In the 23rd round of this year's draft, the Oakland A's selected outfielder J.D. Pruitt from Division II Montevallo. After signing, he was assigned to short-season Vancouver and helped spark the Canadians to a 4-1 start to the season. Jeremy Knight, who also writes for the popular Vancouver Canadians' blog Notes From The Nat, recently caught-up with the C's newest sparkplug.
Few would argue that J.D. Pruitt has shown courage and sacrifice in his first week of pro ball with the short-season Vancouver Canadians. After being hit by pitches twice on opening night (and walking three times for a 0-0, 2-run line), Pruitt was beaned again the following evening (before hitting a home run), and once more the game after that.
This might all seem like terribly bad luck, if not for the fact that Pruitt set records for getting hit by pitchers in college; apparently taking a fastball to the ribs is just part of his toolkit for getting on-base.
And it seems to be working; by the end of the Canadians’ first home series, the lead-off hitter out of the University of Montevallo boasted a .375 batting average, to go along with a 1.472 OPS, and an incredible .722 OBP.
Jeremy Knight caught-up with the right fielder in the C’s locker room and learned a little about what makes ‘Beanball’ Pruitt tick.
Jeremy Knight: What are your first impressions of pro ball?
J.D. Pruitt: It's great. It's kind of hard to describe because I come from a small school where we average around maybe 500 fans a game. To come here and play in front of 7,000 people the first night, and then to play in front of a great crowd is great. We were fortunate to win four out of five this series and the crowd had a lot to do with it.
JK: What are your initial thoughts of the newly upgraded Nat Bailey Stadium? The outfield, the infield, how does it work for you?
JP: It's a top notch short-season field. You don't see too many fields out there, at this level, which have the renovations that these guys have made. It's a great facility.
JK: You hit a home run out of here on Wednesday, but the park has a reputation for being a pitcher’s paradise; do you think you can get another shot out of here?
JP: [Laughs] I sure hope so. The guys say it's hard to hit one out of this stadium, so I'm hoping on the road that the outfield will be good, and I can hit a few more out of the park.
JK: What's your secret for being hit by pitches so often?
JP: At this level, guys are going to try and come in on you, and my motto is, it's my box and not the pitchers'. So I'm going to stand my ground when he tries to come in on me, and I'm not going to move. Fortunately, the pitchers have lost some of their pitches and hit me a few times.
JK: Have there been any times this week when you've been hit that you just wanted to go back to the dugout and break out the ice?
JP: [Laughs] There's been plenty of times that I've wanted to do that, but I always keep my composure out on the field, and that's what you've got to do. Your job is to stay focused, and my job is to get on base, so that's what I do.
JK: You got drafted in the 23rd round, were you happy with where Oakland drafted you, or did they get themselves a bargain?
JP: I think I could've gone higher. I think the fact that I was at a small Division II school hurt my draft status, but I'm just happy to be here. I'm happy to have the opportunity to play pro-ball, and let everyone know that I deserve to be here.
JK: What's a better feeling? Being hit, being walked, or hitting a home-run?
JP: [Laughs] Oh man, a lot of guys would say hitting a homer, but I think I would have to say getting walked, especially if I get down 0-2. It lets you know that you're seeing the ball well, and I'm working the count really well, and that's my job as the lead off man. So I would have to say getting walked.
Jeremy Knight is known as Canada's wonderkid of sports reporting. He covers CFL football, college baseball and minor league hockey for The
Roadkill Sports Blog, and pro baseball for Notes From The Nat and Scout.com ... when he's not in detention.