Interview with Jared Prince

Frisco broadcaster Alex Vispoli talked to RoughRiders outfielder Jared Prince about the beginning of this season, Brad Hawpe as a mentor, growing up in Washington, and the secret to making diving catches.

Vispoli: We’re joined by outfielder Jared Prince who homered in Sunday’s game [May 13} against the Corpus Christi Hooks. Jared, first of all congratulations. I know that home run didn’t come at a key spot in the game but sometimes, it’s difficult to keep your concentration late in games like that when the team is down but you managed to do it.

Prince: Yeah you know in that situation, this team, we’re always fighting so any way we can get something going. We didn’t end up doing it but any way you can get something going to come out, even getting some momentum coming into [Monday] helps out.

Vispoli: It almost feels like a loss in a series when the team only wins two out of four. It’s been amazing this team has won every series but the two that they’ve played in Corpus.

Prince: Well yeah. They’re a competitive group over there and we’re a competitive group and we don’t lose that much and we battle. We love to win so you know even when we split, it kind of feels like we lose and that’s usually not the case. That’s probably a good thing I guess.

Vispoli: Does this feel a little bit like the start of the Myrtle season last year when you guys were just tearing up the Carolina League?

Prince: Absolutely, just the formula is right there with the first and foremost the good pitching and good defense behind it and the timely hitting and just a bunch of competitors from the pitchers and position guys all around. It feels a lot like the Myrtle season.

Vispoli: Tell me a little bit about your manager Steve Buechele. He’s in his third year in Double-A. It seems like he does a great job keeping you guys in tune with the game and rotating guys throughout the season. What’s it like playing for Steve?

Prince: Bue is great. He’s very positive and he keeps us going and I mean I have a lot of good to say about Bue so far.

Vispoli: Well another way that this season sort of feels a little bit like last season for you is that it has not gotten off to the strongest start and I saw you last year. I know the kind of ballplayer you’re capable of being and you know the same but what is it about the early part of the season for you that just have a hard time getting going?

Prince: I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. It’s just April and the early part of May is just a tough time for me to kinda get in my groove and once I capture it, though, I ride it and really don’t look back so I’m feeling good and looking to capture that feeling and go with it.

Vispoli: Do you think that maybe part of the reason is because you haven’t been out there every single day because with Brad here, getting him playing time, getting Val playing time, you’re not penciled in there every single day. Is that a little bit of an adjustment for you to make as well?

Prince: Absolutely. Yeah. Last year in Myrtle, off to the slow start but I was in there every day so I kinda got to figure things out and now when I figure something out, maybe I’m down the next day. It’s just an adjustment I got to make and other guys need playing time so when I’m in there, I need to take advantage of the time that I get.

Vispoli: That said, what is it like playing alongside a guy like Brad Hawpe, a player who spent eight years in the big leagues, over a hundred home runs. He’s been a big league all-star the last time he was healthy for a season. He must just be amazing to see the way he goes about his business and someone for you to look up to as a role model.

Prince: Absolutely. Brad is great. I try to pick his brain as much as I can and you know he’s very insightful and yeah he’s a tremendous role model. He’s a great guy first and foremost. He’s just a good dude and he’s been a real treat to have here.

Vispoli: Is there anything specific that you have been able to glean from him?

Prince: Just picking apart his brain. Getting in there about the little things that he does, tricks of the trade, and stuff like that and stuff that has worked for him in the past and currently and stuff that he’s seen guys do. Believe me, I’m all in his brain trying to get as much as I can out of him while he’s here.

Vispoli: Well one thing that I think that you don’t need any help with is the way you dive for balls. You just have made so many highlight catches this year. Engel Beltre has made a lot of the, I think, more graceful ones but I compare you to a grinder, a dirt dog with some of the catches that you make. It seems like whenever you go down near a warning track, there’s a trail of dust kicking up because you’ve landed on it and more often than naught, you’ve come up with a catch.

Prince: Well here’s the secret. I’m going to let you in.

Vispoli: I’m all ears.

Prince: When I was growing up in Washington, me and my dad used to go out when the tide was out. We used to go and dad would hit tennis balls with a tennis racquet and we would dive, me and my brother would dive into tide pools and make diving catches so every time I make a diving catch or something like that, dad said was it really that good of a catch. I said nah. It was just like I’ve done a hundred times on a beach with a tennis ball and tennis racquet.

Vispoli: Sounds a little dangerous. You ever get like a sea urchin or something on the other side?

Prince: You know sometimes there’s crabs and stuff in there you gotta look out for. Sometimes we’d dive on a shell or something like that. We’ve gotten cut up but it was all good fun.

Vispoli: Tell me a little bit about growing up in Washington. You told me you’re a big Seattle Mariners fan. Griffey was your guy, a tough guy to emulate because he’s so special. Was there anything you would watch and try to do exactly like Griffey?

Prince: Well when I was young, I’d do everything like Griffey. I’d do the stance. I’d do the showboat way he used to catch the ball, all that stuff but I just love going to the games. I’m a big homer, big Seahawk guy, a big Sonic guy. Hopefully they come back soon but I just love watching the game and me and dad would play catch every day and hit whiffle balls and stuff like that and you know, make use of growing up in a kind of unusual spot. We’d go down to the water. We’d take batting practice. He’d flip rocks and you know, like I said diving in tide pools and stuff like that so we just kind of, not the traditional way of practicing but we got it done. We practiced.

Vispoli: It sounds like the hard knocks way of trying to catch a fly ball, diving into rocks, catching things in tidal pools. You went to college on the other side of the state at Washington State in Pullman. First of all, what was Pullman like? It’s in the middle of nowhere it seems.

Prince: Yes. It is very in the middle of nowhere. It’s cold. It is about an hour and a half from anything but that also adds a little bit to its charm because you’re in a small town, kind of a feel you don’t get at a lot of schools but it’s very intimate. You can say that but it was a good experience.

Vispoli: What are your thoughts on the Mike Leach hire for the football program?

Prince: Oh gosh, couldn’t have had a better hire there. It’s a great hire. He’s brought a lot of buzz to the program and they’re going to do some good things.

Vispoli: Being on the other side of the state and you’re from the Seattle area, do you get a chance to get back there very often since you finished up there?

Prince: I try to get back to one game a year and I’ve been able to do that the last few years so it’s a long trip over there. It’s five and a half hours so it takes awhile and it’s tough roads and everything like that but yeah, I do try to get over there once a year and catch a game. I got a lot of people over there that I still really like and like to see.

Vispoli: Well Jared congratulations on the home run on Sunday {May 13} and the best of luck out there the next time you’re in the lineup. Thanks for the time.

Prince: Alright, thank you.

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