I always relish the impressions I come away with after interviewing a ball player, especially a young ball player we haven't seen on TV yet. A guy that really blew me away this year was Charlie Morton. He was the first guy I talked to, and boy was he down to earth. Kind of shy, but in a "I want to be your friend" kind of way. He is seriously one of the nicest baseball players I've ever met. At the same time, I can see why he might have struggled some in the minors with his confidence, he comes across as a real timid and unsure person, but very genuine and kind.
Jordan Schafer was a neat guy to talk to. Everything you hear about him being very cock-sure is correct. I would best describe him as very proud to be who he is and where he is - chest out, chin up, very proud. But he's not overly cocky, and he had time for every question I asked and he answered them with great depth. His vanity is a bit funny; he has a big silver chain around his neck with his initials, JS, hung off of it.
Jason Heyward I don't quite know if I got a good read on. I caught up to him after an intersquad game in which he had struck out twice, so he may have been in a bad mood. As you'll see in my interview with him, he was quite short with his answers and doesn't have too much to say (maybe its just that he doesn't have too much to say, yet, being that he's so new to pro ball).
I talked with Gorkys Hernandez, and while I'm always a bit hesitant to talk to Latinos who don't speak the best English, he was quite a pleasant young man. The problem with him and some non-native English speakers is that you can't go into too much depth with them as the language barrier comes into play. Gorkys was a fun one to watch on the field. He hit a ball that was misplayed by the right-fielder and as soon as he saw the misplay he found a new gear between first and second and an even higher gear from second to third - boy is he fast. He's really going to be an exciting player to watch - loads of talent and a good idea of what to do at the plate.
Eric Campbell is an interesting case. I caught up with him and had a nice interview, as I've had several times before, and he certainly seems very into baseball when you talk to him. Then in the inrersquad game he didn't run out an infield grounder, which brought some scorn from a coach or two. His demeanor is not a very energetic one and he doesn't seem to exude effort on the field like a lot of other players do.
The final player I want to talk about is Jeff Locke. Much like Morton, Locke is a talker. I asked him a question and he went on and on and on. He's a real great kid as far as I can tell and he looks real special on the mound.
I made a point to introduce myself to Kurt Kemp, the Braves Director of Player Development - essentially the guy in charge of the minor leagues and drafting new players. He's kind of a scary looking fellow behind his thick mustache, but he's a very pleasant and friendly person, and he took time out of watching the minor leaguers to talk to me and answer my questions. I'm trying to get a leg up on some of the goings-on around the Braves minor league teams, so we'll see if I can get more "scoops" this year.