In last season’s June draft, the Milwaukee Brewers strayed from their usual course and drafted several high school players with tremendous upside. The early round selections got plenty of accolades, but fourth round pick Troy Stokes has a ton of talent as well.
The highly touted centerfield prospect out of Baltimore, Maryland appeared in 47 games in his first season as a professional, batting .262 with a .694 OPS. With the look of a leadoff hitter, Stokes was also able to use his speed to swipe 19 of 22 attempted bases. A solid start for the 19-year-old prospect. I was able to catch up the Brewers’ hopeful. Here is what he had to say:
Pete: Who has been the biggest baseball influence in your life?
Troy: The biggest baseball influence in my life has definitely been my father. My father taught me how to play baseball. He taught me how to play the game right. Not just the skill part but the attitude part as well.
Pete: Growing up did you have a favorite player that you wanted to emulate?
Troy: I never really had a player that I looked up to like many other kids had. I knew when I was a kid I always liked how Jeff Conine batted so I guess I sort of resembled or followed his stance so he was probably the closet player to that. I never really had a sure favorite player though.
Pete: Can you describe your feelings on the day you were drafted?
Troy: The day I got drafted was crazy. That morning I woke up like “wow, today is the day”. When I heard my name called my mom just started screaming and yelling. I was just quiet and smiling. It was a feeling I had never felt before. I was just very happy.
Pete: The Brewers went in a new direction in the draft, drafting many high-upside high school players like yourself. How do you feel about the direction the organization is heading and about the group you were drafted with?
Troy: I love the direction the Brewers are going especially because they drafted me. But seriously, I feel that their direction is moving in the right path to be a very good organization in the long run. I love the guys that I was drafted with. All the guys that I got the chance to play with from my draft class all seem cool. I feel like we jelled together.
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Pete: What are your strengths as a baseball player? What was your biggest difficulty in your first season playing pro ball?
Troy: My speed, offense and approach at the plate are my strongest tools. I’m a leadoff type hitter my angle to the ball and track of balls in the outfield are above average. My biggest challenge I would say would be adjusting to the speed of play. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be because I was used to facing good pitching over the summer circuit but as a whole the game just moved faster. Besides playing being away from home was a challenge.
Pete: Any idea on where you will start in 2015? What are your goals for the season?
Troy: I will probably start in Helena, Montana. My goal is to be in Wisconsin starting off this season, but I realize that is going to be hard. If I start in Helena my goal is to finish in Wisconsin in Low A. Besides batting goals and defensive goals one of my biggest goals is to steal a lot more bags this year. I had 19 last year, this year I want to be around 40 depending on where I play.
Pete: Baseball is obviously a huge part of your life. Can you tell us a bit about the Swing4more foundation that you have started and the goals you have for that organization?
Troy: The Swing 4 More Baseball Program is a private non-profit youth baseball program serving primarily young males ages 8-14, in Baltimore Metro area. The specifics and purpose of this organization shall be to Educate, Train, and Help Fund qualified inner city youth interested in furthering their knowledge and skills in baseball to prepare themselves for college scholarships and or Major League baseball opportunities.
Pete: Andrew McCutchen recently talked about baseball becoming a sport that is leaving lower income families behind. Do you agree with his take and how can an organization like yours help to change that?
Troy: I completely agree with everything Andrew McCutchen said in his article. Baseball is leaving behind lower income families and inner city youths due to the lack of funding which includes equipment and baseball fields’ upkeep. I know in Baltimore, baseball in the city is starting to become nonexistent due to all of this and parents not interested in the sport. Swing 4 More is trying to help change this by utilizing current recreation leagues and coaches to help with recruiting; educate players and their parents/guardians on opportunities that are available; involve current Collegiate and Professional players from the community; secure funding to subsidize qualified youth; maintain a staff of trained and qualified instructors; and build relationships with other national youth baseball organizations, colleges, and Area Scouts. See Website “Swing4More.org”
Pete: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Best of luck this season!
Troy: Thank you!