Results tagged ‘ Trayce Thompson ’
I am more than halfway through with our Defensive Gems series on MiLB.com. In case you are unfamiliar with it, here is the stock copy we print at the beginning of every edition:
As documentarian Ken Burns noted, baseball is the one game in which the defense — not the offense — possesses the ball. With this in mind, MiLB.com continues its “Defensive Gems” series. Over the next nine weeks, we will feature a top prospect at each position who also happens to be an elite defender. In deciding which players to focus on, six scouting directors were polled and extensive research was conducted…
Here are the five stories of the nine total that are completed: Click on the player’s name to be taken to the story:
|POS||Subjects with story links|
|C||Austin Hedges (SD: A pupil of Brad Ausmus)|
|2B||Carlos Sanchez (CWS: A good defender at three positions)|
|3B||Mike Olt (TEX: A slow-roller expert with soft hands)|
|SS||Francisco Lindor (CLE: A natural ballplayer that is “Cano-ish”)|
|CF||Mason Williams (NYY: A gifted athlete making acrobatic plays)|
Prospect Q&A: White Sox Outfielder Courtney Hawkins on His Breakout First Summer in Pro Ball, Other Stuff
Courtney Hawkins talks like you might think he would. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, he has a deep, sure-sounding voice. And at 19 years old, he’s prone to talking like a teen — or at least like a top prospect who has been around the interview circuit. You may notice below his use of “Like I said,” on his first mention of topics, almost like he’s answered the same questions all winter long.
Here’s why I and others want to learn more about Hawkins (aside from his back-flip ability, which he explains below): The Texan was the 13th overall pick in the 2012 Draft and, after a very good first pro season (stats here), he is already MLB.com’s No. 68 prospect and the top-ranked farmhand in the White Sox’s system. (It could be argued that he had the best summer debut of any ’12 draftee this side of the A’s Addison Russell.)
I caught up with Hawkins last week, just after he completed a month-plus of working out in Florida and was driving from his home in Corpus Christi, Texas to Houston — the burly slugger leaves for Minor League camp on Tuesday, Feb. 19. And I heard that deep, sure-sounding voice, or a muffled version of it on his speaker phone, but we talked a lot about listening. Turns out, Hawkins did a lot of that last summer.
“Don’t rush stuff. Take it day by day,” he says of the constant advice from fellow Chicago farmhand Jared Mitchell, who just happened to be Prospect Uniformed earlier today. “I’ll say something like, ‘Man, I’m ready to go.’ And he’ll say, ‘You just need to relax and play the game.’”
Mitchell, of course, was in 2009 where Hawkins is today: highly-touted outfielder with loads of potential yet to be realized.
On his Draft-day back flip: ”Everyone always asks me this, and I love telling the real story: I was sitting there, celebrating with my friends and, I forgot her name, but the lady who was there [interviewing me] came up to me and asked, ‘Can you do a back flip?’ I was like, ‘Whaaat?’ She was like, ‘If I ask you to do a back-flip [on-air], can you do it?’ I was like, ‘Uhhh, I guess. Really?’ It wasn’t me just doing it. It was her asking, and I was like, ‘Sure, no problem.’”
On his offseason: “It’s different. Like I said, normally, it’s year-round baseball for me, and now I’ve finally got a chance for a little break. I have been lifting hard, and working out hard. I’m in a lot better shape than when [the winter] started. The goal is to get bigger, better, stronger, faster — that’s everything. I got stronger. I toned up. I lost some bad weight and put on some good weight. I was 225 [pounds]. I’m about 235 now. I’m still able to move pretty good.”
You deserve the truth. Here it is. Many of my MiLB editorial colleagues and I (at least, those of us willing to admit it) actually look forward to the offseason. Don’t get me wrong. We love baseball as much as you do. But after six months of ballgames… well, you get the picture.
