Despite being overlooked for reasons out of your control, like your height or size that you can still play baseball at a high level. How have you always been able to believe in yourself and your abilities?
My parents always raised me to be humble, appreciate what you have, and to set goals for yourself. Throughout my earlier playing days, I had a lot of goals that kept me on track, and I still do to this day. I've gotten it down to a system where I've got my goals that I want to accomplish for each day, for the week, the month, and the year.
I also learned to not let my expectations be too high. I've tended to keep them lower, that way you can't be as disappointed if something doesn't go your way. I've also found that in doing this, I'm much better prepared for a "worst case scenario." In fact, my approach might sound counterintuitive, but I would almost expect the "worst case scenario," that way, I would be prepared when things didn't go the way I wanted them to go.
Take for example when I was going into my junior year of college…there was all of this talk that I was hearing about the MLB Draft, projections of where I might go and all of this stuff, and I ended up not getting drafted at all. During this period was one of the very few times that I had very high expectations, and, as a result, when I didn't hear from any MLB clubs, I was devastated.
I remember the time I was playing summer ball in Canada after my sophomore year, and I was sitting down with some other teammates in our dugout when our radio broadcaster pulled me aside and said, "I've had Max Scherzer, and I've had Chris Sale up here; both guys were overlooked and look where they are now. You just gotta keep your head up and know that it will work out in the end." This was a big turning point for me to hear that-I realized that I needed to just enjoy getting to play baseball while it lasted.
How do you unwind in your free time?
For activities in my free time, I like to play Clash of Clans on my phone and I enjoy playing video games in general. I also get on the app, Pinterest a lot to look up "Do It Yourself" (DIY) projects-I'm a pretty hands-on guy-I like building things and working on projects around my folks' house back home. The last time I was home, my dad and I built a fireplace based off of a DIY project I found on my Pinterest board. It's nice to find these little projects to work on because it gives me some quality time to spend with my dad and my 10-year-old brother.
What have you recently pinned to your Pinterest board?
I want to get into building ponds for fish. I know we've spoken about my fish hobby previously, but, koi ponds specifically are something I'm really interested in building. I also really enjoy researching things-a lot of them are fish-related. Looking up different types of fish and types of tanks, I find that this helps me keep my mind off of baseball. It's something that I enjoy doing and that I'm good at.
I also just like looking up projects that could help out my mom around the house or help my dad out with our yard back home. We have a pretty large yard to work with, and, while my dad isn't getting on Pinterest, if I find a cool project that we can both work on he's all-in.
How did this fish tank building hobby of yours develop?
I had a fish tank growing up, but it wasn't anything special. I always loved going to aquariums and watching all of those really cool fish swim around. As I was growing up, I started saving up my money and doing more research into different types of fish tanks.
I find it to be a really relaxing hobby. When I used to come home from class or a game at Iowa, I had this huge fish tank set up in my room that I would just watch. I know it sounds weird, but there was something so peaceful about just watching my fish swim around the tank.
What's up with the koi pond project? How much upkeep do koi fish need?
Koi fish are really cool. They're kind of on the more expensive side-you buy them when they're really small and they grow really big over time. They're actually pretty easy to take care of-as long as you have a filter and running water, these fish are pretty self-sufficient. Even if the water freezes over in your pond, the koi fish will live, under the ice, at the bottom of the pond.
I've seen some pretty cool DIY koi ponds on Pinterest. People will use old boats, smaller fishing boats or kayaks that are kind of above ground, but added as an element to the koi ponds.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.