You were raised in Vegas, and you’re a 2008 graduate of Silverado High School. What’s it like playing for the 51s in front of friends and family?
Oh, it’s awesome. I grew up here and attended games at Cashman Field, and throughout my professional career I played out on the East Coast the whole time. My family gets to see me play professionally, which is a really cool thing. My parents (Lauren and Doug) are here all the time, my close friends, high school friends, college friends. Every day there’s somebody.
You were drafted in the 35th round in 2011 by the New York Mets out of Central Florida University, and you’ve played for five minor league teams. What has been your favorite city?
Savannah [Georgia.] Just the history there. I’m a big history guy, I love history. There are some bugs in Savannah. That was one of my favorite years of playing pro ball because I had a good group of guys with me. We just had a good time there and enjoyed it. I had buddies who are no longer with the organization who were there. I went to both their weddings in the past few years. We were roommates and everything, so we’d stay up all night playing Call of Duty, hanging out or relaxing. We had a good time.
What did you like about growing up in Vegas?
It’s a big town with a small-town feel. Where I grew up, everybody knows everybody, especially in the Henderson area. I played baseball with kids who went to five different high schools, so I played against them at Green Valley, Coronado, Spring Valley, places like that. I played with Paul (Sewald) for a while and he’s back here (with the 51s), so it’s cool.
How tough was it to get to Triple A?
It was definitely tough for me. There’s a certain amount of talent involved, but a lot of luck is also involved—being in the right spot at the right time and taking advantage of opportunities I was given. It’s been a great ride. I love it. Being one step away from the big leagues is what every kid imagines. You don’t realize how hard it is to play minor league baseball. Just the transparency, all the friends you make and the next year they’re gone, something like that. Every year there are new guys, new teammates you have to get used to and new talent. [There’s] a lot of traveling. Triple A is better than (Double A) Binghamton (New York). You get to fly places. At Binghamton, we had 16-hour bus rides, so … that’s a long time to spend with 25 other guys.
What’s your favorite baseball movie?
Bull Durham. You can’t really go wrong with that one. It’s just actually the closest baseball movie you’ll get to minor league baseball. It’s what you see around the nation for minor league baseball. You can’t beat it.
When did you start dreaming about the major leagues, and how close are you to realizing that dream?
It was after my first major league spring training when I got invited (in 2014). That’s when I thought, well, they see something in me that can help them. That’s why they invited me. How close? I have no idea. You can’t really tell. You can’t guess or anything like that. All I have to do is go out and do my job every time, and that’s all that matters to me. If it happens, it happens. If not, you know, I gave it my all. That’s it.
What’s your most memorable moment on the baseball field?
It was in Savannah when my brother (Mark) threw out the first pitch, and then he did it last year here. The reason I’m where I am is because of him and what he’s taught me throughout my life, that hard work will get you anywhere, and to just keep your nose to the grindstone. And, you know, it’s really cool because my brother played baseball, and he’s really excited that I’m at this level, knocking on the door of the big leagues. So for him to come out here and throw out the first pitch a couple times, it’s fantastic. That’s probably the best memory I’ve ever had.