Sunday, September 30, 2018

2018 Exit Interview: First baseman Madison Stokes

Madison Stokes, image- Jay Floyd
Selected in the 10th round of this year's MLB amateur draft, corner infielder Madison Stokes was quick to make an impact in his pro career, helping the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws reach the postseason.

The 22-year-old righty hitter enjoyed a swift ascent, playing six games in the rookie level Gulf Coast League before earning a promotion to Class A short-season Williamsport.  As a member of the Crosscutters, Stokes sported a .338/.452/.506 slash line in 22 games.

Promoted again to Lakewood in early August, the South Carolina native would posted a .260 average with a homer and 11 RBI in 27 contests.

Prior to the end of the season, I chatted with Stokes, a University of South Carolina product, about his transition to the minor leagues, his draft experience and more.  Read ahead for that interview.


-What experiences did you have prior to the draft that prepared you most for playing pro ball?

I think playing in the ACC in that conference for sure has prepared me for the pitching and the pace of the game.  The coaches there they prepared us for this level of pro ball.  I give props to them.  But I think playing in the best conference in college baseball has for sure prepared me for it, as far as the pitchers, the hitters and the pace of the game.

-How big of an adjustment was it or what was the transition like from college to the minor leagues?

Yeah, it's not much different.  You're just meeting new guys, trying to learn names.  Especially with coordinators and managers.  So, trying to learn all the names, get acclimated moving up to different teams, and I started out in the GCL and the pace of that game compared to here is different.  So, just try to acclimate yourself to the level of pace of that game the level of competition, as it obviously gets better as you move up.  Just try to make in-game adjustments, as far as everyone out there competing and meeting new guys and learning how to play with them.

-What did you know about the Phillies organization before you signed with them?

Not a whole lot.  Not a whole lot, no.  I found out on Twitter that I got drafted by the Phillies and I was really excited.  I had a teammate a couple years back that got drafted by the Phillies, Kyle Martin.  So, I didn't know a whole lot about them.

-What's your relationship with Kyle?  He's a guy that's played in the system for a few years and he's been through here with the BlueClaws.

We were good buddies when we were in school.   I haven't talked to him lately.  I know he's over there in Clearwater.  I haven't had communication with him.  But he's one of my good buddies.

-Finding out about getting drafted on Twitter seems pretty unique.  I think most guys would gets a heads up ahead of time.  How did that go?

I was with my girlfriend on the couch, after we were cleaning her house, just waiting (for any news) and she saw my phone light up, found out on Twitter that my name got called.  She freaked out and ran outside.  I looked at my phone and it said I got drafted by the Phillies.  Then, my scout called me.  So, it was a really exciting time.  It was a humbling and cool moment.

-How did you celebrate?

We had a little leaving party before I left to get started with my pro career.  I guess it was kind of a celebration to have some family and friends and old coaches, people that have meant a lot to my life and people that have helped me get to where I am today.  So that was really neat to have them there for me that day.

-Was there a team or a player that you grew up as a fan of?

I didn't watch a lot of baseball growing up.  Just because we were out in the country in a small town and we didn't watch a lot of television.  I guess maybe a little bit of the Braves, if any team at all.  I liked Derek Jeter and I enjoyed watching a bunch of those guys.  I never really had a favorite team.  I guess Derek Jeter would be my favorite player.

-Was it that you were busy playing the game as opposed to watching others play it?

Well, now I watch as much baseball as I can.  Before, we were out in the country, we were always outside just doing whatever.  We weren't really allowed to stay inside and play video games and sit in front of  the TV screen.  But the more I got older, the more I played the game, the more I loved the game and the more I watched it.  Now, I watch as much as I can.

-Is there a guy that stands out more than others as a guy you would watch more and maybe want to emulate?

I really enjoy watching Mike Trout just because he has so much fun playing the game and he's the best player, I personally think.  But I'll pick out things from every single player that I can.  I watch every player that comes on hoping to see what could work out for me that I could pick out from them.  But I enjoy watching Mike play.  I enjoy watching Alex Bregman play, Carlos Correa.  They just play the game really hard and you tell they have a lot of passion for the game.

-Are you looking forward to instructs?

For sure!  It's exciting.  There'll be a bunch of coordinators there and I can continue to build relationships with them, get to know them, allow them to get to know me as a person and a player.  And I think it's great opportunity for me and a couple guys to go down there and go to instructs.
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