BCB Interview: Third-round SS Josh Prince

Josh Prince tags out a runner while playing for the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League last summer. (Green Bay Press-Gazette)
The Helena Brewers kick off their season tonight, and starting at shortstop for them will be Josh Prince, the Brewers' third-round pick in this year's draft. Prince hit .353/.467/.541 for Tulane this year and led Division I with 48 steals. He was nice enough to take some time before his professional debut to talk to me.

BCB: It’s been a couple weeks since the draft, and you're about to make your pro debut tonight. What's been happening in the interim?

JP: The Sunday after the draft, the Brewers flew me to Helena, and ever since then we've been practicing and intersquad-ing.

BCB: Did you have to go to Arizona at all?

JP: Nope.

BCB: Ah, you lucked out.

JP: [laughs] Yeah, the weather here is a little different. Some of the guys were in Arizona and they said it was miserable.

BCB: Yeah, that's one of the two universal things I hear from Brewers minor leaguers: Arizona is miserable, and the fishing in Helena is great.

JP: That’s what I hear.

BCB: Do you know any of your new teammates from the past?

JP: No, I’ve played against a couple of them, but I didn’t know them personally.

BCB: Is that hard to adjust to? Going from a team you know well to being thrown together with a bunch of people who don't know each other at all?

JP: No, not for me. I’m a very outgoing person, and I get to know everyone really quick, and I try to make the adjustment easy for everyone. Early, we’re around each other for so long, with nothing else to do besides talk to each other, and so we learn about each other and become friends.

BCB: So it's almost like a boot camp-type scenario.

JP: [laughs] Kinda. It’s very helpful, and I think it’s necessary.

BCB: Who's your double-play partner?

JP: Cutter Dykstra.

BCB: Is it hard to find the rhythm with a new partner?

JP: Every second baseman you play with has a different rhythm, but it doesn’t take that long to find the person’s rhythm when you take ground ball after ground ball.

BCB: It's probably helpful for him to have such an experienced shortstop next to him as he's trying to convert back to second base, too.

JP: I would say thanks, but he knows what he’s doing, so I don’t have to help him very much.

BCB: So, you were one of the first picks to sign. You were pretty eager to get out there and play, huh?

JP: Yes I was. I love the game of baseball, and I didn’t want to try to bargain for a couple thousand more dollars. I wanted to get out here and take my first steps of becoming a big leaguer as soon as I could.

BCB: Eric Arnett had the same attitude, and it endeared him to a lot of Brewers fans. Do players begrudge other players that are seen as the greedy, holdout type?

JP: I really don’t know how other players see it, but for me, I like playing with players who love to play, and if they love to play then I’ll love to play with them.

BCB: That's a good answer. So was the third round about where you expected to go?

JP: Um, you never know how those things work. I was told pre-draft as early as the second but no later than the fourth, so I just prepared myself for the fourth, and if it happened before then than I would just be surprised.

BCB: Can you tell me a bit about why you transferred to Tulane from Texas after your freshman year?

JP: One, it just wasn’t a fit for me. Two, I’ve always known I’m going to play in the big leagues, and my family and I are really close, and I wanted them to be able to watch as many games as they could because in a couple years they won’t be able to come see me play as often. But since I’m from Louisiana and Tulane is in Louisiana, it was a closer drive, and they were able to come and watch me every weekend.

BCB: It must have been frustrating to struggle so much in your first season at Tulane, then.

JP: Yeah, it was, but I wouldn’t trade that season for anything. I really knew I could do it after I jumped back from that season and had a great summer and a great year this year. It taught me to never give in and that I’m good enough.

BCB: Do you attribute it to the astigmatism, or was there something else?

JP: No, it was the astigmatism. As a player who has had success his whole life, you don’t know what a slump feels like, and I thought I was in a slump because I wasn’t able to pick up spin, but as soon as I got glasses I could see spin again.

BCB: Kind of like Major League?

JP: Yeah.

BCB: Do you think that made you a little underrated coming into the draft?

JP: Yeah, I do, because if the scout doesn’t know enough about you before the eyes, then they just constantly see the bad sophomore year and don’t want to take a chance on you. It just doesn’t look good to have a bad year with an aluminum bat, but it also does look better to have a bad year, get glasses, and then have two good seasons.

BCB: Especially when you're a good defensive shortstop. Guys that can stick at short and hit are pretty rare.

JP: Exactly. I feel like I’m the rare breed.

BCB: Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus said you had "blinding" speed. What do you think of that?

JP: [laughs] I like that quote.

BCB: Throw a couple more adjectives out like that and describe your game a bit.

JP: Play hard, competitor, future Gold Glover, future All-Star, season stolen base leader.

BCB: Ah, so you're going to keep running?

JP: Yeah.

BCB: Excellent. So, you got a little experience in Wisconsin last summer, playing for Green Bay. What did you think of it?

JP: I loved it. To me, the most amazing thing I have ever heard in my life is the support and dedication the Brewer fans have. No matter where I was in Wisconsin, everyone boos the Cubs and screams for the Brewers. No one in Louisiana pulls for the same team. [laughs] Everyone [in Wisconsin] loves the Brewers.

BCB: Which team did you grow up as a fan of? Braves? Cards?

JP: I grew up a fan of Ozzie Smith, Derek Jeter—players, not teams.

BCB: Well, hopefully you end up playing ball in Wisconsin this summer too, in Appleton.

JP: I hope so.

BCB: Is there anything else you want to say, anything you want people to know about you?

JP: I’m a very easygoing guy that loves to hunt and play Halo, and pretty soon it will be a Prince-to-Prince putout in the bigs.

BCB: [laughs] Sounds good. Well, best of luck to you tonight.

JP: Thanks.

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