Eric Broberg – RHP – Seminole CC: Broberg has yet to sign with the Tigers, but hopes to work things out in the near future so he can start his pro career in one of the short-season leagues. If things don't work out with the Tigers, he's committed to attend Texas Wesleyan this fall. Eric spoke of his attitude on the mound and what influence Seminole Coach Mike Nicholson had on that part of his game, "My mental side of things improved a lot. When you go out there on the mound, he just keeps you tough. He really keeps you in check when you're out there."
With that tough mentality and a hard sinking fastball, Broberg was originally slated to close games for Seminole, but team needs moved him to the rotation. Coach Nicholson indicated that Eric may be better served working in the bullpen in the future, and it seems as though that's Eric's preference as well, simply saying "Closer. No doubt," when asked. Its not just a hard fastball that Eric brings to the table, "I throw a change-up at any time and a curveball. I think my best attribute on the mound is just the way that I go out there." Although there is some uncertainty with regards to his future as a Tiger, Eric seems committed to trying to make it work, saying the following in closing, "I'm just excited. I hope everything works out and I just want to do what I have to do and pitch well."
Keith Hernandez – C – Emporia State: The Tigers acted quickly following the draft to sign the Division II National Player of the Year. It sounds as though the Tigers may have been lucky he was still available, based on the feeling Keith had heading into the draft, "To be honest with you, I was expecting to get drafted. I was expecting to get drafted on Friday. I thought that I had done enough during the season that I thought I had opened some eyes, and opened the door."
Even though there was some disappoint around not being picked in the draft, Keith sounds genuinely excited about his chance with the Tigers, "I didn't really know the Tigers were that interested. The Dodgers had shown some interest, along with a couple other teams, but I'll take it. If they're interested in me, that's the team I want to play for." In speaking with Coach Fornelli at Emporia State, there doesn't seem to be much doubt about Keith's ability to hit, but there may be some question about his ultimate defensive position. Coach Fornelli and Keith both indicated that the Dodgers had made some noise about moving him to the outfield, but right now, that doesn't appear to be the case with the Tigers; "Right now they have me as a catcher. I received all my catcher's equipment today, so I guess I'm going to stick behind the plate. In the future they may tell me they want me to move somewhere, and I'll move anywhere. I just want to stay in that lineup and I'll go anywhere to help the team."
Every player needs motivation during their playing career, and coming off a season where you hit a whopping .462/.569/.882, you might think motivation may be hard to come by. Not so for Hernandez, "I think it gives me a little more motivation. Its kind of personal now. I think I need to show myself and other teams that they should have drafted me. It makes me want to work harder now, and now that I've got that chance I want to take full advantage of it and make something of my professional career."
Ben Guez – OF – William & Mary: "This is what I've been dreaming about my entire life. I fall asleep to the same dream every night, and that's to play in the big leagues." There is little doubt what goals the Tigers 19th round pick out of William & Mary has for himself. Ben Guez wants to be a big leaguer. En route to achieving that goal, Ben would prefer to play center field as opposed to second base where he played this year in college, and that's exactly what the Tigers have in store for him; "I'm one of four outfielders here. I don't imagine I'll be playing middle infield, but if I got some reps at those spots, maybe I could make that move. They haven't asked me to do that, and I'm comfortable in the outfield."
This isn't the first time the Tigers have dipped into the prospect well at William & Mary, picking up Will Rhymes in the 2005 draft. Guez was able to take advantage of a larger connection than that to get some tips on starting his career, "He [Rhymes] actually went to my high school also. Then he went to William & Mary, and now we're both in the same organization. I've been able to talk to him and get some advice on the organization, the towns, what the policies are, and what I need to do to help myself out." One common theme continued in our discussion, as Ben wrapped up his comments by saying, "Just like everybody else here, I want to make it to the big leagues, and this is one step toward that. With that though, I don't want to lose sight of teamwork and us having good team morale while we're here. I just want to go out and play every night like it's my last because you never know when it'll be over, and just hope everything works out."
