Tuesday, April 24, 2018

PhoulBallz Quotables: Josh Stephen Interview Excerpts

Josh Stephen, image- Jay Floyd
Last week I wrote a feature on Lakewood outfielder Josh Stephen getting off to a hot start this season and using his bonds in the game to his advantage.  

An 11th round draft pick in 2016, the 20-year-old has posted solid numbers (.263/.378/.474 slash line) through 13 games with the BlueClaws.

I talked with Stephen, a six feet tall 185-pound left-handed batter, at length.  Below are some interview excerpts from the California native that didn't make the original piece.


-Speaking on his initial impressions of Lakewood’s FirstEnergy Park during the team’s initial homestand…

I think it's a beautiful stadium. I was blown away when I got here with how nice it is. It looks like a big league stadium. The fans come in real nice, a lot of fans, so that's new to me. Last year in Williamsport, we came in with a couple thousand and here to see 5,000 on the board was pretty crazy. It's exciting to play out here.

-Stephen shared some thoughts on his early impressions of playing in the South Atlantic League this season…

Every team in this league going to be tough. Every team that comes out want to win. Every starter that gets thrown at us is going to be a quality starter. Everyone's going to be competing.

-I asked if there were players he watched before turning pro that he might have wanted to emulate…

My favorite baseball player right now is Bryce Harper. Mike Trout (too). I'm an Angels fan. I grew up going to Angels games, so Mike Trout and Garrett Anderson and Torri Hunter was always there, and (Albert) Pujols.  Vladimir Guerrero, I saw him play when I was younger. So, all these guys they went through all the same process as me. They're living the dream now. Some of their careers are over.

-Stephen shared some thoughts on his draft experience…

The draft is probably the craziest day of your life. You get told something over and over again and then it's not official until your name is actually called. Draft day was crazy. A couple things didn't work out as planned, but in the end it all worked out and I got what I wanted. In a later round, I got drafted to the Phillies, which is a great organization. They do a great job taking care of us and making us into better baseball players. So, I mean, that experience was crazy. And then getting shipped off to Philly, signing my first contract and getting down to Florida like that, in the snap of a finger, you're in the (Gulf Coast League), you're starting your pro career. It happens so fast. I look back now and it's going to be coming up on two years pretty soon and it all happens so fast. That's why they always say, "Soak it all in and have a great time." Because I mean it does go by pretty fast.

-He offered some insight on the encouragement offered by a pair of team mates, from his youth and now with the Phillies (Luke Williams and Bailey Falter), after he was selected in 2016 draft…

When my name was called by the Phillies (Luke and Bailey) reached out and told me this is a great organization, they do a great job with developmental, especially with high school kids. They take a lot of high school kids, so that part of it was pretty reassuring that I'm in good hands. I mean just, the great piece of information I got was come out here and compete like it's your last day, don't take anything for granted and just play your ass off.

-In discussing his manager, Pat Borders, from his time with short-season A level Williamsport last season, Stephen described how he would enjoy game footage of a guy whose playing days preceded his own baseball watching days…

Last year we would, as a whole team, we would joke around and look up videos of Pat throwing someone out or getting slid over at home plate and we'd make fun of him and we'd joke around a lot. We'd look up fights or whatever. We'd joke around and have a great time with it.
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