LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Shortstop Zack Cozart was a second round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 out of the University of Mississippi. In just his third full professional season, Cozart has already become a lynchpin at the triple-A level, leading the Louisville Bats in games played, hits, doubles, and stolen bases. This past week, batsbaseball.com got a chance to do a pre-game interview with the 24-year-old Cozart, who had this to say.
You were an all-star in your first two full seasons at the pro level, once at single-A and last year at double-A. In 2010, you are among the league leaders in several categories. What do you think has been the key for you to continue to play at a high level as you have moved up in competition?
I think it's just getting that experience. I didn't get to play high-A, I went straight from low-A to double-A. Now being here, you're facing big leaguers every other day, so it's definitely a confidence thing.
This season, you have already eclipsed your career high in home runs and shattered your career-best in stolen bases. What has been the key to you being even more successful in these areas than you were over the past few years?
I think the power comes from me just being more consistent with my swing and hitting balls harder. As far as stolen bases, I've never really tried to steal a base before, but this year, I stole a couple a bags and got confident in it. It's just like anything, you have to be confident, and now I feel like I can steal on anybody.
You have played in 105 of Louisville's 109 games this year, more than any other Bats player. Describe the advantages and challenges of being an everyday player at this level, as opposed to getting more days off or being a spot player.
I love playing every day. The advantages are that you get in a better rhythm. If you're struggling, you get to play the next day and try to get out of it. Some disadvantages are that your body breaks down, but that's just part of baseball. You just have to keep conditioning and stay in shape.
After finishing up last season with the Carolina Mudcats, you played in the Arizona Fall League. Describe that experience and explain how it helped your development.
It helped. You're facing young guys who are going to be big leaguers in the future. I think it got me some exposure, both with the Reds and other teams, and I just rode that confidence into this year.
As you continue to play at triple-A and try to get to the major-league level, what area of your game do you think is your strong suit, and what aspects of your game do you think you need to work on the most?
I need to work on everything, but strong suit wise, defense is what I always take pride in number one. I'm out there mainly for defense, and I feel like my hitting has come around as of late. Hopefully I can keep that going throughout this year, and hopefully next year I'll get my chance to prove I can play in the big leagues.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.