With their second round selection in the 2009 MLB First Year Player draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected catcher/pitcher Robert Stock out of the University of Southern California.
Stock has been on the prospect map for what seems like years. As a 15-year-old, he was named Baseball America's Youth Player of the Year. He decided to forego his senior season and enroll in the University of Southern California. Stock would serve as the team's starting catcher and closer during his first two seasons for the Trojans.
The spring, the 19-year-old struggled at the plate hitting only .226 but he did set career highs in home runs, six, and RBI's, 30. So Trojans' head coach Chad Krueter moved him to the rotation and Stock excelled. In his first start, he pitched five innings and struck out 10 against the University of Arizona. In 77.2 innings, he logged 86 strikeouts while walking 39.
A day after being selected with the 67th overall, Stock was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Dustin Mattison: Can you kind of talk me through what you were doing on draft day?
Robert Stock: On draft day, I took advantage of the late start to sleep in before I headed over to my former high school where I practiced a bit with my younger brother, Richard. We went over to my friend's house where we turned the draft on and watched a bunch of my friends (including my teammates Grant Green and Brad Boxberger) get drafted.
In the second round it was my turn. I had kept on telling my friends that the earliest possibility I had of getting drafted was in the second round to the Cardinals, but that it was a long shot. When I heard my name called the whole room went crazy. It was very exciting. I got a call a couple minutes later from the Cardinals' organization telling me congratulations and they were excited that they could pick me. I told them I was equally excited to play for the Cardinals organization and that I was ready to start playing professional baseball.
DM: I understand that you prefer catching to pitching. Is that correct?
RS: I prefer catching to pitching because as a position player, you get to be in the lineup every day. Don't get me wrong I love pitching as well. Ultimately, I just want to be a major leaguer, regardless of what position. But I would prefer to start out as a catcher and see where it takes me from there.
DM: Give me a scouting report on Robert Stock the catcher.
RS: As a catcher I pride myself in my defense. The catcher is the guy that everyone has to stare at the whole game, so it's important to not only catch the ball, but also to give off a certain persona back there and provide your pitchers with some leadership. Luckily for me, I feel like my pitching experience helps me deal with pitchers, because I have some idea of where they're coming from. Offensively, I haven't performed to the level I feel myself capable. I need to keep working hard and go into professional ball where I'm just focusing on one position. Staying disciplined at the plate, and hitting the good pitches is important, and I plan to improve as I get more experience.
DM: Robert Stock the pitcher.
RS: As a pitcher, I have a potent fastball that I can pitch with at about 92-94 mph, and out of the pen I can try and run it closer to 96 mph. I need to improve my command to succeed at the higher levels, because professional hitters can hit anything if you throw it down the middle. My curveball and changeup are quality pitches that I used with success at the college level. I need to make sure that these are consistent pitches, because during the season, I hit too many batters with errant curveballs.
DM: What do you know about the Cardinals organization?
RS: In the Cardinals' organization, I know quite a few players. The catcher at the Triple-A level is Bryan Anderson, from Simi Valley high school, whom I played many times in my league. I played against Brett Wallace in the Pac-10 for the past couple years where he did nothing but destroy us.
DM: You had a highly publicized prep career. Can you take me through the decision to forego your senior year of high school and enroll at USC?
RS: Leaving high school early for college was a decision that has benefited me greatly as a person and a ballplayer. The experience I've gained from Coach Kreuter and playing Pac-10 baseball is invaluable, and I hope to expound on that when I join the Cardinals' organization. Personally, going to college and spending 3 years with my teammates and then going to Cape Cod over the summers was incredible.
DM: Tell me about your experience with wood bats.
RS: I've been using wood bats during the summers since high school, and love them. They're a large equalizer because they really make the hitter become much finer and hit the ball on the sweet spot.
DM: When is your first scheduled trip to St. Louis?
RS: I don't have a trip scheduled for St. Louis but hopefully I can make it a home in the next couple years. I think the first place I'll be sent is Johnson City for some rookie ball, and I find that extremely exciting.
DM: Last question. What should Cardinal fans know about you that they probably don't already know?
RS: Lastly, fans probably don't know that I'm an avid reader possibly bordering on nerdy. I love the Lord of the Rings and they were great movies too.
I thank Robert for taking time during this exciting time to talk with me. I wish him the best in his career with the Cardinals.
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