For an organization focused on rebuilding its farm system (currently ranked 19th according to this Keith Law Insider article), particularly on the hitters' side, 18-year-old third base prospect Bryce Denton figures to be an integral part of this process. Drafted in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the Cardinals have clearly invested heavily in Denton, who made his name known among draft prospects through the potential of his bat. After getting a mere taste of professional baseball last season, Denton looks to settle in this season. Fortunately, before getting minor league spring training ramped up, I was able to ask the young prospect a few questions, and you will find his answers below.
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Right
- Height: 6'
- Weight: 190
- Born: August 1, 1997 (Age 18)
- Acquired: 2nd round, 2015 Draft
Minor League Statistics (Gulf Coast League)
Viva El Birdos: Growing up as a fan of the Cardinals, which players did you look up to as a child?
Bryce Denton: Man, that is a tough one, but I would definitely say Mark McGwire. I was actually in the old Busch Stadium in '98 when he hit his 60th home run. But I was only 1 at the time so I don't remember it. My dad had given me the nickname "LilBigMac" because I always would try to imitate his home run swings. Besides Big Mac, Pujols was a close second. I think when he really became a guy that I loved was in '04 against the Astros in the playoffs. My older brother, Chase, had just run in and woke me up to come watch the last inning because the Cardinals were facing elimination. I was 7 at the time and asleep for school the next day, but ran in there, and I remember this moment like it was yesterday. Eckstein had the seeing eye single, Edmonds walked, and Albert put one on the train tracks to give them the lead against a Brad Lidge hanging slider. He was very dynamic and a pleasure to watch growing up. Cardinal baseball was a practically a religion in the Denton household, and still is to this day. There are many guys I loved watching over the years and could tell you many heroic things that I watched them do, but those two top the list for me.
VEB: It is obviously very early in the process of your professional career, but have you had any regrets forgoing your opportunity to play at Vanderbilt?
BD: I have not. The program there at Vanderbilt is an excellent one. The school, the coaches, the players, they are all fantastic people, and they do things the right way. But, I will never regret having the opportunity to play for my favorite team. There is not one place on Earth that I would rather be right now.
VEB: We saw the Vine of you hitting a back-to-back batting practice home runs, one lefty and one righty. Have you ever considered switch hitting or was that just simply for fun?
BD: I actually was a switch hitter growing up, but focused primarily on being right handed in games. I would always hit BP and do tee work lefty, but just never got the at bats to get it down. When I did get at bats, I just didn't see the ball well at all. It ended up being my freshman year when I quit, and I decided that if I wanted to be an impact varsity player, I would have to just put my attention to working only on right handed. My little brother, Zane, is now a freshman, and he was at the same fork in the road. He decided to keep to it and really push his left handed the past few years and it is paying off for him. That day at the field was just for fun, and I honestly didn't think I would hit it out of the infield.
VEB: What would you consider your biggest strength on the diamond? Area for improvement?
BD: My biggest strength would be just coming every single day ready to give all I have towards any aspect of training or in the game. I love baseball, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to be here. I will never take a day for granted. As far as improvements, I have a lot to improve on, and I will keep busting my tail to get better each and every day.
VEB: Take us back to draft day, what was that entire process like for you being a lifelong Cardinals fan? Who was the first player within the organization to contact you if any (and subsequently, what did he have to say)?
BD: That night was an unbelievable night, and I would not have it any other way. I was in shock. It was one of those "Did this really just happen?" type of moments, but in the best of ways. I don't think I moved out of my chair for a good 30 seconds. My dad was such a huge Cardinals fan, and he was the main reason my three brothers and I were all so into it growing up. He passed two years ago, and I can't help but think he was heavily smiling down.
VEB: If possible to put into words, what would you consider your hitting philosophy at this point in your career?
BD: My main thing is being consistent. I was fortunate to be able to work with Mookie Betts, Ben Zobrist, Chase Headley, Logan Forsythe, and Matt Murton all offseason. Those guys are all just as great of people as they are ballplayers, and I soaked it up.
VEB: Finally, if you could only eat one food item for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
BD: The one food I would eat for the rest of my life would be tilapia. I have always eaten tilapia, and it is a consistent daily protein source in my diet. It doesn't really have a real fishy taste and is just amazing. Very low in calories and very high in protein.
I thank Bryce for taking the time to answer these questions. It's hard not to root for a fellow Cardinals fan. You can follow him on Twitter: @brycedenton25.