Brent Wyatt – SS – Lewis & Clark: As with most players, its always a great feeling to get drafted, and it was no different for Wyatt, "It's one of the greatest feelings in the world! It's really something I've been working toward and looking forward to my whole life." As a switch hitter with good ability from both sides of the plate, and positional versatility, Wyatt brings a lot to the table. Lewis & Clark Head Coach Ed Cheff indicated that Brent was ‘Proficient with the bat from both sides, but might have a little more pop left-handed.' When asked, Brent generally agreed with that assessment, saying "I would agree that I have a little bit more power left-handed. I feel comfortable both ways. It's definitely something I think I should keep doing. If I get in there lefty against lefty, I think I'll be in trouble."
One of Wyatt's biggest attributes may be his hustle, and Coach Cheff did his part to compliment his former player for that. Brent also recognizes that's a critical part of his game; "I'm going to go out there and give it everything I have. I'm going to give everything I've got, and hopefully I'm going to be that player my whole career. I'm going to run out every ground ball. There's going to be times where that might not happen, but hopefully I'm going to recognize that and kick myself in the pants for it." I don't think we can ask much more from our new prospects.
Rob Waite – RHP – UC Riverside: Just when you think you know who's interested or what your future may hold, the Tigers come along and make it more interesting. "I was really surprised actually. I had three teams call me in the 15th round. I actually talked to a couple teams a little more extensively throughout the season. I was kind of caught off guard. The A's, Nationals, and Tigers all called me in the 15th round, and then I saw my name pop up on that scroll." Waite is a fastball-slider guy with a change-up in reserve that he admits needs a little bit of work, "I do have a change, but its definitely my third pitch. Coming out of the bullpen, I didn't get to showcase that as much as I'd like to, or work on it as much as I'd like to at Riverside."
It's never too early to get your first ‘big league experience' out of the way, and David didn't waste any time, meeting one of the game's young studs on his way to Lakeland; "On my flight into Houston to catch my connector to Tampa, I actually got to meed Joba Chaimberlain." I'll let Rob sum things up, as he did it best with his closing comments, "I know I can pitch at the big league level. Whether that happens in the next four or five years, which I think it will, you'll see me be a presence out on the mound." Confidence is a good thing in your relief pitchers, and all we can do is hope that Rob's confidence translates to success in the Old English ‘D.'
David Stokes – RHP – Liberty: Contrary to the surprise experienced by Rob Waite, Stokes pretty much knew what might happen, "Bill Buck, the scout, had been talking to me for a while. We kind of had an agreement that if the Tigers drafted me, I was going to go. I kind of figured they would." While there was little uncertainty surrounding the Tigers interest in Stokes, there was definitely some uncertainty arriving in Lakeland; "You don't know what to expect when you leave. When I arrived there I was impressed with the facilities, and I ended up just happy to be around some guys that love the game."
David brings a solid four-pitch mix to the table, including a fastball (mostly a two-seamer), slider, curveball, and change-up, and when asked about his approach on the mound, there was little doubt as to his intentions, "I like to be aggressive. I like to attack guys, and try to get that first strike. I'll go right after ‘em." While it may sound a little cliché, Stokes has a great outlook on what his plan is for this summer, "I'm just going to give it all I've got, go out there and play, and its just for the love of the game, man." Being drafted by a Major League organization is certainly a dream come true for nearly all of these young players, and while that is not lost on David, there was another tidbit that seemed particularly appropriate; "I'm pumped to be here and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's a pretty good job." It might be safe to say that's an understatement, and a fact that I'm sure won't be lost on Stokes any time soon.
TigsTown would like to thank Eric, Keith, Ben, Brent, Rob and David for taking time out of their hectic schedules to chat about their upcoming professional careers, and we wish them the best of luck as they pursue their dreams!