[The video is premium content but I have included a transcript of the video in this article that is free for all to read.-Gene]
I know I'm going to embarrass you when I saw this but you are a defensive wizard. You were a gold glove selection your two years at junior college. When did you realize you were so talented defensively?
"It's something that has always been one of my strengths. When I started Little League everybody played shortstop and it was something that I fell in love with. For me, the hitting came along a little later in high school and my first two years of junior college. Defensively, it came a little more natural. And I think I have been able to improve my skills over the two years of junior college. The pace of the game was a little faster but I think I was able to adjust. But it's nice because it came natural. Whereas, hitting is something that I had to work on."
Did you realize early on that you were a natural at defense or did you think it was something that everybody could do well?
"I put in a lot of work early on. I started playing baseball year-round when I was either 9 or 10-years-old. I don't have the best footspeed but I've always been able to field the routine play and being able to repeat it. Being able to make that routine play is what's makes me successful and I think that's what makes a good infielder successful. Yes, it's nice to have those guys who makes the jump throws and the diving plays, and those will come, but I think making the routine play is what has made me so successful."
Outfielders talk about reading the ball off the bat. Do infielders read the ball off the bat as well?
"Absolutely. You can read the angle of the bat and get a better read and a better jump on where the ball is going. And for someone like me who doesn't have the footspeed of some of the other people here in the SEC that is a key component of it, being able to get that extra step and getting to the balls that I normally wouldn't be able to get to."
What makes a good defensive infielder, your eyes, your hands, your feet?
"It's your feet. It's putting yourself in a good position to get a good hop and then throwing it with your feet (positioned correctly). That's important too, because you make a lot of throws in the infield from all different positions and different angles. Being able to get your feet in the right position is where the consistency comes from and what makes a successful infielder. "
Although you are excellent defensively, you still make an error ever so often. Are your errors more fielding or more throwing errors?
"You'll see both but I would say normally it's when your footwork gets thrown off and you create a bad hop for yourself. You may get an in-between bad hop that may bounce off of your glove. That's normally caused by you not charging or not getting your feet in a good position to field it."
We've talked about your defense but you are also a really good hitter, hitting in the .355 and .330 range your two years in junior college. What kind of hitter are you?
"I think my hitting is very similar to how I play defensively. It's all about consistency. I'm not going to be a guy who hits balls out left and right and hit for a ton of power. I am more of an average and contact hitter. I am going to get the barrel on the ball, hit line drives and be more of a gap to gap type hitter."
If I remember correctly you don't strike out much either.
"When I get two strikes on me I try to simplify everything and try to shorten up and eliminate the strikeouts. Being a contact hitter you have to try and eliminate the strikeouts."
Talk about the recruiting process and how a player from the state of Washington wound up at Mississippi State.
"(Mississippi State) needed another middle infielder and Coach (Butch) Thompson was in talks with other coaches. You know how the whole baseball network works. Coach (Nick) Mingione gave me a call and told me about the program and asked me if I was interested. I told him I was. They then got me down (to Mississippi State) for a visit. I got to see the campus, see the area and meet the guys. And I just fell in love with it. Now I'm here."
What did you already know about Mississippi State?
"I knew they competed in the SEC, which is obviously the best baseball conference. I didn't know a whole lot of specifics about them, where they were, who the coaches were and other things around the program. But as the recruiting process got going I got to know Coach Mingione and Coach (John) Cohen. I talked to some other people and heard so many good things about it. Then I came down here and I just loved it."
What did you love about Mississippi State?
"(At first) it's a culture shock. It's definitely different than the northwest. But I really enjoy how genuine and nice the people are down here. The environment is a lot more relaxed. And the people are more supportive of college athletics. There isn't a professional sports team that is real close. Back home we have the (Seattle) Seahawks and the (Seattle) Mariners, pro teams that people support. Here, it's all about Mississippi State. I thought that was very unique and a very cool thing."
Did it surprised you the quality of their facilities?
"Yes sir, they are incredible. On the west coast there are some big-time schools with some unbelievable facilities but there is nothing that would compare to what they have down here."
Recruiting-wise, what other schools did you consider other than Mississippi State?
"There were a few schools on the west coast. One was the University of Portland. Things didn't work out there as far as transcripts and transferring credits. I talked to UC Santa Barbara a little bit. They, like Mississippi State, were late in the recruiting process but I was already pretty invested in (Mississippi State) and fell in love with it here. So, it was kind of too late for them. And the University of Central Florida was another one. I was open to going anywhere. I wasn't stuck on just going to the west coast. I think one of the cool things about being a junior college player is your horizons open up as far as places that you can go."
You said you loved it here when you came down for a visit. Now that you have been here for a few weeks has it been everything you thought it would be?
"It has. I met a few guys when I came down on my visit. But now it has been about a month and you get to know everybody really well. And I love everybody. It has been great so far. Just living down here, meeting the people in the community, some fans, it's been a really cool experience."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.