One of the Tigers top picks from the 2012 draft, Austin Schotts has gotten off to a tremendous start to his 2012 season. So far in 22 games with the Gulf Coast League Tigers, Schotts has hit .388 with an OPS of .977. On top of that the third round pick out of high school in Texas has 11 steals in 13 attempts, all while learning a new position. I asked Austin about the position switch among other thing in a recent interview, as he was gracious enough to take some time out and answer some questions for me.
A big thanks goes to Erin Schotts for connecting me with Austin, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know one of the Tigers more talented youngsters just a little better.
JV: Austin, you were drafted by the Tigers in the 3rd round. How did it feel to get the call from the Tigers, and were you expecting to be drafted that high? Were the Tigers one of the teams that showed interest in you before the draft?
AS: I had decided that if I wasn’t drafted in the first three rounds I was going to go to Oklahoma State and play baseball. I wasn’t actually picked until the end of the third round so when my name was called I was beyond excited. I got the call from the Tigers about five minutes after it was announced on the computer. There were a lot of teams that showed interest. I had been to many pre draft workouts right before the draft so I really wasn’t sure what team had the most interest. I couldn’t be happier that the Tigers believed in me enough to draft me! I have loved everything so far and couldn’t feel any more blessed.
JV: To this point in your career, who would you say has had the biggest influence on your baseball career?
AS: My dad has definitely had the biggest influence on my baseball career. He taught me most everything I know. Of course there are all the coaches from little league through high school that have been a big part of my life too.
JV: You played SS on your high school team if I am correct. What has the transition been like for you to CF in pro ball, and how is that going? What do you find is the most difficult aspect of the switch?
AS: I have played shortstop my whole life so centerfield is a whole new experience. Reading the ball off the bat is just a little different. I do miss the fast pace of being in the infield, but if the Tigers feel that I am most useful in center than I am just happy to be on the field playing.
JV: Who are some of your favorite players growing up, and if you had to pick a guy who you model your game after, who would that be?
AS: There are so many great players. I have never modeled my game after anyone really but I will say that I like watching clips of guys like Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson because they were very aggressive in their running game and I feel like I am too. I have never modeled my hitting after anyone either. I just want to be a great hitter.
JV: Okay, I imagine that since you grew up in Texas, high school football was a big part of your life as well? How crazy are people for football in Texas really? We like it here in Michigan too, but I’ve always imagined it’s another level in Texas.
AS: Texas football is insane. People in Texas eat and breathe football. I got to play for 4 years in Texas because I moved to Texas my freshman year of high school. I had so much fun playing! The intensity was great. I actually never knew if I would play football or baseball in college. After my senior football season I decided that I was going to play baseball only.
JV: Since you were just drafted out of high school, the past couple of months have to be pretty crazy for you. Maybe exciting and a little scary at the same time. Not many people start their professional careers when they are 18 years old. What do you think has been the biggest adjustment being a couple months removed from high school? Is it mom’s (or dad’s) cooking?
AS: That is so funny that you asked that about mom and dad’s cooking because seriously that is probably the biggest thing I miss! My family is all about eating! My grandma would never let anyone leave the house without being stuffed! People come over and go directly to the kitchen. Other than that, playing every day is different. It is much harder physically that a couple games a week. Not that I am complaining because I love it! As far as the past couple months have gone, it has been an experience. I missed graduation because I was in California at a pre draft workout, flew back home right before the draft, was drafted June 5th and left for Florida June 12th. I was never scared because this is what I have always worked for and my dream was actually happening. I was ready the second I heard my name called!
JV: Playing in the Gulf Coast League, most of the guys are relatively young like yourself. Have there been any teammates in particular that you’ve hit it off with? What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t at the facility either playing or working?
AS: I couldn’t be any happier that the tigers picked the guys that they did! I get along with everyone really well. I would say that the guy that I have become closest to is Drew Longley who is one of our catchers. When I am not playing you can usually find me in our lounge playing ping pong.
JV: If you have an iPod? What does your music selection consist of?
AS: I have all kinds of music on my phone. I can listen to rap one song, country one song, rock one song. I was raised with every kind of music on Earth. When my brother and I were younger our dad used to quiz us on music when we were in the car. He likes Neil Young, Foreigner, Eagles, Led Zeppelin and music like that. So we got pretty good at knowing all the songs that he listened to growing up. On the way to games I listen to anything that pumps me up and motivates me.
JV: What would you say is your strength on the baseball diamond?
AS: I think my greatest tool is my speed and getting to balls that some people can’t get to. I also think hitting is one of my strengths.
JV: Lastly, since this is one of the first opportunities you have to introduce yourself to Tigers fans. Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself?
AS: I just feel so blessed to call myself a Tiger. I am so glad that so many people have reached out to show me support on Twitter. I appreciate it more than you know. I will be working my hardest every day to make you all proud and hope that I can climb the ladder quickly. Thank you for making my transition to professional baseball the most amazing experience ever.
JV: Thanks again for taking the time. Good luck on the rest of the season, and I can tell you that our readers will appreciate it.
AS: Thank you! I just hope you know how much I appreciate your support and you taking the time to get to know me. Best of luck to you too.