Q&A: 24th Round Pick Scott Hode

Meet Scott Hode, the Cubs' 24th round pick in this year's draft from the University of Arkansas. Hode (HO-DEE) grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill., a Cubs fan before attending college in an area otherwise known as Cardinal country. (Free preview of premium content.)

Inside The Ivy: Scott, congratulations on being drafted by the Cubs. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Scott Hode: I'm a senior here at Arkansas, where I played my four years as a Razorback. I'm originally from Crystal Lake, which is just northwest of Chicago. I came down to Fayetteville four years ago and have spent the best four years of my life here. Now, I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to play for my favorite team and organization. I'm really excited about that.

Inside The Ivy: We'll touch up on that in a moment. First, give us an idea of what was going through your head on day two of the draft.

Scott Hode: It was just a dream come true. My dream was to just play professional ball anywhere, but it was a bonus when the Cubs called. I hadn't talked to them at all and sure enough, they called and that was it. It makes the dream even more special.

Inside The Ivy: You grew up a Cubs fan, yet played college ball in what is really known as "Cardinal country." What was that like?

Scott Hode: (laughing) Oh, man, it never ends. Everybody is all over me about being a Cubs fan. It was "Cardinal this and Cardinal that." There's even a little Astros fanbase in Fayetteville. I haven't heard the end of it for four years. Now that I've been drafted by the Cubs, people are coming up to me, saying, "we're glad for you, but we still don't like ‘em." (laughs) I've been able to handle it.

Inside The Ivy: Who would you compare yourself to at the major league level, if anyone?

Scott Hode: I've always liked watching (former Cub) Alex Gonzalez. I like Bill Mueller, too, because neither of those two are real flashy. They're consistent and solid, yet not overly fast or powerful. They get the little things right all the time, and that's what I try to do. I try to stay solid on defense and be a good doubles hitter. More than anything, I just try to get on base and make things happen. Mueller played a big part in the Red Sox championship run last year, and Gonzalez was the best defensive shortstop in baseball in 2003. I heard a story about Mueller being drafted in the 15th round and not knowing what was going to happen to his career. All of a sudden, he was up in the big leagues and playing for the Giants. I guess I kind of look to those guys (for inspiration). I really don't know how to compare myself to anyone yet, but if I could, I'd like to be like either one of those two.

Inside The Ivy: What would you say are your strongest and weakest points?

Scott Hode: My biggest strength is the experience and leadership that I've had at Arkansas. I played in the SEC for four years, and I think that's the toughest conference in all of baseball. You play in front of 10,000 fans nearly every weekend. Every game is tense, and this is a competition that never has a down weekend. Regardless of whether or not a team is 3-10 or 10-3, every game is close. Having that experience for four years under Coach (Dave) Van Horn has been one of my strengths. I've learned a lot, such as being a better defensive shortstop and a better contact hitter. As for my weakness, I really don't run well like most shortstops. I really didn't steal any bases this past year, but with me getting to the professional levels, that's one thing I'll be working on more in addition to improving my range at short.

Inside The Ivy: One thing we noticed about you is that you keep getting better each year in terms of hitting – average and OBP. Is that a result of the experience, learning new batting techniques, changing your approaches, or what?

Scott Hode: I definitely think it is more experience-related. When you're a senior, you've been around the block. Even though they have all the scouting reports on you and know how to pitch you, you figure out the pitchers and what they throw, too. You kind of just get comfortable, and that's what I was able to do. Just being able to have that experience for four years is so crucial. Every week, you're facing a potential first round or top 10 (round) pick. Over the past four years, I've worked as hard as I could to be a better hitter. The campus facilities are very good. I was in the cage all the time and tried to be there as much as possible both before and after practice. I think I can still get better.

Inside The Ivy: Give the Cub nation a glimpse of Scott Hode away from the diamond. What do you do when you're not at the park?

Scott Hode: My uncle is an airline pilot for U.S. Airways. He's a captain, and he's had me hooked on aviation forever. If I didn't get a chance to play pro ball, I was going to get a job to pay for flight training. I'm always reading about it. I also love football. I think I got recruited more to play football as a kicker than I did baseball. Every once in a while in the offseason, I'll get my football out and play kick and throw. School-wise, I still have a semester left. My major is kinesiology.

Inside The Ivy: You're a shortstop by default, but do you man any other positions on the field?

Scott Hode: I've played third and second base. Last fall, we had a lot of guys in here. I played at short through most of it, but also five games at third and what have you, so I've had some experience there.

Inside The Ivy: What was your proudest moment at Arkansas?

Scott Hode: It was definitely going to the College World Series last year. Winning a regional and then a super regional here in Fayetteville in front of our fans was certainly special. Getting our chance to go to Omaha and a shot at winning the national title was it for me. That didn't work out, but going to Omaha was still my favorite moment.

Inside The Ivy: And you're heading to the Cubs' spring training complex in Mesa very soon, correct?

Scott Hode: Yes, I'm going out there this week. I'm kind of clueless as to what's going on. (laughing) I'll just do what they tell me to do.

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