But we also look forward to the offseason — at least, I do, and I can only speak for myself — because this time gives us a chance to spend time reporting on prospects we perhaps missed during the season, when things are undoubtedly busier. One of the vehicles for this reporting is our recurring “Prospect Q&A” feature (previously called “Ten Questions with…”
I like this story format because it’s done in a casual, conversational form but can still yield quality content. I use it as an opportunity to test my educated opinion, too, on who might be among the next great group of prospects. How did I do last year in identifying these guys? Here are the seven I wrote around this time last year:
- Prospect Q&A: Carpenter’s trade-off – 03/19/12 — Cubs-turned-Red Sox right-hander Chris Carpenter told me he was “startled to learn he was “traded” for Boston-turned-Chicago exec Theo Epstein … then he missed the first half of the season after undergoing minor surgery on his throwing elbow but finished the season in the Red Sox’s bullpen.
- Prospect Q&A: Doolittle does more – 03/05/12 — A’s slugger-turned-pitcher Sean Doolittle told me had a “whole new energy for the game” after overcoming multiple injuries as a position player … then he dominated in the Minors, needing just 16 combined relief appearances at three levels before becoming the setup man for the American League West Division champ.
- Prospect Q&A: Hamilton a humble thief – 02/20/12 — The Reds’ Billy Hamilton told me about the baserunning advice he “stole” from Delino DeShields and Joe Morgan … then, in the wake of Mike Trout’s promotion to Majors, he became the Minors’ most exciting player and — oh, by the way — the single-season thefts record-holder.
- Prospect Q&A: ‘Reck’ turns to Langston – 02/06/12 — Angels top prospect-turned-forgotten farmhand Trevor Reckling told me former Halos hurler and fellow lefty Mark Langston was getting him back on track … then he struggled at the Class A Advanced level, was released and (despite his Twitter bio) appears unemployed.
- Prospect Q&A: Thompson has tools – 01/23/12 — The White Sox’s Trayce Thompson, the son and brother of NBA players, told me hadn’t yet scratched the surface of his athletic potential … then hit 25 home runs at age 21, finished the season at Triple-A after starting it at High-A and went from unranked to No. 1 on Chicago’s list.
- Prospect Q&A: Dominguez goes fishing – 01/09/12 — Marlins-turned-Astros third-baseman-of-the-future Matt Dominguez told me he needed to be a more consistent hitter … then, post-trade, he batted .298 at Triple-A and .284 in Houston to complement his gold glove-caliber defense on the hot corner.
- Prospect Q&A: Friedrich and free time – 12/05/11 — Rockies left-hander Christian Friedrich told me about escaping his offseason man cave to find a catch partner … then pitched well in his first five Triple-A starts before having a feast-or-famine 16-start campaign in Colorado.
OK, so I swung and missed on Carpenter and Reckling. But I’m pretty proud of that Doolittle-Hamilton-Thompson trio. Yeah, Hamilton was already a known quantity, having stole 103 bases in 2011, but Doolittle and Thompson really saw a spike in their value as prospects and ballplayers.
So who is next on my radar? Below is a list of MiLBers my colleagues and I are considering interviewing this winter for your reading enjoyment. My choices are denoted in italics.
Most important — this is the real reason for this blog post — is who is NOT on this list. Is there a prospect or two you’d like to see us catch up with November through March? If so, who and why? Use that ever-so-lonely comment section below, please.
- Matt Barnes (Red Sox)
- David Dahl (Rockies)
- Addison Russell (A’s)
- Byron Buxton (Twins)
- Josh Bell (Pirates)
- Michael Wacha (Cardinals)
- Max Kepler (Twins)
- Mike Zunino (Mariners)
- Richie Shaffer (Rays)
- Kolten Wong (Cardinals)
- Kevin Gausman (Orioles)
- Jorge Soler (Cubs)
- Jackie Bradley (Red Sox)
- George Springer (Astros)
- Dan Straily (A’s)
- Brandon Nimmo (Mets)
- Tony Cingrani (Reds)
- Joe Panik (Giants)
- Christian Yelich (Marlins)