Friday, December 14, 2012

Player Interview: Mark Donato, 1B, AZ Royals (Rookie Level, Arizona League)

Now that the Legends are affiliated with the Kansas City Royals (at least for the next 4 years), I've been getting to know the KC system. And let me tell you: there's a TON of talent in this organization. Newly-drafted 1B Mark Donato is one of their most recent draftees, and he definitely fits the Kansas City mold. Despite what the record states in terms of wins and losses in recent years (ahem!), this is one team that knows real talent when they see it. I had a chance to speak with Mark for a moment about his experiences in this, his first year as a pro, and I'd like to share it with my fellow Legends fans as the first of what I hope will be many "getting to know your minor league organization" type entries here at TGOG.

Mark Donato
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 6' 2", Weight: 225 lb.
Born: November 18, 1991 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (Age 21)
Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 26th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft from Indian River Community College (Fort Pierce, FL).

Minors Batting

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(Thank you, Baseball Reference. You rock.)

1. Had you any thoughts as to who would be drafting you? Was it surprising to go when and where you did?

I knew there were a few teams interested in drafting me; I just didn't know who wanted me the most. I was expecting to go somewhere (between) 10th through 20th rounds, but when I heard my name called in the 26th round by the Royals it was the best feeling ever.

2. After starring as both a first baseman and a pitcher for Ss. Neumann-Goretti High, were you happy with becoming exclusively a position player after turning pro?

I stopped pitching when I got to college; that was the coach's choice, he wanted me at 1st base to supply some power to the team.

3. You're now part of an organization which has had a very strong talent pool in the minors in recent years. How do you see yourself matching up against other prospects in the KC system?

I always thought I was able to compete with the best ever since I was a little kid (emphasis added-ed.), now that I'm able to do that in the minor leagues it's a dream come true.

4. You were thrown right into the thick of it when you got to the Arizona League. What was the toughest part of being such a vital part of a pro lineup?

At first it was shocking that I was batting 3rd and playing 1st in my first pro baseball game, but I knew I worked for that spot and earned my chance to do that.

5. What is your impression of the differences between pro ball and your time as an amateur, thus far?

I noticed that only the great players on your high school team make it to play college ball, and only the best players on your college team make it to play pro ball, so as of now it's gonna take great dedication and motivation to make it to the big leagues. I noticed as a hitter how the holes in the infield and outfield got smaller as I moved from college to the professional level.

6. What would you say is your greatest strength as a player? Greatest weakness?

I would say power is my greatest strength as a player and speed would be my weakness.

7. Do you have a specific routine on game days? How do you prep for game time?

I like to make sure I'm fully prepared hitting-wise with getting enough swings in before the game.

8. Lexington, KY is KC's newest affiliate, a team who had been in the Astros system for 12 years, and so the fans are just becoming accustomed to rooting for a new team and a new league altogether. How do you feel about the prospect of being a big part of Legends fans' indoctrination into the Royals family?

I hope to play in Lexington soon and maybe entertain them with some long balls (laughs).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Player Interview: Dan Gamache, 2B, West Virginia Power (Class A, South Atlantic League, Pittsburgh Pirates)

DEC 10th, 2012-I had the opportunity recently to speak with Pirates 2B prospect Dan Gamache, and after seeing him play here against our Legends several times this past season I'm certainly happy to have had the chance to do so. Never did I see him on the field or at the plate without a smile on his face or a noticeable energy and passion for the game. Watching players like Gamache is always a joy for me, and a reminder that there are still players out there who are fans of the game. You'd be surprised how many of them aren't.

Daniel Joseph Gamache
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 5' 11", Weight: 190 lb.
Born: November 20, 1990 in Newport, Rhode Island, US (Age 22)
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 6th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from Auburn University (Auburn, AL).

So you had quite a number of honors bestowed upon you as an amateur, but would you say there was one in particular that meant more than the rest?
My favorite honor I got as an amateur would have to be being named the MVP in the Capital City Classic my junior year at Auburn against Alabama. It doesn't get better than that game when it comes to regular season college games.
When the time came for the draft, was there a particular team which showed early interest in drafting you, or did you have a preconceived notion as to where you would end up?
There were several teams that I was confident would be taking me, but I would have to say that I had the most confidence that the Pirates would take me first.
Coming up as a third baseman and now having shifted to second, have you had much difficulty in making the transition?
It was definitely difficult at first transitioning from a corner position to the middle. I didn't realize the responsibility that came with second but with reps in practice and actually playing in games I have become way more comfortable there.
What would you say is your greatest asset, on the field?
I'd say that my greatest asset on the field would have to be my bat. I have always felt comfortable making necessary adjustments at the plate physically and with my approach.
How does the atmosphere in a pro clubhouse, with many different players from across the US and surrounding countries, differ from the feel of college or high school?
The pro clubhouse is very different at first from the college ranks. In college its more of a team atmosphere with everyone kind of focusing on winning games and working together as a team. In pro ball everyone has the same goal, to get to the big leagues. This makes everyone work together as well but it has a different feel from college.
If there was one coach or instructor you could take with you throughout your pro career, who would it be and why?
The one instructor I could take through my professional career with me would have to be my hitting coach that I've worked with since I was 8 years old, Jon Burke. He knows my swing and me better than anyone I've ever been coached by and I am able to call him for advice or just to talk whenever I need.
What has been the hardest adjustment for you since you went pro?
Worst moment on the field since being a pro has to be when I struck out three times in a game last season in West Virginia, just felt plain helpless. Best moment for me is my first home run that came in State College my first year.
Do you follow a special routine on game days?
I wouldn't call the routine that I have on game day special. Its not even planned out really, it just kind of happens. On the way to the field i will pick up a couple of energy drinks, usually crush one of those on the way to the field, get my early work in before BP, take BP, take in and out, take a shower, and listen to music at my locker while downing the other energy drink before pre-game stretch.
Who has been the toughest pitcher/batter you've seen, to this point?
Toughest pitcher that I've faced to now is Jose Fernandez. Kid's got talent. (Ed. note-he ain't kidding.)
If you had to leave the game tomorrow, what would you most like to do?
If I left the game as a player tomorrow I would without a doubt be a coach somewhere.