2010 MLB Draft Q&A: Kaleb Cowart

Profiling as a top-round selection in the 2010 draft as both a 3B and a pitcher, Kaleb Cowart dominates at Cook County High School in Georgia. We sat down with the switch-hitter to discuss his mindset on the field, how his hitting abilities differ from each side, and just how strong his arm really is.

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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I've seen your height and weight at 6'3", 190 lbs - is that still accurate?

Kaleb Cowart: I'm probably 6'3 ½", between 195 and 200 lbs.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you been consciously trying to add weight?

Kaleb Cowart: Yeah, I work out probably three, four times a week and just drink protein, man laughs.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: We obviously know about baseball, but are you playing any other sports?

Kaleb Cowart: No, I played basketball and football when I was in middle school, but once I got to high school I gave them up and just focused on baseball.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What drew you to FSU?

Kaleb Cowart: I've always wanted to go to FSU; Tallahasee is only about a half an hour from my house. Since I was a little kid it's always been a dream of mine to go there and be a Seminole, so once they offered I really couldn't turn it down.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So I assume you'll be playing two-way there?

Kaleb Cowart: That's correct. I do believe I'll be given the chance to play shortstop, but I'm not sure. There are kids that are a lot faster than me, but right now it's in between short and third.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you been thinking about the draft?

Kaleb Cowart: Well, it's obviously a big factor for all kids that are that caliber of baseball player. I try not to think about it, especially when I'm playing, I just try to go out and have fun.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If a situation presented itself where you got drafted and a team offered you a good contract, is playing professional baseball right out of high school something you would consider?

Kaleb Cowart: Yes, definitely.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you dream about playing professionally, what is the image you get in your mind?

Kaleb Cowart: Honestly, just standing at third base, or up at the plate, and there's 30,000 people screaming your name. I mean, who wouldn't want to be in that situation?

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?

Kaleb Cowart: Probably all thirty.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So you've had contact with the Yankees?

Kaleb Cowart: Yes I have. They had an in-home in January or December – somewhere in there.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How did switch-hitting come about for you?

Kaleb Cowart: When I was a kid my dad really pushed me, and he really wanted me to be a switch-hitter, and I am actually a little ambidextrous – I kick with both feet and I eat with both hands – so he worked with me when I was little. I really didn't start doing it legitimately until I was a freshman in high school.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Which side does each of the hitting tools best?

Kaleb Cowart: My left-handed swing generates more power because I use more of my legs, and get good backspin, and to the opposite field, from that side. Right-handed, I'm more of a contact hitter – my hands are really quick from that side.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your approach at the plate?

Kaleb Cowart: When I go into the box I just try to clear my mind of everything; I don't think about "use your legs," or "watch the ball," I just try to clear my head and hit the ball where it's pitched.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are you a patient or aggressive hitter?

Kaleb Cowart: At times I'm aggressive, I mean, if it's a first pitch fastball I like I do like to jump on it sometimes, but overall I'm pretty patient because I really don't get pitched to in high school.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do you hit in the lineup?

Kaleb Cowart: Third.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your personality out there? What does someone in the stands see when they're watching you play?

Kaleb Cowart: I'm calm, I'm a leader on our team, but I'm not so much a vocal leader – I'm more of a lead-by-example guy.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You spoke earlier about FSU giving you a shot at shortstop, but most places have you listed at third base. Where do you see yourself?

Kaleb Cowart: Probably third base, honestly. I'm a bigger guy, not fat or anything, but there are so many players, especially some of the Latin guys, who are so quick in the middle of the infield. I mean, you can hold your own, but those guys deserve to play shortstop and second base.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Yeah, seeing some of the Yankees recent IFA middle infield signings play the field is truly impressive. They can really pick it, even at 16 years old.

Kaleb Cowart: They're quick man; they are unbelievably quick – unreal. He's an outfielder, but when we were down in Jupiter we saw that Wagner Mateo kid, and he was nasty. He just had unreal tools, he hit like 97 MPH from the outfield, and just dropped bombs at the plate.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 97 MPH is really high, but I've read that you have a cannon of your own having hit 100 MPH from the outfield. Is that true?

