As part of Brewerfan.net's 2nd annual FanFest, I was able to sit down with both Tom Wilhelmsen & Prince Fielder. It is always a distinct pleasure to meet these individuals, as you have the opportunity to learn about the character of these players beyond their obvious talents on the field. Prince Fielder is no exception, and while it's well known what he can do with the bat, young Prince is out to prove that he isn't just a one dimensional player by working hard to improve his defense at first base, learning to remain patient at the plate while following the dream to follow in his father's footsteps on his quest to play in the big leagues.
Brewerfan.net (BF): First of all I have to ask if you're aware of Brewerfan.net?
Prince Fielder (PF): I've heard of it, but I haven't checked it out.
BF: Tell us a little about yourself off the field.
PF: I like to hang out, watch a lot of TV. I'm kind of lazy, I just chill......
BF: Do you play any of the video game consoles such as Playstation 2?
PF: Yeah, XBox.
BF: Do you have a favorite game that you play?
PF: Not really, but mostly baseball games, I play those.
BF: Do you create yourself to see how well you hit?
PF: Yeah I do that, always.
BF: How many home runs have you hit so far?
PF: I haven't started the season yet. I don't know why. I usually start a season every year.
BF: I talked to Tom Wilhelmsen before the game and he told me that Rage Against the Machine fires him up before he pitches. Is there any music you listen that gets you pumped up?
PF: I like 50 Cent.
BF: A lot has been made about the obvious connection to your father and how you grew up in a big league clubhouse. What do you think is the biggest advantage from having that experience?
PF: Just seeing what all the hard work gets you. That's the best place you ever want to be, in the big leagues. I just saw how life could be once I make it there. That keeps you motivated, it keeps you working hard. Plus I know what the perks are when you get there, it's so much easier. That helps me know that all the hard work does pay off once you get there.
BF: Were your father's teammates particularly helpful to you? Was there one player that reached out to you more so than others?
PF: Not really baseball-wise, baseball was fun to me but I wasn't that serious about it (when I was younger). Tony Phillips was just like another kid, so we always wrestled. I was the same size as him when I was 12, so we were a pretty even match. So we would always hang out, play catch, whatever. But baseball was never really that serious, it was more like I was having fun, just being a kid. I'd take batting practice. I liked playing it, it was just fun. I was more excited about the pizza after the game than the actual game.
BF: Who are some of the players you looked up to?
PF: Mo Vaughn. He played my position, and he's kind of the same build as me. I just looked up to him because that's the type of player I want to be.
BF: Last summer at Ogden it got to the point where you were either walking or hitting a home run. At that point, did you know it was time for you to get moved up to Beloit?
PF: I don't know. I felt that if they were going to move me they could have have then because I felt I was hitting the ball pretty good. I didn't know they were going to do it, but if they were it was the time to do it.
BF: So you could have stayed there and kept on hitting?
PF: Yeah, I could have stayed.
BF: A lot has been made about your defense at first base and how you have been working hard to improve in that area. What are the things you're working on and are you happy with your progress?
PF: Yeah, I'm just actually working on taking more ground balls. Growing up, that wasn't the main focus I guess for me because I was all about hitting. People showed me how to take them (ground balls), but nobody ever really sat down with me and actually showed me how to catch a ground ball. At first I would just block them and let the pitcher cover first base, so I was just shown how to block I wasn't shown how to field. I just figured if I blocked it, I did my job, for me all I thought I had to do was to walk over & touch the bag. Now I realize you have to be more agile, sometimes you have to catch & throw to it second (etc.). So right now I'm working on taking ground balls the right way.
BF: Who is the most influential person coaching you defensively?
PF: I think the whole Milwaukee organization, as soon as I started rookie ball, as soon as I got there they started helping me with that right away. So everyone in general, the whole organization, was influential about that.
BF: A lot has also been made about your conditioning and how you hired your high school coach to serve as your personal trainer. You look to be in great shape right now; what are some of the things you work on such as cardio, weights, etc.?
PF: Yeah, I do a lot of cardio. Actually it was just eating a little better. I never really ate bad, I would eat all the time, but I would never move. So I never really ate bad, I just started moving now.
