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MLB draft 2017: An interview with Drew Waters

The switch-hitting outfielder agreed to speak with Bless You Boys. Here’s what he said.

In an an effort to bring you the best coverage possible in the weeks leading up to the Rule 4 Amateur Draft, Bless You Boys has been sitting down with some of the best talent available to teams this June. The goal is to not only get to know these players better as young talent, but also as people. Drew Waters, a prep outfielder from Georgia is the subject of this interview. He is rated by as being the 39th best player available to teams this June.

Waters is a tools prep outfielder who would undoubtedly be an overdraft with the 18th overall pick. He will also likely be long gone by the time the Detroit Tigers are on the board for the second time, at pick number 57. This puts Detroit’s front office in a tight spot. The Tigers’ scouting department has reportedly become enamored with the young hitter. Scouts have far better things to say about Waters’ defense than his offense, which is average. He also has a strong and seemingly unbreakable mindset.

Drew Waters Scouting Report:

Hit: 50
Power: 50
Run: 60
Arm: 55
Field: 60

Bless You Boys: In Jim Callis’ recent Mock Draft, he said that there was “persistent talk” that the Tigers have you near the top of their draft board. What do you think is your strongest tool that they’re attracted to?

Drew Waters: Probably one of my strongest tools is my ability to switch-hit and being able to do it with power from both sides of the plate. They’ve seen my play on four different occasions and last week the GM actually came and saw me play. He saw me hit two home runs, one in the first which was a solo home run and one later in the game which was a grand slam. Throughout those four times they’ve seen me play, they’ve seen me hit nine home runs, so I know they’re attracted to me bat. Also, I have a big arm from the outfield which I think they’re also attracted to.

BYB: Are you more confident in your ability as a hitter or in your ability as a defender and a runner which as consistently been rated as plus by scouts?

DW: Honestly, I think I’m more of an offensive player. I know scouts in the past have thought that the hit tool wasn’t all the way present, but I feel like in the offseason, I got a lot stronger, and I’ve changed a couple pf things in my swing, which has made me more effective against pitching.

BYB: What’s the most difficult part of playing against tough pitching?

DW: The most difficult thing is probably facing guys with three legitimate pitches, because if they’ve got three pitches and they can throw all three for strikes, then, one, they're gonna be able to keep you off balance, but at the same time, you’ve really gonna have to stick to your approach and make sure you’re not changing anything. For the most part, I’ve seen a couple of tough pitchers throughout the high school season, but I feel like I’ve handled them well and I feel like I’ve been effective.

BYB: Being effective in baseball requires adaptation. How have you adapted to those pitchers that you’ve been effective against?

DW: Just picking up on certain things they do. Most high school pitchers tip their pitches, and I feel that I’m a very aware hitter, so there are things that I know before the pitch is even thrown. But you start to get used to what they’re thinking and you pick up on their tendencies, so you start learning what they like to throw in certain counts, and start to be able to predict what’s coming to start the count. ... I also feel like I have really quick hands, so I feel like not only knowing what the pitch is gonna be but also knowing that I might not hit that pitch because I might be wrong, so I’m able to adjust because of how fast my hands are.

BYB: Is there something about you or about the way that you play the game that scouts may be overlooking?

DW: I think I’m a smart baseball player - I think scouts know that - but I think one thing I do really well is that I play the game a lot faster than my “60 time.”* I’m a quick runner, but I feel like I use my speed to my advantage. I’m always on the move.

BYB: How do you spend your time outside of baseball?

DW: I spend most of my time either out at the lake with my boat or at the gun range with my brother and dad, but, for the most part, my time is spent playing baseball or practicing baseball.

BYB: When you’re practicing, is there someone you try to model your game after, or do you play your own way?

DW: A lot of people ask that question, and I feel like I play the game different that everyone else. There haven’t been too many switch-hitting centerfielder with a big arm that played in the major leagues. Not many guys like Mickey Mantle have played. I personally don’t model my game after anybody just because I feel like I play it my own way. I play aggressive and I play fast, but I don’t emulate anybody.

BYB: You’re right, there haven’t been too many switch-hitting centerfielders with a big arm. That leads me to wonder, though, will you be able to stick there long-term, or is a move to right in your future?

DW: I feel like I’m going to stay in center field just because of my athleticism and because of my speed, but I feel like if I were to make the move to right field, I would be very effective at it, just because I am super athletic and I do have a big arm. Organizations are staring to put true centerfielders in all three positions and I feel like in any of those three positions I can have an impact, but as of right now, I’m gonna say centerfield.

BYB: Besides the Tigers, are there any other teams that seem to be particularly interested in you?

DW: At the game that I played last night, there were probably fourty-plus scouts [in attendance], so a lot of teams in the middle of the first round and the late first round have shown a lot of interest, but I definitely think the Tigers are on me the most. Their national guys are at almost every single one of my games, so while the Tigers are super interested, there are a lot of other teams that are just as interested.

BYB: How committed are you to going to Georgia if you’re taken in the middle of the first round?

DW: If I’m taken in the first round, I think I’m gonna go ahead and start my professional career. I feel like right now I’m ready to start my professional career based on my tools and my mature mindset about the game, and I feel like I’m ready to start my professional career and make my way up to the big leagues.

BYB: When did you realize that a professional career was an actual possibility for you?

DW: I realized it this past summer. I wasn’t really much of a showcase-type player, and I went to my first showcase in early June, and when I went to that first showcase, it was actually Perfect Game National, and I was at the top of the boards in almost every category in the showcase part. Then, when it came time for the game, I recorded three of the hardest hit balls of the entire event - they came off my bat at like 105 mph - so that started bringing a lot of interest. Then, about a week later, I got a call saying I had made the Perfect Game All-American Team and a day after that, I got a call saying I made the Under Armour All-American Team. So, when I made those teams, I know that they were for the most elite batters, so I knew I had a chance to be a pretty high draft pick if I continued to do what I was doing.

BYB: Tell me a little more about the showcasing process.

DW: The show casing process, a lot of guys do it, and that’s how I think guys get out there and get noticed. The reason I’m “not much of a showcase player” is because it’s hard for me to really get things going, just the momentum and stuff throughout the game, and I’ve never really done the showcases because I’ve always been playing, but the Perfect Game guys actually called my dad and said “hey, you’ve got to come to this event” and I wasn’t really open to it at first, I was like “no, dad, I’m not really much of a showcase-type player, I don’t know if I want to go.” I ended up going, and that was really the first showcase I ended up going to and that was really the only showcase I went to this summer, but after that, I knew it got me on the national notice and I knew that it benefitted me, but I’m glad I didn’t really go to too many showcases, just because I didn't want to be branded as the showcase player.

BYB: What do you think is the key to a successful future in this game?

DW: The key to my success in the game of baseball, and I would personally say for anybody, is to focus more on winning and competing throughout the game rather than who’s at your game and getting to the next level of the minor leagues. If you focus more on winning and more on competing and going down and just playing hard, you’ll be very surprised with how well you play and how you do individually as a player.

Thank you to Drew Waters for agreeing to speak with us at BYB and for providing the picture used in connection with this article.