Brewers outfield prospect Lorenzo Cain checked in from Arizona for an interview with us this evening.
The 22-year-old (he turns 23 in April) put together a nice 2008 season split between Brevard County, Huntsville and Nashville (11 homers, 60 RBIs, 71 runs and 25 steals) before taking the Arizona Fall League by storm with a .333 batting average, five home runs, 11 RBIs and a .635 slugging percentage in just 18 games.
He’s looking to build on that success this season with a goal of getting called up to Milwaukee in September.The key, he says, to reaching that objective is continuing to work hard, especially on improving his plate discipline.
Lorenzo, who credits much of his success to the support he receives from his mother, is poised to become one of the Brewers top prospects, already ranking No. 6 in Bernie’s Crew’s Top 25 Prospects, No. 7 in Brew Crew Ball’s Community Prospect Rankings, No. 8 in BrewerFan.net’s Top Prospect Fan Poll, No. 8 in BrewerFan.net’s Power 50 and No. 8 in Between the Green Pillar’s Top 25 Prospects.
You can listen to the interview here:
Alright, this is Jared with Right Field Bleachers and we have Lorenzo Cain on the line. I’m just going to ask a couple of questions. I guess first off, Lorenzo, are you in Arizona? Are you getting ready to head to Spring Training or where are you at right now?
I’m in Arizona right now, getting ready to go, going to the field every day, getting my work in and getting ready for Spring Training.
OK, the Major League team is coming off their first playoff appearance since ’82 and there’s a new manager coming in, what’s the mood like as a Brewer player coming into this season?
It’s always exciting to come here and get ready, so right now I guess everybody is focused on getting better and trying to go a step further from where they went last year.
Personally, for you, do you have any goals coming into this spring?
Yeah, of course I have to handle my job to put up the numbers so I can move forward. My main focus is to put up good numbers and try to be a big league call up in September. That’s my main focus right now.
Most baseball players start playing when they’re in the Little Leagues, but you didn’t start playing baseball until you were in the 10th grade. And now just six or seven years later, you’re one of the top prospects in the Brewers organization. How did you make up for that lost time in your development as a player?
In high school, I had a lot of great coaches and had a lot people who helped me and helped me get better and strive for the best. Just good teaching and just having great people around me to push me and I think I just had to keep working to continue to get better.
And one thing I’ve noticed over the years as you’ve come up through the system, you’ve been quick to credit your mom for helping you succeed on the baseball field and off of it. Can you tell us how important her support has been to you?
She’s very important. She’s always been there for me when times get rough and I’m struggling. She calls my phone to leave me a prayer every day, you know, telling me to always keep God first. So, without her, I really don’t know where I would be. Just to have her beside me pushing me to do my best has been very helpful in my career.
The Brewers chose you as a draft-and-follow pick. Can you talk about how that process played out? Was it a tough decision to sign with Milwaukee in the end or was it something that just worked out great for you?
When I got drafted out of high school with my short time, short experience in baseball, I just decided not to sign because I didn’t think I was ready personally to go from high school ball to start my minor-league career. So, I decided to just go to college and get more experience and once I got more experience and got a little better, I decided to sign.
And it’s worked out so far for you, huh?
Uh huh, it’s working out well.
You built on a nice 2008 season this fall by going down to the Arizona Fall League and turning a lot of heads, hitting .333 with five home runs in just 18 games. Can you talk about your experience down there? How was that for you?
It was a great experience. I was happy to be able to go to the Fall League. I’m glad they allowed me to go. Just being around those guys, it was a great group of guys to be around.
I just enjoyed myself and tried to have fun and not really take it too serious, but I wanted to allow myself to have fun and just enjoy the moment. So, like I said, I had a good Fall League and I’m glad I decided to go.
I’ve read that you’ve been working on developing more plate discipline and patience at the plate. Is that an area of your game that you’re really concentrating most on improving?
Yeah, right now. I’m just trying to keep my same level of skills up and improve my plate discipline because that’s really, really hurt me in the past. So, I’ve been working on it and seeing pitches and trying to get deeper in counts and I think that will allow me to get better. So, like I said, I just have to continue to work and just go from there.
You’ve played both centerfield and rightfield quite a bit in the minors. Which do you prefer? Do you have a preference?
Not really. Right, center, anywhere they want to put me in the outfield I’ll play. So, it’s completely up to them.
Have they given you any indication which position you’ll be playing this season?
Right now, I’ve been practicing at centerfield so I think centerfield is probably my position now until I’m told otherwise.
You’re probably talked about more for your offensive potential, but you’re pretty good with the glove too. Have you worked a lot on that part of your game as well?
I’m big on defense. Every day in BP, I try to go out and work hard, fielding groundballs, trying to run down balls and take correct routes on balls. I try to work hard every day on my defense because the Brewers are big on defense so I’ll try to continue to get better and just focus on that a lot more than offense sometimes.
And have the Brewers told you where you’ll be starting out this season as far as Huntsville or Nashville?
No, they haven’t given me any indication right now so I guess we’ll see after Spring Training.
You were called up to Nashville for a little while last year. What was that experience like playing at the AAA level?
That was fun. It was a short, fun experience. I learned a lot in that short period of time, how to recognize pitches a lot better and learn how to hit older guys, face better pitchers, guys who spot up a lot better than at the lower levels. So, that was very big for me, a big help for me.
And as you’ve moved up through the levels in the minor leagues, have you noticed that the pitching has been quite a bit better at each level?
Yeah, guys are better at each level. So, I’m just trying to stay on my game and continue to get better so I can compete with those guys.
The Brewers minor-league system is pretty loaded with talent and you’ve played with some of the top prospects in the system, who do you think has been the most impressive player you’ve had a chance to play with?
I’d have to say Alcides Escobar. He’s a very exciting player. He’s a playmaker. He’s a guy that goes out and goes hard every day and he’s very fun to watch.
Alcides and a few of the other guys in the system are on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues, is it exciting for you that if you’re able to make it up to Milwaukee that you’ll probably be playing with guys that you were teammates with in the minors?
Yeah, that’s always fun to go up with guys that you’ve been with through your whole minor-league career. So, just being able to know someone and go up there and share that experience with them is very, very great.
You mentioned that your goal this year is to be a September call up. What do you think you have to do as a player to get to that point so you can prove to the Brewers that you’re ready to move up to the big leagues?
I think I just have to continue to just keep doing what I’m doing and maybe add a few more home runs and definitely work on my plate discipline and draw more walks. I think if I can just continue to do that, I’ll be fine.
Is there a guy that you’ve played with in the minors that’s a little bit more under the radar that you think can make some noise in the Brewers system this season?
Uh, I can’t think of any off the top of my head right now, not any that I can think of right now.
Alright, well, it’s hard when so many of them are so well known already, huh?
Oh yeah, we have a great group of guys.
OK, well, is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything else you think Brewers fans should know about you?
Um, no, that’s about it. I’m going to go out and bring some more intensity and we’ll just go from there and see what happens.
OK, well, good luck this season and good luck in Spring Training and hopefully we’ll see you up in Milwaukee later on this year.
Alright, thanks for having me.