Quad Cities Bandits Notebook: 2012 Week 19

Exclusive interview with a Cardinals 2012 first-round draft pick, third baseman Stephen Piscotty.

This week started to make a turn in the right direction for the Quad Cities River Bandits. They took three of four games in Burlington (going back into last week), but lost all three at home to Beloit. Burlington came to Davenport and the Bandits lost two of three. Monday night's game went 12 innings after the Bandits gave up a four-run lead in the eighth inning. The play has been very streaky and makes me wonder if they are really committed to making the playoffs.

If the streak is hot the last week of August, I think they will make it. The Bandits are two games behind Burlington for the second place spot even though they are in sixth place. Two of the teams who are ahead of them have already secured their playoff berth so they don't really figure into the second half standings.

The second jersey auction of the season was held this week. The charity was the Genesis Foundation that supports cancer research. The white and dark red jerseys were good looking and attracted a lot of attention in the auction. Stephen Piscotty's and Nick Martini's each raised $300. It was a fun night as the Bandits won the game and raised a few thousand dollars for cancer research.

This week, I did finally get to talk to Stephen Piscotty. He's one of the most articulate players I've ever been able to interview. He's studying Atmosphere Energy Engineering at Stanford so it is easy to see that he is above average on the intelligence scale. He is one of those guys who makes everyone feel like they have known him for a long time. He is passionate about what he does.

Jon Popham: I am here with Stephen Piscotty. Thanks for taking time to talk to me today. I know it has already been a long year for you, coming from college ball at Stanford into professional ball. How did you handle the transition?

Stephen Piscotty: I think I handled it alright. The first few games I had to knock the rust off a little bit but once I got used to seeing pitching again I just really let my game be what it is, do what I've always done. The transition wasn't too bad.

JP: How long was it between college and arriving here?

SP: I want to say it was about two, two and a half weeks.

JP: How is your daily schedule here different from college?

SP: Oh, it's definitely different here! I'm not in class so I get to enjoy my mornings a little more! There's more time involved but I like it. I'm playing professional baseball, so it's my job. It's what I do. It's good to be here getting work in outside of just the games. The Cardinals have done a great job of developing guys and helping me, even in the short stint that I've been here.

JP: Was it difficult to come into the team at mid-season and become part of the team?

SP: What actually helped was that Colin Walsh had played for Stanford when I was there as a freshman so I knew him coming here and he helped me out a tremendous amount, getting settled in, getting a place to live, getting to know some of the guys. It really made the transition easy and I really thank him for that.

JP: What's the biggest difference between college ball and pro ball?

SP: I think the players are just better. It's a little more about player development here. It's nice to be able to focus on things, to have coaches who are working just on you specifically where in college they were more focused on working on the team aspect. Here, they are really hands-on and I like that aspect.

JP: What is the biggest difference you see in pitching?

SP: Guys throw a little bit harder, they are more accurate. At this level, they are here for a reason - they don't have many control issues. You have to take your best to the plate if you want to get a hit. There are no easy at-bats at this level.

JP: Have you had to change anything regarding your plate discipline?

SP: I've tried to keep it all the same and it's working out; so far so good! I could certainly improve definitely, but I'm happy with my approach. If there's something along the way that I need to change, I'll do that, but right now I'm pretty happy with the way things are going.

JP: What part of your game needs the most work right now?

SP: Oh, defense. That's pretty simple. I need to get better playing third. It's nice to be playing there again. I jumped around in college, third, left, I pitched - jumped around a lot. I'm glad to be here working on third only. If the Cards want to move me, I'd be glad to do that. I've always been kind of a utility player. It has been a good experience so far getting to settle in and get used to just playing third.

JP: You've been here for five weeks now. What have you learned in your time here?

SP: I've learned a lot about the game - little things like what pitchers are trying to do with certain counts or certain runners on base, learning those situations. I'm learning how to play professionally. It's definitely different from college, I'm learning a lot from the guys around me; they all try to help as well as the coaches.

JP: What do you like most about living in Davenport?

SP: The best thing about Davenport is the fans! It's a pretty cool atmosphere here. They really like their baseball here. It also has a cool downtown, it's a nice area, but the fan support is the best.

JP: Who on the team challenges you the most to be your best?

SP: I think everyone, honestly. You know, we're all competing to be in the lineup every day; we're all trying to get moved up. It's not really one person; we're all trying to make each other better when we compete. There's a lot of camaraderie and good team chemistry.

JP: Outside the game, who inspires you to be great?

SP: My parents. They have always believed in me. In fact, I'd say my whole family. I have a small family and everyone is pulling for me, my brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles - you know? I'm playing for them as well as myself. I want to make our name proud. I'm really driven by the way my family supports me.

JP: What advice would you give to a kid who is just getting started in baseball?

SP: Oh - play as many positions as you can! I think that it's cool to get to play different spots. I've been fortunate enough to hit and get to pitch in college, it was an incredible experience. I think that's how you become a real student of the game, experience every aspect of the game - catch, pitch, outfield. Don't get bogged down thinking you have to play one position. Don't think that you need to be a shortstop just because your favorite player is a shortstop. Just play all the positions and have fun doing it.

JP: One last question. This is going to be published just after the Olympics are over. What sports are you watching this week?

SP: Swimming was probably the most I followed. I'm not sure what's left other than basketball, but I watched the swimming.

JP: And if you were an Olympian, what would be your sport?

SP: Hmm, I'm not much of a swimmer. I'd go for volleyball.

JP: Thank you, Stephen!

The season is winding down but we're still hoping that the team is gearing up for the post season. If you have any questions or suggestions, please message me through the forum at sport61201.

Thanks for reading!

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