In part one of our three-part series of the Minick Law Hard Hitting Player Feature, I sat down with Asheville Tourists shortstop Ryan Vilade . Ryan answered in depth questions about his time with the Tourists and detailed some other areas of his life.
Ryan, it's your first year with the Asheville Tourists. What has been your impression of full-season professional baseball so far?
The impression I have is that every day matters. Every pitch matters. Not taking an at-bat, a pitch, a game off. Playing every day, you have to have the mindset of playing hard every pitch and enjoying every game; those are some of the things I have found out that is important in my first full season.
Throughout the course of a full season, every player is going to go through ups and downs. Is this the first time in your playing where you have experienced any types of downs as far as performance on the field? And when that happens, how do you react?
Well I actually went through that in late April. I went through a little struggle at the plate. It was really the first time I had gone through a slump where it felt like I really couldn't do anything to make it better. But, the mindset you have to have is one thing that got me out of it; I remembered how I got here. Little things I did in the past, playing winning baseball, not worrying about bad at-bats and just playing the game. Also, your teammates and coaches are there encouraging you - that really helped as well. Once the game happens, you just have to move on to the next one and prepare as best you can.
Number 4, any significance there?
It was my high school number. When I made the varsity team as a freshman it was the only number they had left, so I rolled with it.
Let's go back to when you were drafted. You see your name, then you see the Colorado Rockies. What were your initial thoughts?
I broke down as soon as I heard my name and the fact that the Colorado Rockies selected me was just an unforgettable moment in my life; for my family, for me, for my friends who were all there. I grew up watching Trevor Story play because he was from the same area as me. I knew he was a power hitting shortstop that was drafted by the Rockies and then to hear my name in that category was an unreal moment; to be a part of the next shortstops in this organization.
You've grown up in a baseball family, your dad is a coach. How has that and perhaps his influence helped you?
My dad has had one of the most impacts in my life, with baseball on the field, and everything off the field. He was always the guy I went to for baseball stuff. With him being in the college level and then also the professional side of it too really helped me. Just getting ready for what was to come and knowing about the travel. Knowing the little things about pro ball to get me ready for my turn to come out and play. I've seen how hard it is to play this game and to move up and what it takes is really what I saw from some of the players he has been able to coach in his experience.
Keeper of the Game - What is it? How involved are you and your family in it?
(Ryan is wearing a "Keeper of the Game" shirt) It is a foundation that my dad started. It helps kids with special needs and disabilities be able to do the things that they love. They very involved in Miracle League and they help kids come out to ball games and be a part of the game. They did an event when my dad was in Frisco and even now that he is at Oklahoma State, where they bring everyone with special needs and disabilities out to the game to have fun and interact with people. It's a foundation he started a few years ago and our family is very involved with it. It's just a great thing to give back to the community and help kids who aren't as fortunate as us and be able to share the game with them. For more information on Keeper of the Game- visit KeeperoftheGame.org.
On or off the field, what is one moment that comes to mind where you have had to overcome adversity?
Well, moving as a coaches' kid can always be tough on someone. I moved following my Junior year of High School going into my Senior year. That was definitely something where I had to face some adversity because I was comfortable with everything back home. Baseball was going well, our family was there, girlfriend was back home; then all the sudden my dad gets a job and we have to move to Oklahoma. That was tough but everything happens for a reason. I'm glad I moved to Stillwater because I was able to be close with my dad and our family got to be together again. If I hadn't moved to Oklahoma, I might not be here right now. Whatever happens, you just have to keep going.