Exclusive Interview With Tigers Draft Pick Austin Schotts (WITH VIDEO)

12 Jun

(ABOVE) Highlights of Tigers second overall pick, Austin Schotts of Centennial High School (Frisco, Texas).

This past week, I had the chance to perform a complete and direct interview with Detroit Tigers’ second overall pick (No. 121 overall, Round 3), Austin Schotts. To view how this took place, take a look at my previous article (http://wp.me/p2leU7-4a).

For Austin Schotts, his career in sports started on the very first day of his life, “I think my parents had sports on their mind when they had me,” Schotts explained. “They both played sports in college and they must have wanted the same for me too. My dad brought a football and baseball to the hospital the day that I was born so he could expose me right away.” Little did Schotts know at the time, his exposure to the game that he loves would pay off in a big way. His passion and dedication would lead him to be selected in the 3rd round of this year’s MLB Draft to the Detroit Tigers.

Although Schotts enjoys various outdoor activities, such as fishing and golf, his life pretty much consists of sports, and it always has, “I started swinging a bat when I started walking, and actually started on my first team in kindergarten.”

Baseball is where Schotts shines brightest, but growing up in Texas, it was impossible for him not to play football as well. And although he will not be playing in the NFL, Schotts was still very impressive on the gridiron. He had a great senior season, including a game where he had two interceptions, three TD’s, three bat downs on defense, and a 90 yard kick return for a TD.

It wasn’t until this year that Austin even realized that baseball was going to be the sport that would carry him through, “I always thought that I would play both football and baseball in college,” Schotts said. “One day, something just hit me and I really felt like my future would be in baseball. I couldn’t be happier that I made that decision.”

That same decision and all of the work, came to a head on June 5th, the day that Austin was drafted. “I wanted to hear my name more than anything,” said Schotts. “But I knew that I had a great college like Oklahoma State to play for if things didn’t go the way I hoped for.” Schotts was indeed committed to go and play for the Cowboys, but everything just seemed to fall into place for Austin and his dream of playing professional baseball will now come true. “I had said that if i wasn’t selected in the top three rounds, then college was the path that I would go.” That step will no longer be necessary. Schotts’ .398 batting average this past season, along with his 9 home runs, 30 RbIs, 26 stolen bases, 1.000 slugging percentage, coupled with his district offensive player of the year award, was more than enough for Detroit, as they decided to make Austin their second overall selection (No. 121 overall, Round 3).

Along with his impressive numbers, Schotts’ MLB.com scouting profile describes him as having “Incredible speed.” Which is not too hard to detect from watching him play, as he runs a 6.3 sixty yard dash and touches first base from the batters box in less than four seconds. MLB.com also points out that Schotts has “one of the more polished prep bats in the draft” which “should allow him to hit for average at the next level.”

Schotts has talked to Detroit every single day since the draft, and he also has informed Oklahoma State of his plans, “Even though I signed to play at a great school like Oklahoma State, being a Tiger was just too hard to pass up,” Schotts expressed. “I have informed them (Oklahoma State) that I will be a Tiger instead of a Cowboy and they were very supportive. ”

It has been rumored that Schotts will move to the outfield in the Detroit farm system. That transition would be no problem for him, “I will play anywhere that I am needed most, I am up for whatever challenge comes my way.” A pretty great attitude for a guy that has played shortstop his entire life.

Schotts is also good friends with the Tigers’ first overall selection and Texan native (No. 91 overall, Round 2), Jake Thompson. The two have played against each a lot, but it wasn’t until this year, where Jake’s Rockwall-Heath High School just won the Texas 4A State Championship, that the two became friends, “We were at a few of the same pre draft workouts and got to know each other better,” said Schotts. “We will be flying to Florida together and will be rooming together. I am glad that we are both Tigers.” Who knows, we may just see the two youngsters at Comerica Park together before we know it.

This whole experience has been life changing for Schotts, who admits that he and his family got a little emotional on draft day, “We all jumped up and started screaming and crying,” as Schotts explained. “It was a dream of mine for as long as I could remember and I couldn’t believe that my dreams were coming true.”

As for now, Schotts will be flying out to Florida on Tuesday, where he will begin his career as a professional baseball player. As for which minor league team he will start with, Schotts has no idea, “I will get started wherever they put me, and work hard to climb up as fast as I can.” One day, he hopes to be playing with the best that Detroit has to offer. When I asked about the opportunity of potentially playing with guys like Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, and fellow Texan Austin Jackson, Schotts wasn’t shy in expressing how cool that would be, “It would be amazing! It would be an honor to play with those guys and to learn from them.”

That day may come sooner than he expects. Austin Schotts is a very special talent. It is clear to me from watching his highlights, assessing his tools, and being around his personality for the past few days, that he really is a true professional. Most guys with his talent, especially at such a young age, take the easy way out. They rely on their talent too much and when it comes time to play with the big boys, they fail because they didn’t work hard enough.