BF: So you weren't doing anything to burn it off?
PF: Exactly, nothing at all. I started doing a lot of cardio & lifting a lot of weights.
BF: We heard that you turned a lot of heads during spring training with your hitting ability, how was that experience?
PF: It was a lot of fun up there. I kind of felt like I was back with my dad again when he was with the Tigers. All of those guys are older than me so I was the youngest guy there. There was no pressure, just a lot of fun.
BF: You got to face a couple of tough pitchers in Tim Hudson & a tough lefty in Mark Mulder. As a left-handed hitter do you have a problem with left-handed pitchers?
PF: No, whenever I'm going good I don't, when I'm going bad I guess I do. So it depends on how I am. If I'm going bad I have a problem with everybody, any pitcher. But I think usually when I'm going bad if I see a lefty it's going to be a little worse that day than it would be if I saw a righty. But that's part of baseball.
BF: I had the opportunity to see you at Miller Park during the team's pre-draft workout last summer, and I saw you hit a big home run against Khalid Ballouli. That shot was comparable to some of the ones knocked out of Miller Park during the Home Run Derby last summer. How good did that feel hitting balls that far at Miller Park?
PF: It was alright. I joke around with him (Ballouli) every now & then, just messing around with him. I actually saw like seven at bats off of him, because every time I'd get out they'd tell me "Prince, come hit again." So he knew he was going to give up something against me since he faced me so many times. He's cool about it, we're just messing around.
BF: Was there ever any doubt that the Brewers would take you in the draft? Was there anyone ahead of the Brewers that you thought might take you?
PF: I didn't know if anyone was going to take me that high. I was reading all of the stuff in Baseball America, so I don't know, I didn't feel really good after that. Everyone has negatives whether it be this or that. I kind of got discouraged and I was like 'whatever,' I didn't even pay attention, and then all of the sudden the Brewers called me and I was happy.
BF: You seem to be very patient at the plate & you draw a lot of walks. Is this something you focus on realizing the importance of getting on base even if you don't get a good pitch to hit by letting the guys behind you drive you in?
PF: I think I'm getting better at that, but also every now & then if I don't have a hit that game and 2 walks already I'll expand my zone because I really want to get a hit. I think I have to work on that. Say I take 2 walks and I want to get a good swing on a ball, and on a ball that's really not a strike I'll try to hit that ball hard and I'll end up having a ground out or not even hitting the ball as hard as I want to. So I just have to work on taking all the walks all the time.
BF: The chicks dig the long ball.
PF: Yeah. I kind of get excited like that too. I want to hit the ball far. Or, I'll start thinking to myself 'ok, that one was tight, now they're going to come right down the middle' and I get too impatient, that's all.
BF: How hard was it to focus in school being the son of Cecil Fielder & being scouted pretty hard as a very talented baseball player?
PF: My senior year was real hard (to stay focused), because I didn't have many classes anyway. I'd go to class but I'd be so excited to go play. Sometimes I'd just daze off, but I always got my work done, but I still was a lot more excited to be on the field. I guess that's not a bad thing.
BF: There is a lot of talk about the number of first base prospects in the organization starting with Richie Sexson at the top & including you, Corey Hart & Brad Nelson. There was some talk about trying both you & Brad in the outfield during instructional league, did that ever happen and do you see yourself playing anywhere other than first base?
PF: I didn't go to instructional ball because I had a pulled groin. I heard that before I was going to go, that I would be playing in the outfield. Spring training they didn't try it, and they haven't tried here. So I don't know, I guess I'm staying at first.
BF: You seem to have a flair for the dramatic, getting an infield RBI single in your first pro plate appearance and later helping your team win with a grand slam, and you then homered in your first game here in Beloit. What has been your biggest moment as a professional player so far?
PF: I think the first game when I hit the grand slam. Because we were down by 4, I think, and I tied it up. I was really nervous that game too. Not too much pressure, but I felt a little bit as a first round pick and I felt the fans and all of my teammates wanted to see me be good, so I wanted to show them something. That was a good day.
BF: With that, you seem to be more of a star player, a guy that people come out to see play wherever you're at. Do you enjoy that responsibility and the attention you're already receiving as a superstar?
