What were your expectations for yourself coming in as a freshman? Did you think you’d be playing this well this early?
“I had a lot of confidence coming in after playing travel ball all of these years and seeing the caliber of pitching I have (faced). I don’t think anybody comes into a season expecting to hit .560 or whatever the number is. I try not to look up there. I knew I was going to be successful. I didn’t know if it was going to be a hit a game or a long ball a game. I didn’t know what it was and right now it’s being on base with a high on-base percentage and being on base for those other guys to drive me in. I can’t complain about that.”
What’s been your approach towards batting with two strikes that’s helped you be so successful this season?
“It’s something I worked on over the fall season. I was falling down taking a lot of big swings in the hole with two strikes and you can’t do that at this level. Obviously you get comfortable and you start controlling the barrel a little better and your confidence gets to where you’re sitting dead red and you know you’re not going to miss. You can open it up a little bit. That’s just something I’ve been working on cutting down the swing with two strikes. I’ve got Cody Stubbs behind me. If I’m not going to do it then I’m confident in him doing it. All you’ve got to do is find the hole. You don’t have to drive a gap. You don’t have to do any of that so it’s just choking up and putting the ball in play.”
Have you been working on cutting down your swing?
“Basically, I’m just up there and putting a little bit more pressure on myself in practice and in scrimmage games. It’s something where you can’t go up there and open up your stance a little bit, get a high leg kick, and get big separation with your hands. You’ve got to stay nice and quiet up there and look for something over the plate and try to stay back on it.”
How do you feel about batting cleanup behind a player like Colin Moran?
“I’m very comfortable with the four hole. I was very comfortable with the seven hole. Anywhere where I can honestly just help the team. It sounds like a freshman answer but with all these guys in this lineup it’s not going to matter. I’m sure not disappointed to be hitting behind Moran or Stubbs or even Michael Russell now creeping up there. It’s a lineup that’s stacked and wherever I get up there every day to swing and contribute, it feels good. A lot of confidence is instilled in me for Coach Fox to leave me in that spot. It’s a little attributed to my ability to switch hit and break up that lefty to lefty mix up.”
Despite this hot start, do you still feel like you have work to do to improve?
“Absolutely. It’s exactly what it is. It’s more on my left side. I’ve got to stay behind the baseball with my backside and my head and let the ball get deeper. The hits I’ve been getting I’ve been able to use my hands, which God blessed me with. I’ve got to continue to get better staying behind the baseball and that’s off speed and fastballs. I can take myself out of the fastball count. I can take myself out with an off speed changeup, curveball you name it.”
You've been hitting the ball hard, but don't have a home run yet. Have you tried to get one in any particular game so far this season?
“There are certain counts where you get a little bit bigger absolutely. Obviously with any 3-1 count or 2-1 count you’re looking for something to sit dead red on and turn and burn on. To be honest with you I’m sticking with the mentality of just line drives. It’s come across a little bit when I’ve had two hits early in a game or a hit early on in the game. I’m saying to myself, 'We’re up a few runs so let’s see what I can do with the stick here.' I’d say that’s probably come across my mind one time.
I think it was two games ago against Stony Brook in that Sunday game but that’s the only time. I hit a lot in the fall but I know it will come with time.”
What are you looking forward to most about the Houston College Classic this weekend at Houston's Minute Maid Park?
“Just that. We’re going to play three really good teams. As a hitter I’m going to go down there and we’re going to see a lot of good arms. We’re going to see some guys who can swing the stick. Mostly for me coming in as a freshman this is what you look forward to coming to play Division 1 baseball. You want to play the Rice’s, the Texas’s, California teams…You name it. It’s going to be a big trip for us. It’s going to be a good test to see how our offense stacks up this year and where it compares to the rest of the country. I’m just looking out there to see some live arms, see some good velocity and we’re going to see some good stuff on the mound. Just continue to put the bat on the ball like we have been. Like I said earlier, go at bat to at bat and game to game. We keep doing that and keep our heads down and we keep putting up 17, 16 ,15 runs then we’ll be fine.”
Have you played in a major league park before?
“I have. I’ve had the opportunity to play at Turner Field down in Atlanta and Pepco Park out in California. I still get excited to go play at any park. I don’t think any kid is not excited to go play at a big league field.”
Playing on the road is different than playing at home in Boshamer Stadium. Is there anything extra you need to do to make sure you keep playing at a high level?
“I’m not a real big superstitious guy. I do some things consciously with putting on the uniform but nothing too wacky or out of control. In high school, away games were always my better games. I feel like I heighten my sense of urgency up at the dish and out there on the field when I’m away. I think it’s just been something since I was little. I get excited to travel a little bit. You can get complacent at home and I’m looking forward to going to Houston and putting up some more numbers.”