Last month I did a small piece about the early season production from our prospect catchers. The article highlighted the growth and development of the Tigers young catchers. An organization that was once notoriously paper thin behind the dish now features several interesting prospects. Sunday evening one of those prospects, Rob Brantly, was kind enough to chat with me for a brief Q&A session.
Rob Brantly was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft. This season the All-Star backstop is batting .308 with 10 doubles, 4 homers and 30 RBI for the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Follow the jump for some excerpts from our conversation…
JAYRC: Who has been the biggest influence on your baseball career?
Rob Brantly: The biggest influence on my baseball career definitely has to be my father and my grandfather. Both of them taught me to really love and appreciate playing this game. My grandfather really taught me how to play the game with a passion.
JAYRC: Have you had any favorite coaches or mentor along the way?
RB: Yeah, definitely, I’ve had quite a few, especially one that I just left from UC Riverside. Coach Doug Smith was a big inspiration and a big influence on me when I played for him. He was a guy that I loved to play for and I loved to win for him. Another coach was Joe DePastino, he was amazing. When it came to introducing me to professional baseball, he really helped me with the transitions that I needed to make.
JAYRC: Yeah, Joe’s name seems to comes up a lot when I ask that question. He must be pretty awesome.
Speaking about making the transition, How has the adjustment gone from you? You’re obviously hitting the heck out the ball but how different is college ball from pro ball?
RB: I would say it does have a big difference aside from, you know, I mean you only play a couple of days a week in college baseball and here it picks up on you pretty quick. You start playing everyday and the days seem to blend together. You kinda have to really separate that and learn to take things day by day. You need to kinda clear your head if you have a bad day and be able to move on quick.
JAYRC: A catcher is a very tough position to analyze because of all that goes into the defensive part of the game. What are your best attributes behind the plate and what are some things that you’re trying to improve this year?
RB: As a catcher, I can throw a baseball pretty well down to second base and controlling a running game is something I’ve been pretty good at throughout my career. As far as what I need to work on, pitch calling and developing a strategy and kinda like seeing things in the batters box as far as batters adjustments and calling pitches during the game. Those would probably be the things I’m learning right now.
JAYRC: Do you have any favorite pitchers that you like to catch for right now? You have a lot of hard throwing relievers up there. Is there anyone that you get excited to see take the hill?
RB: I love each and everyone of my pitchers on the pitching staff and I try to work best with all of them. It’s always exciting though when you get the big closer up there. You got Bruce Rondon throwing a hundred and you get really amped up. You have to really dial it in and catch his heat!
JAYRC: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
RB: My favorite baseball player growing up would have to be Mickey Mantle. My grandfather always kept videos of the older baseball players playing . I kinda grew up watching those videos and I love to watch that guy play.
JAYRC:What are some of the things away from the game that you like to do for fun when you do have one of those rare off days?
RB: I like to get off my feet, so I’m a big movie goer. It lets me sit down for a while and gives the legs a little rest. The movies kinda help me take my mind off things too.
A special thanks to Rob Brantly for taking the time out of his busy day to answer my questions. I wish him the best of luck this season and on his journey to the show.