Konrad Schmidt, 26, hit .315 with 11 home runs and 65 RBI in 107 games with the Mobile BayBears this year, earning him the team's Offensive Player of the Year honors. His batting average, .490 slugging average, and .863 on-base-plus-slugging led the BayBears while his 30 doubles, 11 homers, and 65 RBI ranked second. Schmidt is a .298 hitter over 365 minor league games and has thrown out 30% of would-be basestealers over the past three seasons.
FutureBacks.com: Was your promotion a surprise, or had the organization hinted that you might be called up in September?
Konrad Schmidt: There were some hints, nothing official... it was a surprise. It had been a long road, and when you finally hear that you were going, it was shocking.
FB: You've always been known as more of a defense-first catcher, but the past couple of years your offensive game has really taken off. What adjustments have you made to make that happen?
KS: People have always said that I'm a defense-fist catcher, but I've always hit. I've always kind of took that with a chip on my shoulder. I've just got better and made adjustments as it came, but I've always known that I could hit. I've just been paying attention to the hitting coaches; the scouting is so amazing, now. Better gameplans and approach - that's where it all comes from.
FB: How nervous were you in your first at-bat?
KS: I was nervous, no doubt about it, but I was actually kind of surprised with how focused I was. I felt like I belonged.
FB: A lot of the pitchers here are guys that you've worked with. Are there any that you have a particularly good rapport with?
KS: Yeah, obviously Jordan Norberto and Barry [Enright], I've always worked really well with. I think even this year in Double-A, me and Barry had a good thing going on and I tool a lot of pride when he called up, because I felt I had a little bit to do with that, being his catcher. I was so happy for him. Those two, right off the top of my head right now.
FB: Obviously, Barry Enright was dominant for his first twelve starts but has scuffled for the past few. Have you guys talked about what might be going wrong with him?
KS: Not so much. It's a grind, and this is the major leagues. These are good hitters, and a couple of bad outings in a row, I don't think is a concern. He's confident, and I'm confident that he'll be just fine.
FB: Other than calling the game, what aspect of your defense do you take the most pride in?
KS: Throwing. I like to throw guys out. Calling the game and blocking the ball. I take a lot of pride in getting the guys out. When you're not swinging the bat very well or if you go o-fer, if you guys win, you still know you're doing your job as a catcher.
FB: I've heard some of the other pitchers you've worked with say that you're one of the best catchers as far as framing pitches. Do you have a particular philosophy with that?
KS: You know, I don't. The term 'framing' is an interesting term. I just try to catch the ball where it is. There's no moving the glove or anything. There are some tricks you can do with where you catch it in the glove, but when you deal with guys who throw very hard, or there's runners on base, you don't really want to mess with that too much. You don't want to risk not catching the ball. So I think I just like to give the umpire a good look. My philosophy is 'balls are balls, strikes are strikes.' I just kind of stick it where it is and it seems to work.
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