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MLB draft 2017: An interview with Nick Pratto

The first baseman is a top draft talent, and may sources say that the Tigers are in the mix to draft him.

Nick Pratto 2017 MLB Draft

In 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. The final interview that we conducted was with Nick Pratto, a first baseman from the powerhouse high school of Huntington Beach.

Pratto is a good all-around talent, with a well-balanced profile. His bat is the main attraction. He features excellent bat-to-ball ability and a skillful, patient approach at the plate. He makes consistent hard contact and will grow into more power as he develops. His fielding is also spectacular, far better than one would expect from a first baseman, especially a prep player. His glove is rated as plus, and he pairs it with a strong and accurate arm. He was considered a two-way prospect when the season opened, but his hitting took suck a step forward that it far outshines has pitching.

Despite the fact that he will undoubtedly be taken as a hitter, Pratto could have been taken in the supplemental first or second round as a pitcher. He has a high-80s to low-90s fastball from the left side with good feel for a curveball and decent command. If hitting doesn’t work out, a return to the mound could be the saving grace for his career.

This interview was conducted on May 27, 2017.

Bless You Boys: The reason I reached out to you was because Jim Callis’ recent mock draft projects that you’ll be selected by the Detroit Tigers. However, you’re seen as a top talent and other have mocked you much higher. Where do you think you might be able to land?

Nick Pratto: I have no idea how this is all going to play out and I don’t have much of a say in team’s decisions, so it’s kind of a guessing game for me.

BYB: Are there any teams that have shown particular interest in you?

NP: I mean, I’ve met with all 30 teams. Some teams have shown more than others, and I don’t feel comfortable mentioning any just because I don’t wanna blow their hand or anything. The Tigers are definitely up there, among others, but we’ll see how it goes.

BYB: Earlier this year, you were considered as a pitching prospect as well as a first baseman, but now teams have decided they prefer you as a batter. Which one do you enjoy more?

NP: I enjoy hitting more. I just enjoy playing every day as opposed to having to limit myself to every fifth day. There’s something special about hitting that I really enjoy.

BYB: The two tools of yours scouts seem to like best are your ability to make contact and your glove, and they’re graded about equally. Which are you more comfortable with?

NP: I’ve always had the glove, and it isn’t something that took me a long time to develop. As of right now, the bat’s really starting to come around. I’m starting to figure out my swing more and learn new things about hitting every day. It’ll be interesting to see which one outplays the other.

BYB: For all the reading I've done, I can only find two thing that is listed as a concern for you: your speed and how much power you will develop. Are you doing anything to improve those parts of your game in particular?

NP: Yeah, I’m always looking to improve areas of my game, and I have no worries about the power. I don’t think that’s of any concern. The workout routines I follow are aime d towards improving the speed area, and obviously reaction time and quickness are also a part of that.

BYB: No one has much doubt that you’ll develop power, but there is some question as to how much. Some see 20 home runs as your max, others predict as many as 30. Where do you think you’ll end up?

NP: I’ve always believed in developing my hit tool first and letting the power come later. It’s hard to hit 30 home runs without being able to be a hitter as well. I think that gives me an advantage over other hitters and I think that it is going to allow me to hit those 30 home runs, possibly, and more, hopefully.

BYB: That being said, are there any ballplayers you’ve tried to model your game after?

NP: I’ve always looked at various hitters. I try to look at left-handed swings, mostly, but Rizzo I watch a little bit. There’s some things that are really good in his swing. Other than that, just really anyone I can find. I mean, all the greats have similarities in their swings. I just try to find my own and working on finding my own path and being able to drive it well.

BYB: If you’re drafted as high as many people think, are you more likely to go to college or sign with the professional team that takes you?

NP: It all comes down to if I’m able to start a life and start a career with the money that's being provided to me with the pick, and I think that is a very likely possibility.

BYB: What did it feel like the first time you saw a scout at one of your games?

NP: It was interesting. I’ve been around a lot of good players, so many times at a younger age, when scouts were around it wasn’t for me. It was interesting, and I’ve always had my mind set on being a professional baseball player. There was no question about it, that’s what I wanted to be. Ever since eighth grade, when the first scout saw me play just because I was around older kids, I always aimed to impress, that’s how my mindset was.

BYB: When did you realize you have a very good shot at making your goal of being a professional baseball player a reality?

NP: At the end of my junior season was kinda the point when I started to realize “Hey, this is my turn, this is a possibility,” and now that I’ve made adjustments and had some success, it’s becoming more and more of a reality as it draws closer.

BYB: What would be your walk-up song for your first at-bat in a major league stadium?

NP: I think I’d go with Jon Pardi: A Little Dirt on My Boots.

BYB:What do you think is the key to a successful career in baseball?

NP: Just had work and consistency. I mean, that’s the name of the game. Keep aiming to improve, and keep aiming to limit the slumps and the ups and downs.

BYB: How do you maintain your consistency despite the attention from scouts and the hype from being such a good prospect leading up to this draft?

NP: A lot of it is the mindset, it’s always game, and you can’t really put the pressure that the media puts on you. It’s tough at times, but it all comes down to {focusing on the] game, just having fun and playing the same as you normally would.

BYB: What’s the most difficult part of playing against tough competition at showcases?

NP: It’s just different than what you would see in a normal high school game. The hitters that show well against better pitching are the ones who are better players. I think it really says something about their preparation and how good of a player they really are.

BYB: Who do you think the toughest pitcher you’ve faced is?

NP: I’d say DL Hall was pretty good, among others. Lefty/lefty was tough, but there were a lot of righties that were, for me, tough to figure out.

BYB: Do you buy into advanced statistics at all?

NP: Yeah, I do. I think it’s a good indicator of people’s ability and everything plays out in numbers. I don’t think it tells the whole story, but I think it does help.

BYB: If you couldn’t play baseball, what career would you pursue?

NP: I’ve always wanted to do something related to sports, so I would go into the physical therapy or training field.

BYB: Is there anything else you’d like me to include in the piece that gets published on Bless You Boys?

NP: The only thing is that, whatever team drafts me, whether it be the Tigers or anybody else, I’m gonna go out there, work hard, it’s not the end of the line once I get drafted. It’s just another step in the road.