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Q&A with Atlanta Braves Outfield Prospect Robby Hefflinger

Atlanta Braves outfield prospect Robby Hefflinger
Atlanta Braves outfield prospect Robby Hefflinger

In case you missed the big news last week, Atlanta Braves outfield prospect Robby Hefflinger will be joining Talking Chop this season. He'll keep a weekly diary throughout the year, giving us a peek into his world -- the world of a minor league baseball player. We'll follow him through the highs and lows of the season.

Here is a Q&A I did with him last week during spring training. I hope you enjoy it, and we should have Robby's first submission towards the end of this week.

Q: Tell us a little about your road to professional baseball.

A: I was signed to UGA out of high school to be a pitcher, and stuff didn't really work out there, because of over-recruitment. I wasn't really forced to go to Junior College, but I didn't want to sit out a year and get red-shirted. I went to Georgia-Perimeter in Covington and everything worked out really great. I actually worked on pitching there and thought it would be my ticket out, but I had a great year hitting. Everybody at Perimeter helped me out. I was supposed to go back to Georgia after one year of Junior College, and I had some of the coaches and players helping me out making the decision as to whether to go back or get drafted. Fortunately it all worked out for the best.

Q: How did it feel to get drafted by the Braves?

A: It was amazing. Doing all the workouts before [the draft], I kind of knew the Braves were looking at me. They were basically the only team that wanted me to hit, the other teams wanted me to pitch. It was a shock to get drafted that early, so I was real excited.

Q: Which do you prefer, pitching or hitting?

A: Definitely hitting, playing everyday. If there ever came a time when I couldn't hit, I'd love to try and pitch again, but until that time comes... or hopefully it doesn't. Pitchers run too much.

Q: Did you make a lot of friends last year when you went to Danville?

A: Oh yeah, our whole team was pretty close. We had five guys in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, so we got pretty close. It was Myke Jones, Jace Whitmer, Chris Masters, and Matt Crim. Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, he's probably one of my better friends on the team. He came up to my house in the off-season and hung out. It's like college friends, but in a baseball atmosphere, it's very enjoyable.

Q: It sounds like you're all going to move up to Rome together?

A: Yeah, that's going to be amazing. Everybody was a instructs together, everybody's down here together, we're always together and it's always close.

Q: Talk about last year, you started off kind of hot and then cooled towards the end.

A: People ask me, "was it what you expected." Yeah, it was all of what I expected. The pitching was just phenomenal, but I think one of the biggest factors was because of the long bus rides I stopped working out. When my body started getting physically tired I stared getting mentally weak and tired. But this year's going to be totally different because I know what I have to do. I know I'm going to have go play 140 games instead of playing 25 high school games where I can slack off a little in the weight room and get by, and that's one of the huge adjustments I'm going to have to make.

Q: Did you prepare yourself this off-season any differently?

A: Yeah, I worked out with Micah Owings and Jon-Mark, and their oldest brother is a personal trainer, and I worked out with them everyday -- [the trainer] just busts our tail. They are great guys and they helped me out so much growing up in Gainsville. Every time I wanted to hit or throw they were always there to help me out, so I'm blessed to have them help in the off-season.

Q: Did you know them before you signed with the Braves?

A: Yes. I didn't transfer to Gainsville until my ninth grade year and I started getting really close to Jon-Mark in the tenth grade. This off-season is the second year I've known Micah, but I got to know him, we hung out and stuff.

Q: Were you a fan of the Braves growing up?

A: Yeah, here and there, and I went to Braves games, but I always liked football better growing up.

Q: How was your experience the other day when you got called up to play in a Major League spring training game?

A: It was awesome. It was really fun. I got a real taste for what it's like to live that life. It makes you not want to be down here, [up there] that's just like first class.

Q: Did it feel good to get a hit in the game?

A: Yeah. I didn't really square it up, but a hit's a hit. That was the best pitcher I've every faced in my life. He had some nasty stuff. I was just really excited, and my girlfriend and my dad were there, so they were really excited too.

Q: Do you have any goals for this season?

A: Just getting another ring, like the one I got at Danville. Individual goals, you know I don't really set any for myself. I have expectations, but my goal every at-bat is just to hit the ball hard. If I do that three or four times a game, then I'm happy.

I hope you enjoyed this Q&A, and stay tuned for more from Robby throughout the year.

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