Pirates Prospect Interview: Aaron Baker

Aaron Baker

Aaron Baker is having an solid season at High Single A Bradenton. Entering play on July 4 the 24-year old first baseman is hitting .286 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko spoke Baker recently.

GVB – Are you pleased with the season you are putting together?

AB – I am really pleased, but I think it just goes back to hard work during the off season and the previous season trying to figure out my best approach for me personally and my teammates helping me out getting on base. It comes back to a lot of hard work and I give some of the credit to my teammates as well.

GVB – You have had a knack for driving in runs and that is continueing this season, what is behind your solid RBI totals?

AB – When guys get on base we talk a lot as a team about how important it is to drive in runs. Early in the year I think I had like 22 runs batted in the first month of the season and a lot of that is the guys in front of me getting on base and in scoring position and that really makes it easier for me instead of having to hit solo home runs or extra base hits with guys on first base. I've been lucky to be put in that position by teammates. A lot of this is just being in the right spot at the right time.

GVB – The higher batting average is a big bonus, are you surprised by higher batting average?

AB – I'm a little surprised, I've always been a pretty good hitter as far as average goes. My freshman year at Oklahoma I hit .322 or .323 and my junior year I had a bad first half, but was able to get it back up to about .315. Since then my average has been a little lower that it's ever been. I'm just being comfortable and having an idea about my approach and what to do in certain situations and I'm just able to put a good swing on balls and hit balls hard and they are finding holes.

GVB – Have you made drastic changes in your approach at the plate or just tinkered with some things?

AB – A little bit of tinkering, I try to keep things as simple as possible and don't think too much. When I get in trouble is when I try and do too much in the box and when I try to hit the ball too hard. I usually have more success when I try and keep things simple and just try to make good solid contact and the rest will take care of itself. When I get myself in trouble is when I start to press and try and do too much. I just try to stay quiter in the box.

GVB – You played college ball at Oklahoma, could preparation for pro baseball?

AB – Absolutely, and it actually goes back much further than that. Since I was about nine years old my agent now Kevin Hubbard we put together a team with his boy and some of the better players in the north Texas Dallas area and we would travel and play select ball and I've played against the best comptition since I was nine years old and that's kind og how it's always been and it has helped prepare me to be able to make the varsity team out of high school and that got me noticed and I went on to Oklahoma where I was able to have three great years. I've been playing against the best comptition that we could find for my age level or even higher. I've been able to play against the best and that helps to raise your game.

GVB – What were the areas they had you work on in the Instuctional League?

AB – When Greg Ritchie was with us before he took the Major League hitting role, he got together with me and Starling Marte and a few other guys and told me to stay soft because when I ahead with my front foot I tend to drift forward and just try to do too much. He wanted me to work on softening up that front – he like my hands and just wanted me to get that soft front foot.

GVB – Is the power part of you game coming?

AB – It is still evolving, not only is my average up, but I'm able to put up high numbers as far as driving in runs with extra base hits, as long as I can keep those numbers high I'm doing my part to help us win.

GVB – How are you coming along defensively?

AB – I feel like my defense is pretty solid, obviously you can always improve. I feel like defense is more of a mentality, just trying to be ready for every pitch. I feel like fundamentally I'm where I need to be – it's more mental reps and being ready for every pitch.

GVB – You recently were in the Florida State League All Star game and won the top star award with a too run home run. Was that a big thrill?

AB-- Absolutely and both my mother and father were there for the game and it was great to be surrounded by such great ballplayers. Just to receive an award and have the kind of night I had – it was great to get that MVP bat that I will be able to show my kids one day.

GVB – The numbers are good, you feel good about you progress through the system – are you feeling you might move up to Double A?

AB – That's out of my control and there is nothing I can do about that. I can just go out everyday and work hard and make myself a better ballplayer. If I'm supposed to get called up, it will happen when they feel like I'm ready. That's out of my control, all I can control is going out and having a good attitude everyday.

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