D-backs Draft Q&A: 17th-Rounder Ryan Babineau

Ryan Babineau was drafted as a junior out of UCLA and is "leaning towards signing" with the Arizona Diamondbacks rather than play out his senior year. In this candid exclusive, the excellent defensive catcher talks about learning to call a game, improving his power output, and his decision not to sign with the Brewers in 2005.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Ryan Babineau in the 13th round of the 2005 draft.  Babineau elected instead to attend UCLA, and he fell to the 17th round in this 2008 draft. 

A defensive-minded catcher, Babineau has thrown out 45 of 115 attempted base stealers in three years at UCLA (39.1%).  He also helped the UCLA pitching staff post its second-lowest ERA (4.45) in 16 seasons.  He has struggled offensively of late, batting just .223 in the Cape Cod League last summer and a homerless .247 with the Bruins this year.

The full interview transcript appears below. You can also

FutureBacks.com: Did you know coming into the draft that the Diamondbacks were one of the most interested clubs?

Ryan Babineau: No, I didn't, actually.  I thought some other teams had more interest than the Diamondbacks did.  The interest level was there, however, I didn't think it was going to end up working out.  It shows that you never know what will happen in a draft, and I'm just really excited to be a Diamondback.  

FB: So is there any consideration about going to UCLA for another year?

RB: No, I definitely want to sign.  I'm leaning towards signing. I'm just hoping that we can work something out quickly, and I can get out and go play.

FB:  I've noticed this year that your power numbers are down a little bit, but you've been striking out a little less and getting on base more.  Is there something that you consciously did to change your swing?

RB: Yeah, you know what?  I definitely wanted to cut down on my strikeouts from last year.  I was over 50, and if you're not going to hit a bunch of home runs, you shouldn't be striking out much.  However, I don't know what the answer was this year as far as not hitting home runs.  I don't really know what to tell you there.  But I do know that there is power in the swing! [Laughs].  I just for whatever reason didn't connect. 


FB: I would think so; you're obviously a pretty big guy...

RB: Yeah, it's there.  I hit six my freshman year and five last year, so I'm definitely capable of putting the ball out of the yard.

FB: Have you tinkered around with wooden bats?  Do you think that will be a big adjustment for you?

RB: I played two summers in the Cape Cod League.  I actually enjoy using the wood bat more than I do using the aluminum bat.  It keeps your swing more true, helps you be short and compact, and I think that will be really good for me.

FB:  You're definitely known as a good defensive catcher.  What aspect of your defensive game do you take the most pride in?

RB:  I really take the most pride in working with pitchers, to be honest with you.  I think, in order for any team to be successful, you need to have a good pitcher/catcher relationship.  I'm really excited to work with a staff and have a chance to call my own game.  I think it's going to be a great challenge, and I'm really excited that I'm going to know that I'm going to have an opportunity to do that in the next couple of weeks.

FB: Did you call games during any of your years at UCLA?

RB: I've never called a pitch at UCLA.  I've called games in the Cape Cod League, but coach Savage really took pride in his pitch calling and his scouting reports.  That was just something that he felt was best for the team.

FB:  Is your arm ahead of your blocking abilities or are your blocking abilities just as good?

RB: Definitely, I've been known for catch-and-throw.  That's kinda been my forte throughout my short career.  But I think I've definitely improved considerably in my blocking ability.   I would say my catch-and throw is my best aspect of defense as far as block-and-receive or catch-and-throw.  But I think I've been leveling the playing field as far as evening those out. 

FB: So if you had one goal as you enter your professional career, would it be to improve your offense, or to learn how to call a game?

RB:  You know what?  I don't want to say that I feel I can call a great game, but I'm pretty confident that I'm going to be able to call a good game.  I think that, obviously, I went as low as I did based on the fact that my offensive numbers were very, very sub-par this year. I'm aware of that. 

I think I'm going to hit.  I don't know when it will be, but hopefully sooner rather than later.  I have confidence in my abilities, and I've hit my entire life, so I have no reason to think that I'm not going to be able to do it now.  So definitely, offense is one of the things I need to step my game up in if I want to get to the next level.  

FB:  Do you have any regrets about not signing with the Brewers out of high school?

RB: Regrets?  No, not at all.  I had a good chance to go... they made it worth it for me to go, however, my three years at UCLA, the experience, what I've learned: that's all made it a lot more worth it than going out of high school.  Everybody out of high school thinks they're ready to play, and I think that they probably get shocked when they do go play.  Coming out of college: three years living on your own, living with guys on your team... it's just not going out there at 18-years old, saying, "here you go: go make a living for yourself"  [Laughs].  You have a little leeway when you're in college, and it's just a learning experience on a bunch of different levels.

Send questions or comments for Keith Glab to future_backs@yahoo.com

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