INTERVIEW: BRANDON DRURY

Photo: MiLB.com

Photo: MiLB.com

Here’s an interview with Arizona Diamondbacks #10 organizational prospect Brandon Drury that I did over on CalLeagueHeat.com. Drury is with the Visalia Rawhide  of the hiA Cal League this season.

Brandon Drury is playing 3B and batting in the #3 hole for the Visalia Rawhide this season. Selected by the Braves in the 13th round of the 2010 draft, Baseball America now has Drury ranked as the Diamondback’s #10 organizational prospect.

The Diamondbacks acquired Drury in the trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta and Martin Prado to Arizona. After a down year at loA in the SAL in 2012 (.229/.270/.333), Drury repeated the level in 2013, only in the Midwest League, with breakout results: .302/.362/.500, 15 homers and 51 doubles.

I had a chance to talk to Brandon Drury at Recreation Park in Visalia just before the 2014 season kicked off:

YOU CAME OVER TO THE DIAMONDBACKS FROM THE BRAVES. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE, BEING TRADED WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP IN THE BRAVES ORGANIZATION?
It was definitely weird, especially being signed at the young age of 17 so all I knew was the Braves. So then, to wake up in the morning and get traded to the Diamondbacks it kind of shocked me a little bit but, at the same time, it is an honor to be traded for a guy like Justin Upton.

YOU REPEATED LO-A BALL LAST YEAR WITH TREMENDOUS IMPROVEMENT. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAD SO MUCH MORE SUCCESS LAST YEAR IN THE MIDWEST LEAGUE VERSUS THE YEAR BEFORE IN THE SAL?
I think I just matured a little bit, not only mentally but in my approach at the plate. I had more discipline and I stuck with my approach more than trying to do too much and I think that that is a huge part of the game. Sticking with a plan and not trying to do too much. I think I stuck with my plan a lot better last year and was obviously more mature. It just takes time to learn how to hit good pitching.

WAS THERE ANY OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE IN THE COACHING YOU GOT WHEN YOU CAME OVER TO THE DIAMONDBACKS’ ORGANIZATION?  DID ANYBODY GIVE YOU ANY ADVICE THAT PAID OFF IN THAT BIG YEAR?
The coaches are obviously always there helping me. They always have something that is going to help me out and make me a better player. But I think overall, it was just a lot of me not trying to do too much and sticking to my approach and the coaches are there to work with me and to remind me of my approach and help me with what they see. That obviously helps me.

AS A PROSPECT TRYING TO MAKE THE BIG LEAGUE CLUB, DO YOU LOOK THROUGH THE ORGANIZATION AND CONSIDER THE OTHER PLAYERS AT YOUR POSITION AND WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO GET THERE?
We go to Spring Training together and we play together so we know all the guys in the organization. It’s just one of those things, it’s just a matter of time and we have to keep working and stay focused and hopefully good things play out.

WHEN YOU WERE WITH THE BRAVES, DID YOU LOOK AT IT LIKE YOU WERE A THIRD-BASEMAN WORKING YOUR WAY UP AND CHIPPER JONES WAS GOING TO RETIRE, AND MAYBE THAT COULD BE YOUR SPOT WITH THEM?
I was pretty young when I joined the Braves. Obviously you think like that, that’s the way you want to think, but it’s one of those things where you can’t really control that kind of stuff. You just have to take care of everyday and work hard and play hard every day.  Take control of the things that you can control and I think that that will lead to being the big league player that I want to become.

THE CALIFORNIA LEAGUE IS ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC OFFENSIVE LEAGUES IN THE MINORS. DOES THAT DO ANYTHING TO YOUR APPROACH AT THE PLATE?
I need to stick to my approach and not get too big just because it is a little smaller and the wind is a little better here and it is going to be a way better place to hit at. I’ve just got to stick with my approach and be me and not try to do too much. The fields might play a little smaller than other leagues.

AND THERE IS THE HEAT HERE IN THE SUMMER. ARE YOU READY FOR THAT?
Yeah, I’ve been in Orlando in the middle of the daytime and that is real hot and it is humid too. I like the dry heat better so I’ll be fine.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT ADJUSTING TO A NEW LEAGUE AND A WHOLE NEW SET OF PITCHERS EACH YEAR OR IF YOU’RE PROMOTED MID-YEAR?
It is definitely hard. It’s kind of like in Spring Training; you face a lot of guys you have never seen before. You’ve got to grind those at-bats out at first and really battle because you don’t know what pitches they have and you don’t know their tendencies. But I think as the season goes on,  you feel like you know what pitches they have and their tendencies and you can have a better approach after you have faced guys a couple of times.

But, yeah, the first time you face new pitchers, it’s obviously tough because you don’t really know how they pitch.  At first you kind of have to grind them out and then, the more at-bats you get off of them, obviously, it gets a little easier.

YOU HAD 51 DOUBLES LAST YEAR AND 70 EXTRA-BASE HITS, BIG NUMBERS IN A MINOR LEAGUE SEASON. ARE YOU READY TO DO THAT AGAIN?
Oh yeah. I’m hoping to turn some of those doubles into homers. I’m sticking with my plan, like I said. It is a little better hitter’s league so hopefully I can turn some of those doubles into homers. That’s the plan.

THE DIAMONDBACKS TRADED AWAY A HIGHLY-RATED PROSPECT  AT YOUR POSITION IN MATT DAVIDSON THIS OFFSEASON. THAT CHANGES YOUR WORLD A LITTLE BIT DOESN’T IT?
Yeah, a big-time guy like that gets traded; it obviously opens up a spot for the guys coming up. But it is something that you can’t get too excited about, you just have to be you and play and hopefully everything works out at the end of the day.

BASEBALL AMERICA SAID IN THIS YEAR’S PROSPECT HANDBOOK THAT IT HAD BEEN CONSIDERED TO MOVE YOU OFF OF THIRD BASE, BUT YOUR PERFORMANCE IN 2013 WAS MUCH IMPROVED. DO YOU FULLY EXPECT TO BE A THIRD BASEMAN?
Yes. That’s my position. I’m a third baseman.  I had never heard that. I think maybe some scouts thought that, but I’m a third baseman.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS THIS YEAR?
Numbers-wise, I don’t know. I think a good goal for me this year would be to realize that baseball is such a hard game and you’re not going to get a hit every time. You’re not going to make every single play. So I don’t want to get down or put pressure on myself when I am not succeeding and just try to be as even-keeled as I can. Whether I am playing good or bad, try to be the same every day.

Thanks to Brandon Drury and the Visalia Rawhide for taking the time and making this interview happen.

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