Cardinals Prospect Interview: Charlie Kingrey

Midwest League All-Star Charlie Kingrey took time to talk to the Birdhouse's Dustin Mattison.

With their selection in the 22nd round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals when to the bayou of Louisiana to select outfielder Charlie Kingrey. He led his McNeese State team and ranked second in the Southland Conference that season with 15 home runs. The former high school quarterback also led the Cowboys with 47 RBIs and a .360 batting average and was third in the SLC with a .672 slugging percent. He ended his career at as the Cowboys' hit leader with 244 and ranked second with 170 RBIs and 35 home runs.

 

The native Louisianan was a late sign with the Cardinals due to a wrist injury he suffered while playing at McNeese State. Kingrey was assigned to the Gulf Coast League, where he appeared in only nine games. It was obvious that he was rusty as the outfielder finished with a line of .150/.208/.150, striking out nine times in 20 at bats.

 

Flash forward to 2008 where Kingrey established himself as one of the top outfielders in the Midwest League. Over 249 at bats with Quad Cities, he hit .289/.355/.442 with six home runs and 40 RBIs.  For his performance with the River Bandits, he was named an All-Star Game starter.  During the game, the left-handed swinger collected two hits, including a triple, and drove in a run.  

 

On July 2, the organization decided to test the 23-year-old with a promotion to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.  At Palm Beach, Kingrey hit .256/.324/.388 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 160 at bats. 

 

Kingrey was kind enough to take time out of his off-season to share his thoughts on his first full season as a pro as well as the experience of witnessing the effects of Hurricane Katrina firsthand. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison: How is your off season going?

 

Charlie Kingrey:  So far, it is really good.  I am working right now and taking some time off to relax.  I am about to get back into the swing of things by hitting the weights and getting into the cages.

 

DM:  In your first season as a professional you were named a Midwest League All-Star. How rewarding is that after only getting 20 pro at bats the year before?

 

CK:  That is as good of a first season as it could have been.  Making the All-Star team in the first half of my first full season was incredible.  Plus, I was able to do well in the All-Star Game made it a really fun year. 

 

DM:  After your early success with the Quad Cities, you and Matt Arburr were promoted to Palm Beach.  How difficult was the adjustment to the Florida State League? 

 

CK:  It was a tougher league to hit in, for sure.  The ballparks were bigger and the pitching was much tougher.  It is definitely a step up.  We made the adjustments.

 

DM:  You mention the pitching, how is the pitching different?

 

CK:  The pitchers are more mature.  They command more pitches.  They are able to get their off-speed pitches over for strikes.  The pitchers will throw any pitch in any count.  But you have to make the adjustments and keep moving forward. 

 

DM:  How enjoyable was it to get to play with your college teammate, Brian Cartie, at Palm Beach?

 

CK:  It was great to see a familiar face.  Not knowing many guys after moving up a level, it was really nice to know somebody there. 

 

DM:  You got a late start on your pro career due to a wrist injury.  Did that injury have any affect on you this past season?

 

CK:  None at all.  I don't even think about it.  It is like it never even happened.

 

DM: Where is your focus this winter?  What part of your game are you looking to improve?

 

CK:  There is really no one certain area.  I am focused on getting better in every aspect of my game.  I am going to work hard just like I did last off-season and be in shape and ready to go for spring training. 

 

DM:  What was draft day like for you?  Were there other teams in the mix?

 

CK:  It was a total surprise to be drafted by the Cardinals.  I was expecting to be picked by Boston or Houston. 

 

DM:  How much did you know about the Cardinals before they drafted you?

 

CK:  A little bit.  I was a big Pujols fan and a Cardinal fan.  I was always a Braves fan growing up here in Louisiana.

 

DM:  You played quarterback in high school.  Do you miss that at all?

 

CK:  No, I only played two years of it and I really didn't like it.  I don't miss it and I am glad I chose baseball. 

 

DM:  Was it a difficult choice?  I understand several family members played football in college including your father and brother.  Was there pressure on you to go that route?

 

CK:  They weren't too happy.  I also had uncles and cousins who played football in college.  A couple of them made it to the pros.  I was the only baseball player so they weren't too happy when I chose baseball. 

 

DM: So do you watch a lot of college football this time of the year? 

 

CK: Definitely.  Everyone went to a different school so there are a lot of different games being watched.

 

DM:  You attended McNeese State, which is located in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  In 2005, while you were a student, Hurricane Katrina totally devastated that area.  Can you take me through that time during your life?

 

CK:  That was one of the worse things anyone could ever go through.  I didn't get back to Lake Charles for a month.  It looked like a bomb went off in the middle of the town.  It was really depressing.  There are still reminders because so many things have not been rebuilt.  It was miserable. 

 

DM: So where did you go before the storm hit?

 

CK:  We went to my hometown, Kinder.  We lucked out because we didn't get any damage up there.  Like I said, we didn't get to return to Lake Charles for a month and we didn't have power in Kinder during that month.  We moved to a town about an hour from their and we all got jobs until they let us back into town.  It was tough.

 

DM: What do you like to do when you are not playing baseball?

 

CK:  A lot of hunting and a lot of fishing.  Deer hunting is going on right now.

 

DM:  You have lived for a while in Florida after growing up in Louisiana.  Which state has the better seafood?

 

CK:  Louisiana by far, hands down. 

 

DM:  What should Cardinal fans know about Charlie Kingrey that they probably don't already know? 

 

CK:  That is a tough one.  I am doing what I have dreamed about since I was a little kid and there is not a better organization to do it with than the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

I appreciate Charlie's time and wish him continued success in 2009. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

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