With their 20th-round pick in this year's draft, the Brewers chose Washington State shortstop Shea Vucinich. He took some time to chat with me on Thursday.
BF: Have you been celebrating?
SV: Yeah, with the fam. They're pretty excited.
BF: I can imagine. So, did you know the Brewers were interested?
SV: Yeah, I had talked to quite a few teams, but three that showed more interest than the others were Milwaukee, Texas, and Colorado.
BF: Did the Brewers tell you about when they wanted to draft you? Approximately what round?
SV: Yeah, you know, they were very straightforward with me for the entire process. They predicted between [round] 15 and 25, so they got it right on the money.
BF: Were you listening to the draft when your name was called?
SV: Actually, I heard watching the show on ESPN could be quite nerve-racking, so I was out golfing with some teammates, and I actually got a text from a summer teammate from the Cape [Cod League] and he congratulated me. That was my first knowledge of getting chosen.
BF: Do you plan on signing?
SV: I actually did that night. I'm officially in the Brew Crew.
BF: Well, welcome aboard!
SV: Thanks, I appreciate it.
BF: When do you leave for Arizona?
SV: I actually head out to Helena on Sunday.
BF: Oh, very nice, you get to skip the summer heat in Arizona.
SV: Yeah, I had enough of that in Arkansas last weekend.
BF: So, can you describe yourself as a ballplayer a bit?
SV: Um... [pause] Tough question. I hate talking about myself. [pause] My work ethic is definitely what has gotten me to where I am. I'm very competitive and hate to lose. I've learned to respect the game, because no matter how good you're doing the game can humble you in a heartbeat. Sorry, that was a toughie for me.
BF: Is there an MLB player you'd compare yourself to?
SV: If I had to choose one person, I'd have to say David Eckstein. I still don't think it's right to compare myself to a big leaguer until I'm at that level.
BF: It looks like you hit for a pretty decent average as a freshman but tailed off a bit the next two years. Were you trading average for power a bit?
SV: Going into my sophomore year, I developed a bit of a leg kick hoping for some power. That possibly took toll on my average. I think being a freshmen is sort of an advantage, just because no teams have your scouting report yet. I also hit in the nine-hole most of the season. That could have been a factor.
BF: Do you think of yourself as more of a power hitter or contact hitter?
SV: Contact, for sure.
BF: You did hit two homers in a game in the Cape Cod League over the summer, though.
SV: Yeah, at times you just feel good in the box and the ball looks extra large. It was one of those days.
BF: How's your comfort level with wood bats?
SV: I actually enjoy wood bats more than metal, just because I'm more of a contact hitter.
BF: You prefer the "crack" to the "ping".
SV: Without a doubt.
BF: Did that contribute to your decision to go pro?
SV: No, it was a factor of getting some exposure at a younger age, getting away from school a little bit, and pursuing a dream.
BF: Was it tough at all to leave Wazzu though, in the midst of a baseball renaissance?
SV: For sure it was. I give all the credit to this year's seniors for that turn around. They started turning the program around four years ago, and I really enjoyed being a part of it.
BF: From what I read, [WSU teammate] Seth Harvey's also signed and also headed to Helena. It must be nice to have a teammate heading out there with you.
SV: It definitely is. Seth's a great ballplayer and even a better person. He's one of those guys that everyone wants to be around and can lighten the mood of any situation. And that's needed a lot in baseball.
BF: Can you give us a mini scouting report on him?
SV: Seth has a good fastball, and he's developed a changeup that he's grown to go to more and more.
BF: Okay, getting back to you for a second, how would you describe your approach at the plate? Are you swinging, or are you patient?
SV: Stepping into the box, you can't think at all, you just have to react. I just focus on being on time for what I'm looking for and staying inside the ball.
BF: And how about on defense? I've read that you're pretty good with the glove.
SV: Defense is definitely my strength. If I'm not producing offensively, I have that as a backup. I did gymnastics for ten years, so that's played a huge factor in the athleticism on the field.
BF: You're the first player I know of with a gymnastics background. Can you talk a little more about how that's helped you?
SV: It's helped in my overall strength. Balance is really important when making a play on the run, and I'm pretty aware of where and what my body is doing from all the flipping.
BF: I would imagine that it also helps your body control when hitting too, with things like keeping your hands back on off-speed stuff.
SV: It for sure does.
BF: Apart from baseball, what do you like to do?
SV: I absolutely love playing Wiffle ball. Growing up in Idaho, the outdoors are very important--fishing, camping, et cetera. And I can't get enough of my family.
BF: Being from Idaho, Montana will probably be pretty comfortable for you, and I hear the fly fishing is outstanding.
SV: Oh yeah, I've been in the area and have some friends in Helena. They know all the spots.
BF: Okay, now for the topic on everyone's tongue: Pac-10 expansion. What's your opinion?
SV: Oh man. After playing all the Pac-10 teams this year, I'd have to say it couldn't get much harder. It would make it extremely hard for some really good teams to make the tourney in June. I'm not a big fan of it. [laughs]
BF: I can imagine you wouldn't be too thrilled about adding Texas baseball to the equation.
SV: Although I love the competition, no.
BF: Okay, well that's about all I've got for you.
SV: I think you did a great job with your questions. You summed it all up.
BF: Hey, thanks! I don't often get feedback from the interviewees.
SV: Well, I'm not trying to big-league anyone. [laughs]