask me if you ever need a movie review)
â€¢ Music (I prefer country and rap)
â€¢ Concerts (Houston has a rodeo in March that was a great experience, I got to see Brad Paisely, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and more)
â€¢ Video games (donâ€™t challenge me at Call of Duty)
Thanks for asking me to be a part of the 9 inning series and I am excited about beginning my professional career with the Kansas City Royals organization.