Rays Prospect Q & A: Ryan Brett (Part 1)

There were 28 of the best prospects in the Rays' system at the recent Winter Development Program. If I had had time, I would have interviewed them all. Of the player's I missed, I was most disappointed to have not spoken with infielder Ryan Brett. Fortunately, with a little help, I was able to track him down and talk to him last week from his home in Seattle. Inside is Part 1 of that interview.

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Rays Digest: First of all, I was doing a little research on you and a couple of the player's that I've seen you described as being similar to are Dustin Pedroia and Brian Roberts. Could you could give me a scouting report on yourself in terms of what kind of player you are and how you approach playing baseball?

Ryan Brett: My Dad always taught me everything about the game. When I was growing up, he would really work with me on hitting and he would get super close and just throw balls really hard and try and get them by me. So he would challenge me tremendously when I was young and throughout my career so far. Even just the other day he was throwing to me and trying to get me out. So he challenges me.

That's just always the way I've played. I've always been a hard-nosed player. I just have one speed and I just want to go fast all the time. It's just the way my brain is. Playing baseball... I just love it. When I get on the field, I just want to get every bag I can, get every hit I can and just try and get a win for my team. I just get on base however I can and try and get a run in.

Brett got on base frequently in 2011 sporting a .370 OBP in 61 games.

Rays Digest: In terms of your size - you're obviously a little smaller than most guys. Do you think that because of your size that you developed that kind of style of play to kind of give you an edge or would you play that way anyways if you were 6'3"?

Ryan Brett: I think that even if I was big that I'd have the same mentality. If I grew up the same way and I had the same coaching, I think I'd still be the same player regardless if I was 6'3" or 5'9" - like I am. I think being shorter though, I get overlooked. I just try and go out there and perform the best I can at all times.

I work hard in the off-season to maintain my strength and keep up on my legs to make sure that they are in shape for the season, so that I can go hard every day. If I was bigger - like 6'3" - I'd probably have more weight. I'd probably hit balls harder and farther. But I just think that it doesn't make a big difference for me.

Rays Digest: Speaking of off-season preparations - what kinds of things do you do in the off-season while you're working out? Do you do a lot of hitting? Do you do a lot in the gym? Do you do fielding?

Ryan Brett: Last year I was still trying to figure out what I needed to do for the up-coming year. Really, it is all about gathering new information every year. I like to go in almost every day into the weight room. I'll lift in the morning and get conditioning in four days a week -Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. I hit every day around noon till about two. I'll do a little infield work a couple of days a week - later in the day - around 7. It's usually indoors, because it's really cold outside. We got hit hard last week with snow bad. So we really can't get outside much, which is kind of a downfall I feel like.

But then again, we have plenty of indoor facilities to go to. I'm lucky to have one right next my house that has weights there and it actually has a sand pit. We'll do our conditioning there. We'll run and jump on tires. We'll hit big tires with sledgehammers and that kind of stuff just to get our bodies in shape for the upcoming season. Pretty soon here, I'm gonna start going out on the football field and do agility work. It's just stuff in the Rays' handbook that they give us.

Rays Digest: You're from the same neck-of-the-woods as Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson and a bunch of other Rays' guys. It's kind of strange how so many of the top picks from the past few years are from that area of the country. Do you see those guys during the off-season? Do you work out with any of them?

Ryan Brett: Yeah. I work out with Josh every day. His Dad is really good at writing our work-outs for us. Every year he gets new information and he takes stuff from the Rays and what we're doing and incorporates it into our workouts. Every year I feel like our workouts are getting better.

I don't see Drew much. I just saw him at the Winter Development Program of course, but he lives a little bit further away. He lives about an hour and half away. Josh just lives up about a half hour from me, so I see him more - almost every day - when we work out and stuff. But going to that Winter Development Program was fun and getting to see all my buddies that I played with.

Rays Digest: How was your experience there? I know you went to a Lightning game and did some charity events. In addition to working out, what kinds of things did they talk to you about in terms of the mental side of the game and handling media?

Ryan Brett: I had a great time down there. We did some fun stuff - of course - going to the game and seeing all the coaches and just being around the team. On the mental side of it, they really preach about trying not to get down on yourself. Just battle through, because we are playing with the best of the best and you're not always going to get that hit or you're not always going to hit that right spot. Just throw all the bad ones out the window and just keep working hard and improve yourself and your game and don't let your head get in the way of that.

Last year I was struggling a little bit and I was kinda letting it get into my head. I just realized that I have to just fix my mistakes and try and improve my game. If it's talking to somebody on the team or talking to a coach - because there is always people around you to help you. It's the best way I think - and they think - to get through things when things are going bad.

In Part 2 of this exclusive interview: Brett discusses his 2011 season at Princeton, his thoughts on prospect lists and rankings and his desire to become an even bigger base-stealing threat in 2012.


John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.


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