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SCHROCK Value! Nico Catches Up With A’s Prospect

Max Schrock is ranked No. 10 on our Community Prospect List.

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Scottsdale Scorpions at Mesa Solar Sox
The journey to the Hall of Fame begins with a single step...
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nico: There’s a couple things that intrigue me about you. One thing is, your contact rates are pretty elite, actually, basically rarely striking out. And I’m curious, first of all, if that’s a skill where you can point to something and say "this is how I do it"? Because let’s face it, most minor leagues players, even with great pedigree, don’t have the contact skills that you have. How do you do that?

Schrock: (laughs) It’s probably just more of a mindset. I take striking out very personal; I don’t like to do it at all. I’m 5’8" 150 pounds, so it’s not my job to hit homeruns, it’s my job to get on base, and I can’t do that when I’m striking out. So it’s just something that I take personal and I (pause)…I just don’t like striking out.

Nico: Now one way to avoid striking out, of course, is to swing early in the count and put the ball in play – that actually does not lead you to a lot of walks or a high on base percentage. So how do you balance that nuance?

Schrock: It’s probably something that I actually need to work on. I think sometimes I am a bit too over-aggressive. I need to sometimes focus in on, earlier in the counts and when I’m ahead in counts, maybe selecting a better pitch so that I can hit more doubles, some more extra base hits. I need to be a little more selective, but I don’t want that to take away from my aggressiveness, I don’t want to get passive. So it’s kind of like finding that happy medium.

Nico: Just going back to – I won’t go back to T-ball, but like Little League, is this something that’s always been a part of you? Or is this something recent?

Schrock: Yeah, it’s always been, "I don’t like to strike out." In my mind it’s always been like, "You can’t help your team if you’re striking out." There’s no possible good result from striking out. You can get out and have productive outs, but striking out isn’t one of them.

Nico: I’ll bet you never struck out in T-ball.

Schrock: Hmm…That’s a long time ago, I don’t even remember. (After the interview I looked up Schrock’s T-ball stats on Fangraphs and his K-rate was indeed impressive.)

Nico: Your "hit tool" is probably what moves you up, (and) defense is what’s going to make it possible. How would you analyze your defense – I’ve actually seen a range of scouting reports, so it’s very hard, on paper, to get a sense of who you are, say, as a second baseman – what’s your own assessment of your strengths and weaknesses?

Schrock: I mean like you said, probably my hit tool is my strongest tool. Since I’ve been in pro ball I feel like I have improved my defense a lot from my time in college. And I have to give a lot of credit to the infield coordinator with Washington. He got me in a good place mentally and physically where I was comfortable, more comfortable than I had ever been, and I don’t think of my defense as a weakness by any means. But it’s something I obviously still need to work on every day and something that – I don’t want people to look at me and say "Oh, he can’t play defense, he can only hit…" so it’s something I’ve worked very hard on since I’ve been in pro ball.

Nico: So what specifically has improved? Like when you said that you give a lot of credit to your infield (coordinator), that he improved you a lot, what is it that has improved?

Schrock: There was some footwork stuff and there was some physical stuff but it’s also just from a confidence standpoint getting to the point where I’ve taken so many reps, once I get into the game I don’t have to think about it because I know that I’ve laid the foundation, I’ve done my work, something I don’t even need to think about when I’m in the game because I know that it’s going to be there.

Nico: So at this point, what do you say you feel that you do best, what ways do you contribute defensively?

Schrock: I think I move pretty well. I think that my biggest thing is that I just need to make all the routine plays and the great plays will come and that’s something you don’t need to worry about. But I pride myself on making the routine plays.

Nico: You know, the A’s value versatility so a lot of guys now are playing 2-3 positions. If you were moving around, if (the A’s) were saying "Wow, we like the hit tool, we already have someone – let’s say someone emerges at second base – can you describe your comfort level, and also experience at other positions, like 1B, LF, what would work best?

Schrock: I mean I’ve never played 1B before, but I started probably between 10-15 games in LF my Junior year at South Carolina. So I’ve played the outfield – (laughs) I’d probably have to take a few fly balls out there to feel comfortable, but – that’s something that’s not foreign to me. And I was a shortstop in high school, and I played some 3B when I was in college too. And that was another thing that the infield coordinator stressed over in Washington was that we all moved around – for every drill we took our balls everywhere (editor’s note: well gosh, I would hope so), so yeah I would feel comfortable playing other positions for sure.

Nico: Last question is just getting a little bit of a personal flavor about your personality, who you are, because fans understandably –

Schrock: (laughing) Yeah, yeah –

Nico: – because we’re gonna watch you all year –

Schrock: – yeah, of course –

Nico: – can you give us a little glimpse of who you are as you see it?

Schrock: Yeah I’m pretty easy going. During the off-season I like to fish, I like to play video games – you know, the standard stuff every kid likes to do.

Nico: Personality? If you were on or something (laughing at the stupidity of what I just said), how would you say, "This is who I am"?

Schrock: Hmm…I’m the guy who would be outgoing, who was cracking jokes, but I’d like to think that most of the people in there (the clubhouse) would say that I’m pretty reserved, pretty quiet for the time being. But I have some jokes in me too that I can break out every once in a while.

Nico: And when you fish, do you also hate to strike out?

Schrock: Yeah that’s a big thing, and most of the time I’m going fishing I’m going with my fiancée and she ends up catching more than me, so that always goes over well – I hear about that for a week after we’re done.

After we stopped the recording, I admitted to Schrock, "Off the record, I’m irrationally high on you as a prospect." His reply: "Thanks!" and then…"I hope you’re right."