Today the White Sox set-up a blogger conference call with two of the teams' fastest rising prospects, SS Marcus Semien and RHP Daniel Webb. The duo have been bright spots in what has been a somewhat dismal prospecting season. Due to technical difficulties (my recorder deciding to go Rutger Hauer on me), the first two questions didn't get recorded. But there are notes!
Mark Liptak asked something along the lines of if the roster shakeups on the big league team affected them to which both players gave fairly text book "Just keeping my eyes on what I'm doing down here" kind of answers. Jim then asked about the various positions Semien has been playing. Marcus said he was doing what he was told and paid a nice compliment to Tyler Saladino's defensive strengths at shortstop before saying that his preferred position is shortstop as that's where he's always played and it's where the action's at. Now to the actual transcription.
Mark Liptak: Has anything surprised you about playing in the AAA level?
Marcus Semien: The big difference is just guys are more experienced here and a lot smarter. Pitchers are a lot smarter. They'll throw anything in any count. They're not trying to develop any more like in the lower levels. 2-0 you'd definitely get a fastball away. Now any pitch is fair game in any count, so you have to be patient and learn to hit the right pitches. It's not weird, it's just a new thing to see guys married and have families since they're a lot older. I'm only 22 so that's all new to me.
That was the moment I felt old.
ML: When you made the move up from Birmingham, can it be a little overwhelming?
MS: Nah, it wasn't really overwhelming. The travel day can be a little long and it's a bit hectic, but once you start the game you treat it like any other game and try to just relax out there.
Jim Margalus: Looking at your box scores from back in July, you were on base more than half the time. I'm just wondering if that felt any different for you. How did it feel to be in that kind of zone for a month?
MS: It was a great feeling, seeing the ball that well. Especially as a leadoff hitter, if you're getting on base more than half the time with those hitters behind you, you're going to score a lot of runs and win a lot of games. We won a lot of games at Birmingham and I was happy to contribute in that way.
JM: Was there any moment where it all clicked for you or was it just a general realization that you were on a serious roll?
MS: After the All-Star Break, I really started seeing the ball well. The last 14 games before I got called up I just wasn't swinging at any bad pitches and I was getting most balls into play. It was a really strong stretch and I'm just trying to finish strong here in August and then who knows. Like you said, obviously things in Chicago aren't looking too good, but we're just trying to focus on what we can do at this moment.
ML: When Michael Jordan was on a role, he used to say the basket looked as big as Lake Michigan. When you're on a roll like that does the baseball look bigger to you?
MS: The ball didn't look bigger to me, I was just a lot more confident that I wasn't going to swing at a slider in the dirt. So when you're not swinging at those bad pitches, you get into hitters' counts. Once you get in those hitters' counts, your swing feels good enough that you're not fouling pitches off, you're hitting them hard somewhere. That's kind of what was happening those last 14 games in Birmingham. It's not an easy game so when you're in a groove like that you have to appreciate it and enjoy it and when things aren't going well you do whatever it takes to get back there.
ML: What would your goals be the rest of the season?
MS: Stay consistent, offensively and defensively. Get on base more, score more runs. I want to make the playoffs with two different teams this year.
Kristine Perteet: Growing up, who did you look up to for baseball? Who did you want to be?
A break in the action to link to a new interview club member's site.
MS: I really looked up to Derek Jeter and growing up in the Bay area, I really liked Barry Bonds, more so before all the steroid stuff. I went to a lot of Giants games and rooted for Barry and watched Jeter a lot on TV.