Q&A with Russ Canzler

First baseman Russ Canzler is on a hot streak for Class High-A Daytona, batting .333 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs through his first seven games.

Canzler batted .273 during the 2008 season, his first in the Florida State League. The Hazleton, Penn., native, who was drafted in the 30th round of the 2004 draft, recently explained to InsideTheIvy.com his thoughts on playing first base, taking strides to get to Double-A Tennessee, and trying to make a name for himself in professional baseball.

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Q: Another great game (Thursday), you went 2-4. What's fueling this streak?

A: I feel pretty good right now. I'm just trying to having professional at-bats. Being here last year has helped me out a little bit, and I'm at a little bit of an advantage because I know how to hit in this league. It's not an easy league to hit in. I mean, you can tell by the past few games. The wind is blowing in at 20 miles an hour and as a player you have to make those adjustments. I feel comfortable right now and I feel like I'm seeing the ball well. I'm just trying to let everyone in the organization know that I can handle Double-A.

Q: You decided that you wanted to sign out of high school. What merited taking the 30th round rather than going to college and trying to up your draft stock?

A: I saw the opportunity to follow my dream and I took it. I had two great opportunities in front of me. I could have gone to play at the University of Richmond. In the long run, things worked the way I wanted to. I have gotten extra experience with the wooden bat. I have been coached by professional coaches, Hall of Fame coaches, and that's all I ever wanted.

Q: Did you feel like getting picked in the 30th round was where you should have been?

A: I got treated fairly and I got a good deal where I was taken in the draft. The money wasn't the important thing to me; the biggest thing for me is that college was paid for whenever I want to go. I have something to fall back on, and I wanted to follow my dream.

Q: What are you working on in the field? You've played third base a couple times this season and you were drafted as a third baseman, but they have you mostly playing first. Are you comfortable at first?

A: I was, like you said, drafted as a third baseman, but throughout my career I've played third, I've played first, I've even played a little bit of left. Out of spring training this year, they kind of told me to be ready to play all three positions. So I've learned that in this game that you've got to play and perform anywhere you can to keep yourself in the lineup. You don't really want to ever be labeled as a guy that can only play one position; you limit yourself that way. The more positions I can learn and the more positions that I can get good at to keep myself in the lineup, I'll do it.

Q: What are you working on with your swing with Richie Zisk?

A: Richie and I have a great relationship, obviously from me being here last year. Aside from my father who taught me the game, he's probably the guy that knows my swing the best. He knows my flaws; he knows when I'm going good and when I'm comfortable. One thing that I like about working with Richie is that he's got a lot of experience as a major leaguer. He was in the majors for a long time and an all-star too, but he'll also give yourself room to grow on your own a little bit. He'll spoon-feed you what you need to know, but when it's game time, he gives you room to compete and lets you play. That's something I really like about him.

Q: What are your expectations for the rest of the season?

A: No idea. I mean, you never know. All you can control is your attitude and your effort. I try to come into the park everyday with a positive attitude and try to get better every single day, no matter what it takes. All the other stuff is out of my control. I try to make sure that I'm a guy that works hard every day and puts forth a lot of effort in the game and makes sure that I'm trying the best I can. Whatever they think is out of my control.

Q: Are you trying to make an identity for yourself? Do you want to be in Tennessee?

A: Of course. I don't belong in this game if I didn't want to make it to the major leagues. Sometimes guys in the minor leagues -- and I'm guilty of it, too -- set their standards a little low. We get content with staying at a certain level and performing at a certain level and you can't lose sight of what you signed for. I mean, I signed way back in 2004 and I wanted to be a major leaguer. You hit a lot of bumps along the way but you can never lose sight of that. If I was content being here in the Florida State League, I don't belong playing baseball.

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