PF: Yeah. You always like to be that. Even though there's some pressure to it, I don't mind that pressure because it's always positive. Say you do good yesterday, that makes you work hard every day, because people want to see you do good because they probably didn't see that other game. So you want to keep doing good every day.
BF: Do you have some teammates that you feed off, that when one gets a hit you feel like you have to get a hit, or you can see how they're pitching whether it be inside, or throwing more curves, etc.?
PF: Not really. I think I'm the same with all of my teammates. I joke around with everybody.
BF: How's the clubhouse, pretty loose, pretty relaxed?
PF: Yeah, it's loose. Sometimes it gets a little tight, coaches get mad at us, but that's all, that's part of the game.
BF: Does a lot of that come from hanging out with all of these guys so much?
PF: Yeah. Plus I played with them in rookie ball too, so I've known them for a while, we all know each other by now. We can't get away from each other so we might as well have some fun.
BF: A lot has been made with the Twins how most of their talented players came up the system together, do you think that helps?
PF: Yeah, I think that helps a lot. If you're familiar with someone you're always going to feel comfortable on the field. Or say you get moved up but you know at least one face on the new team, you'll feel more comfortable. Like when they moved me up here last year Ralph Santana was here and I played with him in high school, so because I felt like the new guy when I saw him walk in it was like 'hey, what's up man.' So it helped me feel a little more comfortable.
BF: How are the rest of the guys with new players that get promoted?
PF: They were cool too. But it's just like the first day of school and you really don't know anyone, but if you see a familiar face you kind of relax a little bit.
BF: What are your biggest strengths right now?
PF: I think I'm hitting pretty good every now and then. That's about it really, I want to get better at everything. I'm hard on myself. I think I'm alright, but I want to get a lot better.
BF: Can you be too hard on yourself?
PF: Yeah. But I guess that's good and bad.
BF: So do you think you have a weakness that stands out?
PF: That's it. I'm too hard on myself right now.
BF: What do the Brewers expect from you?
PF: I think they want me to hit pretty good, and fielding too. They really stress that, they want me to play good defense, so I'm trying to go out & do that for them. I think they care more about my defense because defense should never have a slump really, it should be there every day. But with hitting, I'm not going to get a hit every time, but I think I can make the routine play every time. Good defense helps the team out every day even if you're not hitting.
BF: Do they preach a certain philosophy with what you do at the plate, or do they just want to see you go out there get your hacks?
PF: I think they just want to see me get my hacks, really. I'm just going up there swinging.
BF: The Brewers are preaching patience in promoting their prospects, so do you see yourself getting moved up to High Desert or Huntsville this year or do you expect to be here in Beloit all year?
PF: Yeah, I'm going to be here all year.
BF: How do you feel about that, do you feel you should be bumped up or do you think a full season here will help you more?
PF: You know, wherever they decide (to have me play) is good with me. As long as you play hard where you're at, you'll be fine. I want to put the pressure on them to move me instead of having the pressure on me to move. You know what I mean? If I play hard that puts the pressure on them then I don't have to worry about it. If I just play good I know good things are going to happen.
BF: Do you follow the numbers, do you watch the box scores?
PF: I try not to, because you play so many games so that stuff is going to change anyway. So I try to just wait until the end of the season to see what is going on. Even when they put my batting average up on the board at some other stadiums I try not to look at it because I don't even want to know.
BF: So you're not thinking like you have to go 2 for 3 with X amount of RBIs?
PF: Yeah. It's not how you start anyway, it's how you finish.
BF: Do you have a timeline set for yourself, when do you see yourself in Milwaukee?
PF: I don't know. I don't have a timeline because you never know. There are a lot of guys that are 20, 21 in the big leagues right now, and let's say all of the sudden I just turn around and everything starts coming easy for me. Whenever I'm ready I guess.
BF: Do you have any goals for yourself for this season or long term, or is whole idea about getting to the big leagues?
PF: Yeah, that's the main goal.
BF: Well we all look forward to that day. Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us, and continued best of luck & skill to you this season & beyond.
PF: Alright. Thank you.
Brewerfan.net would like to thank Prince Fielder for taking the time to sit down with us. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.