In January 2011 we had a chance to talk to Brock Holt as he got ready for the upcoming season. That interview can be read here. Last year he was coming off a season ending knee injury at this time, looking forward to what would end up being his first full season of minor league ball. He played 132 games this year for Altoona, hitting .288 with 30 doubles, 18 stolen bases and 50 walks. He was named to the Eastern League All-Star game where he ended up taking home the MVP of the game award. Following the season he was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .250 in 8 games with seven walks and three stolen bases despite missing time with hamstring injury prior to joining his team there. We had a chance to talk to Brock about his season, his all-star appearance, the AFL, the amount of infielders the Pirates have accumulated this off-season and more.
1.Hey Brock, thanks for doing this. When we talked last year about your placement to begin the year, you were hoping to be at Altoona. Being there the entire year, what was the jump in level of competition like over high-A ball, some people consider it the biggest jump talent-wise in baseball?
Hey John! You’re right, I was hoping that the pirates would push me to AA even though I wasn’t able to get a ton of at bats at the high A level. Fortunately, they thought enough of me to allow me to make the jump. AA was a big jump from high A, the biggest difference between every level you move up is the pitching and it was no different in moving to AA. The pitching in AA was tough, every guy knew how to pitch and were able to locate and use both sides of the plate.
2.You had also mentioned you wanted to work on your stolen bases. Were you happy about how this season went in that aspect, especially coming back off a leg injury?
Going into the year, I did want to work on stealing more bases because that’s the type of player I have to be. I was able to steal more bases this year but my success rate wasn’t where it should be, I was getting thrown out too much. There are still some things I need to work on in that aspect of just knowing good times and pitches to steal on but I do feel like I made progress this past year.
3.You were named an all-star for the third straight year, how does if feel to be a perennial all-star now and also win the MVP award for the game this year?
It was a huge honor to get selected to the all star game this year. I was able to play with and against a lot of really talented guys and had a blast doing it. It was a fun night for me and luckily we played in New Hampshire with the short porch to right so I was able to sneak one out (laughs)
4.What was your experience like in the AFL, playing among that many prospects in one league must’ve been a real good learning experience?
The AFL was great. I wish I could have been a part of the entire thing but unfortunately, I pulled my hamstring the day before I was supposed to fly out from instructs. The delay hurt me a little because when I got there I didn’t really get an opportunity to get consistent playing time and at bats. It made it tough to go out and compete when I did get in the lineup, especially playing against the type of arms that are in Arizona. But definitely a great experience and honor getting to play out there with all those talented guys.
5.Did you take notice when the Pirates made a bunch of moves this offseason for infielder, such as signing Clint Barmes for two years, acquiring Casey McGehee, trading prospects for Yamaico Navarro and then taking a shortstop in the rule V draft? Along with Jordy Mercer, Chase d’Arnaud and Josh Harrison they seem to have a lot of guys for the few positions ahead of you. Also have there been any talks about your position for next year, when I saw you play you were at second base every time but you played a lot of shortstop later in the season?
Of course, I notice all the moves being made because I keep up with what’s going on within the organization but I don’t really think much into it. I’ve kind of learned over the past few years that I have to focus on what I can control. The Pirates do have a lot of infielders in the organization and who knows what’s going to happen with all of us but I can’t worry about that. All I can do is go out every day and play my game. I feel like if I do that then I’ll end up where I need to be.
6.This past season was your first full season in the minors, did the daily grind get to you at all and has it change your off-season training from years in the past?
Being able to get my first actual full season under my belt was huge for me. I was able to experience what its like to play 140 something games and what it takes to get yourself ready every single day. The grind definitely does take a toll on your body and anyone who tells you different is lying but it’s part of it and learning how to stay on the field is a big part of the game. I feel like my offseason training has always gotten me ready so I’ve pretty much kept it the same. I’m looking forward to kicking it in this last month or so to continue getting ready for 2012.
7.Thanks for doing this Brock, any final thoughts for the fans waiting for this last month to pass before spring training starts to kick in?
I know everyone is getting antsy for baseball season to start and I am no different. Looking forward to a successful 2012 season.
Good luck to Brock and I’d like to thank him again for taking the time to do this interview.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.