GENEVA, IL - After a season of struggles, the Kane County Cougars have been quietly playing better…
Pratt Handling Many Roles For Kane County
"I played a lot of different positions in high school and college and that has helped me stay around longer because I can help out in lots of different places," Pratt said.
"I can also play left field, right field and third base."
Besides his versatility, Pratt is also well-respected around the clubhouse, especially by Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula.
"Pratt does everything to right way," Nieckula said.
"He hustles constantly and works hard to get better. He's a fine example of what a baseball player should be."
As far as Pratt is concerned, being the oldest player on the team doesn't give him the right to be the leader. Rather, it is something that is earned by actions and not spoken words.
"I'm not much of a vocal leader," Pratt admitted.
"I'll say things when things need to be said but I try and lead by example. Getting here early, working hard and going about my business the right way are the ways I do it."
And since Pratt has been around the block a few times and seen how things are done at different levels, his credibility helps younger players take his suggestions to heart.
"It helps being at a couple different levels and seeing how those guys do things," Pratt said.
"I've been able to help some of the younger guys because of my experiences there. Plus, if you are busting your butt everyday, people are going to listen to you when you talk."
In the first half of the season, Pratt struggled at the plate hitting a dismal .208. However, since the All-Star break, Pratt has had two multi-home run games and an average of .250. Pratt attributes his success at the plate to slowing things down and keeping a clear head.
"I've tried to relax more and throw the numbers out the window," Pratt said.
"I was going up to the plate and trying to change my numbers with one at-bat and if you try to do that you're going to fail. I'm taking a more relaxed approach at the plate and it's working out for me."
With the addition of top prospect and first baseman Sean Doolittle, Pratt's playing time has taken a hit. But Pratt refuses to let it get him down. No matter if he is in the game or not, he is working hard to improve. Whether it's taking extra swings in batting practice or studying players swings during the game, Pratt is constantly thinking about ways to better himself on the field.
It is this love for the game that has many people, including Cougars' hitting coach and former A's farmhand Benny Winslow, thinking of Pratt as a possible coach when his baseball days are done. As far as Pratt's concerned, it would be right up his alley.
"I would love to stay around the game as a hitting coach," Pratt said.
"Whenever I'm not in the game I'm constantly watching guys swinging, even on the other team and seeing flaws. Benny [Winslow] and I talk back and forth quite a bit and hopefully it's something that could be a possibility. You never know but I would love to do that."
When he gets in the game, Pratt has been putting good swings on the ball. In his last 10 games, Pratt is batting .265 and has helped the surging Cougars (winners of four of their last five) both in the clubhouse and on the field.
"When I get my chances to play I don't get cheated," Pratt said.
"I'm up there swinging because I'm looked at as being more of a power hitter."
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