Kaleb Cowart: [laughs] Yeah, that's correct.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So let's talk about your arm a little bit – can you give us a description of your arsenal?

Kaleb Cowart: I throw from a three-quarters arm-slot, and that has a tendency to make my ball run more – my fastball is not flat at all. I mainly throw two-seams, they start out middle-away to a righthander and then run inside, and there are days they move six to eight inches; they really do move. That two-seam is usually sitting probably 93-94 MPH and will hit 95, maybe 96 MPH if I'm feeling really good that day. I also throw a four-seam, and that will be a little bit harder, maybe 95-96 MPH. I usually don't throw it unless I'm 3-0 and need a strike, or 0-2 and am really trying to gas-up on one. I throw a slider, that's usually 81-82 MPH, and it's got a hard, late break on it. I throw a circle changeup and it's probably 83-84 MPH, somewhere around there, and it's got a late fade and fall to it. I also throw a splitter, it's probably around 85 MPH, and it goes up to the plate, knuckles a little bit, and then drops off the table a good six to eight inches.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Which one would you say is your out pitch?

Kaleb Cowart: Probably my slider.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do scouts stand with regards to evaluating you as a position player versus a pitcher? How about your opinion?

Kaleb Cowart: I mean, I love to play day in and day out as a position player, if I didn't love it I wouldn't play. Every kid would like to play a position because if you're pitching you're only out there every five days, but it's all in how you look at it. I don't mind being a pitcher because I throw pretty hard, and I would rather play every day, but I definitely would pitch – I don't mind doing it at all. The scouts are kind of split, some like me as a position player, some like me as a pitcher, it's all going to depend on what the team taking me wants.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember what the Yankees liked you as?

Kaleb Cowart: I think the Yankees like me on the mound.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was it like playing on a Major League field at Petco for the Aflac game?

Kaleb Cowart: Oh man, it was unreal; it was a life changing experience, that's what it was. You really realize that you could have a future in this sport, and everything that I'd always dream became a reality for a little while.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I'm going to take a wild shot in the dark here and guess that a switch-hitting third baseman from Georgia grew up a Braves fan and idolized Chipper Jones?

Kaleb Cowart: I do. I think I can see myself playing like Chipper, I mean obviously there are the similarities, but as a kid I did idolize him.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the other big league players that you look up to for their skills or the way they play the game?

Kaleb Cowart: Justin Verlander. I really like the way he pitches – he's a go-getter and he doesn't think anybody is better than him on the mound, and I like that.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: A lot of the high school guys that are legitimately two-way like you actually end up closing rather than starting as the draft nears. Do you know what you'll be doing?

Kaleb Cowart: I'm starting, I'll pitch every seven days – about once a week.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you gotten any comparisons from scouts, either as a hitter or a pitcher?

Kaleb Cowart: Uhm, let's see…one scout compared me to Greinke, and hitting-wise I've been compared to Chipper Jones just because of all the similarities.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your perspective on your defense?

Kaleb Cowart: You obviously need defense to win, but it just kind of comes naturally to me. You're either a baller and you don't mind taking one off the chest or off the mouth, or you're not. I really don't care if I get hit, as long as I get an out.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one skill from anybody else in your draft class, whose would it be and why?

Kaleb Cowart: Mitchell Shifflett's speed, he ran a 6.11 at the national showcase, that was unreal. It was ridiculous, man. I ran right before that and he made me look slow! I ran a 6.7 or 6.8 and then he steps up and runs a 6.11 and it was completely effortless – he was not straining or anything , he was just loose and calm.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one pitch from anybody else in your draft class, whose would it be and why?

Kaleb Cowart: Jameson Taillon's curveball. That is THE nastiest curveball I've ever had to hit off of. It's nasty man, it really is.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So you're 18 now?

Kaleb Cowart: No, I don't turn 18 until June. Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So what's it like being 17 and having all these opportunities, as well as the pressure, and trying to still be a teenager?

Kaleb Cowart: It really is a dream and I wouldn't be here without God, and I thank him every day. The more successful I am the more people will see him

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