There are only three home games left on the season so I'm about to go into my post-season grumpiness. I'm not good at dealing with life with no baseball. Thursday night at Modern Woodmen Park is All Pro Custom Tattoo Night - free Bandits Tattoos for all adults who are willing to wait in line. Fans with a tattoo get free berm tickets for as long as the franchise keeps the name River Bandits. I'll be tempted, but probably won't give in to the urge.
Jon Popham: I'm here with Colin Walsh. We just received word that you've been selected to play in the Arizona Fall League. What does that mean to you?
Colin Walsh: Well, you know, I'm really excited, obviously. It's important and I'm glad to get some more game experience in the off season. It's an honor to be able to play.
JP: Tell our readers what's involved with the AFL.
CW: It's like a winter league basically. Teams send five or six guys from each organization. It's a well-respected winter league that's a lot like the season. We play every day for five weeks from the beginning of October to the beginning of November.
JP: Now, a tough question. You've been here for part of 2010, all of last year and this year. What was your intent coming into this season?
CW: This year, I really wanted to have a good year and make an impression on the organization. My goal this year was to have a year that they couldn't ignore. I wanted to put myself on the map in terms of being a prospect. I worked hard in the off-season to be ready to do that. I really like the Quad Cities so there are lots worse places to be.
JP: So, what have you been working on in your game this year to really improve?
CW: Basically, I came in and started swinging harder. I've developed a lot more power. That's been a big part of my game. I wanted to keep good discipline and have a good approach. This year I wanted to move back to second base and I'm working on that now. I'll also be working on that in the winter league.
JP: Since you mentioned it, you've played four or five positions this year. What are you doing to adapt and really become known as a second baseman?
CW: Well, last year I was mainly a utility guy. In my first year of pro ball, it was basically all second and a little third. In college, I was a second baseman all three years, so it's not a position change that's new to me. I'm just focusing on that every day. I'm working with Luis (manager Aguayo) a lot and drawing from his experience in the big leagues. That's a great tool to have, so I'm just working my way back into being comfortable in that position and playing well.
JP: When I talked to Stephen Piscotty a couple of weeks ago, he said that you were very instrumental in helping him become part of the team. Is that a role that you've taken upon yourself for the team as a veteran?
CW: Yeah, I'm definitely experienced there! I know the area very well and I know it's hard to come into a place when you don't know anything about it. So when we get a new guy, I try to help him out with finding a place to live, knowing where to go to eat, and things like that. I appreciated the help when I first got here, so I try to be that presence now for the new guys. I think that being here for a month in my first year allowed me to ease into the Quad Cities and then when I was back next year, I was able to help others out.
JP: Outside of the game, who inspires you to be the best that you can be?
CW: There are a number of people, but my Dad is someone I'm pretty close with and I look up to in terms of motivation. I also think mainly my motivation comes from within, so I try to stay self-motivated.
JP: Within the game, who do you try to emulate - someone from the Major Leagues?
CW: You know, I don't really think about playing like someone else. It's hard to compare since they are Major Leaguers and I'm playing Class-A! I think maybe I'm a Chase Utley type - I've got some power and I hit for average. I mean, that's my goal every year - it happens differently sometimes, but that's what I try to do.
JP: After fall league, what will you do in the off-season?
CW: I think this year I'm going to take a break for a little bit. I've been playing since late February when I went to Florida, not including the training I did in the off-season last year. I've been playing almost every day and that will continue until November 15 so I'm going to relax, take a few weeks off and spend some time with my family. That will be the first time I've been back to San Diego for a whole off-season so I'm just going to enjoy my time there. Once December and January hit, I start training for next year.
JP: What advice would you give to a kid who wants to get into professional baseball?
CW: Obviously, work hard. Everyone has certain natural abilities so you want to maximize that. I think the biggest thing that I'd say is to do well in school - give yourself options based on your grades. Keep college in view because a lot of kids aren't ready to play pro ball out of high school. I know I would not have survived pro ball if I had gone straight out of high school. Three years of college really helped mature me as a person and as a player and that's hard to do if you have sub-par grades. I'd say that's something that a lot of kids don't really think about, but it's actually important in terms of your baseball career.
JP: One last question. Since baseball is no longer an Olympic sport, if you were an Olympian, what sport would you play?
CW: (turns to several teammates in the clubhouse and polls them) There are so many good ones. I'm going to go with either ping pong or handball.
JP: Thank you, Colin!
Once again, thanks for reading. Next week's report will be the last one of the regular season. I'll be following up with season recaps and nominations for the players of the year. If you would like to give me your input, please message me through the forum at sport61201.
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