Kevin Coddington came a long way in 2009. Drafted in the 44th round (1,319th pick) by the Reds in 2008 out of the University of Illinois-Chicago, he began the season in a platoon role at the catcher position. By mid-season, Kevin was playing in the Midwest League All-Star Game. He entered the month of August hitting .304 before finishing at .277 while playing outstanding defense and emerged as one of the top catching prospects in the Reds organization.
Dragons broadcaster Tom Nichols recently spoke with Coddington. Here is a partial transcript of the interview. Click the link above to listen to the entire interview.
Q: Kevin, considering where you started and where you finished in 2009, the season had to be very satisfying.
KC: It is tough to say satisfying overall when I look at it. I was happy with the year, especially when, out of spring training, I was really just trying to make the team in Dayton. But there are so many areas that I know I can improve upon. It is tough to look back and hang your hat on that because there is a lot more that I want to accomplish and get better at.
Q: What was the toughest thing about playing professional baseball?
KC: The everyday schedule...playing everyday. The summer before, I was in the Gulf Coast League which really isn't a minor league schedule. It's more like a training camp. You wake up at six in the morning. Every fifth day, you have off. Really this was my first experience going through that grind of playing every single day, getting into that schedule. That was a big adjustment. And on top of that, when you are playing 140 games, you see the same guys over and over. That was another big adjustment. Seeing those guys again and the pitchers know you as a hitter pretty well and on the other side of it, you have kind of a clue of what they are trying to do and there are little adjustments you have to make from that standpoint. And the other huge thing for me as a catcher was having to take control of a pitching staff and call a game.
Q: Of all of those things, what is the area where your overall game improved most?
KC: From a mental standpoint, catching and calling a game. Managing things out there from a defensive standpoint. It is something that doesn't show up in the stat column or something that people don't even notice but that is where I think I came along the furthest and I give (pitching coach) Tony Fossas a great deal of credit. He helped me out and I would always try talking to him between innings and after games. That was something that I needed to improve upon big time early in the season and I think I got better at it and having said that, I know I can improve upon it much further and look forward to doing that but that is a big adjustment. In today's day and age, looking back on youth baseball, you know I am from a generation where from the time I can remember I was looking over to the coach in the dugout who was flashing me signs and I was kind of a robot just flashing down numbers to the pitcher and you didn't have to think about things that in depth, you just played the game. And that's kind of a shame today in youth baseball. It's a big adjustment.
Q: Offensively, you were around the .300 mark all season as kind of a spray hitter but we recall late in the season, home runs on back-to-back days (his only home runs of the year came during the final weekend of the season). You are a big guy and certainly capable (of more home runs).
KC: That is something I would like to be able to do. No doubt about it. Is it something I think I am capable of doing? Yes. Do I think I am ever going to be a big time home run hitter? I would guess no, never say never, but I don't think I can take that mindset into the game and into the cage. They say home runs are accidents I think that is the truth. Both of the ones I hit this year, it wasn't like I was going up to the plate trying to hit one out of the park. They were just pitches over the plate to inside part of the plate that I just happened to turn on they got out of the ballpark. I think part of that too, there were some mechanical adjustments that I made at the end of the year that I would like to think helped with that. We will see this year and hopefully I can hit for some more power.
TN: Kevin, thanks. You were certainly a fan favorite at Fifth Third Field and a class guy. We wish you nothing but the best in the future.
KC: Thanks Tom. I had just a great experience last summer in Dayton.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.