It has been an impressive professional debut season for Eli White. The Oakland A's 2016 11th-round pick was a starter in the New York-Penn League mid-summer classic and has been among the league's top hitters for average all season. After a two-hit game on Monday, White raised his average with the Lake Monsters to .314 in 185 at-bats. He is batting .343 over his last 10 games and he ranks sixth in the league in batting and 10th in OPS.
White came to the A's as their first selection on Day Three of the 2016 draft. He spent three years at Clemson, batting .275 in 153 games for the Tigers. In 2016, he hit .272 with a .389 OBP and he swiped 24 bases. White has eight stolen bases for Vermont, second most on the team. The strong-armed shortstop was one of the top infield defenders in the ACC this season and he has continued to play well in the pivot for the Lake Monsters.
Donald Moore spoke with the South Carolina native about his transition to professional baseball and more.
Donald Moore: Hi Eli, how is everything going for you so far this season?
Eli White: It's going great and I'm really enjoying my time up here. It's been a great experience so far.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
EW: I just take it one day at a time and play the game to the best of my ability. That's kind of my ultimate goal.
DM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
EW: I feel as though I've got some tools defensively. I can handle the bat well and put the ball into play. I have good speed and good defensive instincts, so I'm kind of an all-around good player.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
EW: The big thing right now is to cut down on some strike-outs and utilize my speed a little bit more, put more balls in play and bump my OBP up a little bit. That is probably the biggest thing I'm looking to do right now.
DM: How are you acclimating to professional baseball?
EW: There are some things that are different than college ball, but I feel like my time at Clemson has prepared me for where I am now, so it has been coming along pretty smooth so far.
DM: What is the best thing about being a professional athlete?
EW: You get to play baseball everyday, so you don't have to worry about going to class, and you get to play everyday and do what you love to do.
DM: What is the hardest thing about being a pro?
EW: I think just staying mentally focused everyday. Like I said you're playing a game every single day, not many off days, so learning how to stay focused every single day mentally and physically, and prepare your body the best you can to withstand injuries. It's a long season so take it one day at a time..
DM: Any pregame routine?
EW: Yeah, my individual cage routine and our coaches help us out with all of our defensive work and I have my own mental stuff I do before the game.
DM: Any hobbies?
EW: When I have the time, I love to be on the lake. I love wake boarding and doing all that stuff, like fishing and hunting, when I can.
DM: Favorite baseball team growing up?
EW: Probably the Boston Red Sox . My grandpa was a big Red Sox fan and he'd take me to games when I was a kid.
DM: Where are you originally from?
EW: I'm from Easley, South Carolina. Just outside the Greenville area.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
EW: Probably Coach Jack Leggett of Clemson. I played for him for two years. He taught me a lot about the game, the right way to play it and helped me a lot as a player.
DM: Craziest thing you ever saw on a baseball diamond?
EW: I haven't seen too much crazy stuff out there. Just kind of normal baseball stuff since I've been playing. Seen a lot of weird things but not too many things out of the ordinary.
DM: Any off-season plans?
EW: I really don't have any right now. I'll figure that out once I get there.
DM: Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you and your career.
EW: Thank you so much.