Will Austin Schotts ever make it to the big leagues? My prediction, without any hesitation or doubt, absolutely. Although it is truly impossible to predict how young talent will pan out, if Austin doesn’t make it, it won’t be because he didn’t work hard enough. His talent combined with his work ethic and great attitude will make him a successful big leaguer, “I approach the game with 100% passion,” Schotts said. “I give 100% every time I am on the field.” Austin then went on to express how awesome it has been to interact with fans, and he offered one last final message for Tigers fans everywhere, “I just want Tigers fans to know that I will give 150% effort everyday. I am so lucky that I was selected by a team who has such amazing fans and I am so excited to be apart of this great organization.”

Whoever or wherever you are, you will always have doubters. There will always be people out there who will tell you that you won’t make it, that you can’t do it. Austin Schotts will have those doubters as well, he is too young, he’s too small, he came out too early. Those doubters will not bother him one bit. Twenty years from now, Austin will be reflecting and finishing up a great big league career, and i’ll be the reporter who knew it all along.

The Complete Q&A With Austin Schotts:

When and how did you get into baseball?  I think my parents had sports on the brain when they had me.  They both played sports in college and must have wanted the same for me too because my dad brought a football and a baseball to the hospital the day I was born so he could start exposing me right away. I started swinging a bat when I started walking and actually started on my first team in kindergarten.
 
 
Football is obviously king in Texas, so when/how did you decide that you were going to have baseball be your main sport? Or did you not, and you just happened to be better at baseball?  I decided that I would focus on baseball after football ended my senior year.  I always thought I would play both football and baseball in college.  One day something just hit me and I really felt like my future would be in baseball and I should devote 100% of my efforts to it.  I couldn’t be happier that I made that decision.
 
 
What other hobbies or activities do you like to do besides sports?  Not too much to be honest with you.  I lift weights, fish, golf….anything I can do outside.
 
 
Athletes are very much known for having unusual routines and rituals, do you have any of these that you do before games, or on game days?  I don’t do anything unusual before games.
 
 
After seeing a lot of your highlights and reading scouting reports, it is very obvious that you have incredible speed, and one of the top and most polished prep bats in this years draft. But how would you describe your game? What is your approach/focus on the diamond?  I will take advantage of whatever situation is given to me during the game.  I play to win at all times.  Whether I am called to drive in runs or lay down a sacrifice bunt, I am all in if it is for the good of the team.   I approach the game with 100% passion, I give 100% every time I am on the field, and I feel like if I don’t  leave everything out on the field then I haven’t done the best for my teammates.
 
 
Where were you and how did you find out that you had been drafted by Detroit? I was hanging out at home with my family on draft day and didn’t know that I had been drafted by Detroit until I heard my name called.
 
 
What were your initial reactions/thoughts? I was beyond excited.  We all jumped up and started screaming and crying.  It was a dream of mine for as long as I could remember and I couldn’t believe that my dreams were coming true.
 
 
What went through your mind before the draft? Did you know Detroit was going to take you or did you think another club was going to select you? Did you know you would be such a high selection? I couldn’t wait for June 4th to come.  I wanted to hear my name more than anything but always knew that I had a great college like Oklahoma State to play at if things didn’t go the way I hoped for.  I had said that if I wasn’t selected in the top three rounds then college was the path I would go.  I had no idea that Detroit was going to select me.  The area scout, Tim Grieve, had been to my house and been at many games but so had most of the other teams.  I had gone to seven pre draft workouts right before the draft so I had no idea which teams liked me or not.  I couldn’t  be happier that it was the Tigers!
 
You are/were committed to Oklahoma State. Have you talked to them since being drafted? You said you are going to Florida soon and I have read that you were leaning towards going pro, what is your signing status or plans on the decision on playing with Detroit or going to Oklahoma State?   Billy Jones was the coach that recruited me.  I have stayed in touch with him through this process.  He is an amazing man that I couldn’t wait to play for.  I also have talked to the new coach, Josh Holliday, a couple of times.  He seems like he is going to be a great coach.  Even though I signed to play at a great school like Oklahoma State, being a Tiger was just too hard to pass up.  I have informed them that I will be a Tiger instead of a Cowboy and they were very supportive.
 
 
This one sort of goes with the last question, but what has the communication been like with Detroit since being drafted? And you played shortstop in high school, but it sounds like Detroit will be placing you in the outfield? Is that true and how do you feel about that? I have been in close contact with Detroit since being drafted.  We have talked almost every day.  As far as outfield goes, I have no idea.  On draft day I saw it had center field by my name and I heard what was being said on t.v.  I have only played short stop my whole life but will play anywhere that I am needed the most.  I am up for whatever challenge comes my way.
 
 
What is your friendship with Jake Thompson like? Have you guys talked about the upcoming years since both being drafted by Detroit? I saw that you played him this year and I’m sure you have played before, have you had any success with hitting Jake’s pitching?   Jake and I have played against each other but it wasn’t until this year that I got to know him.  We were at a few of the same pre draft workouts and got to know each other better then.  We will be flying to Florida together on Tuesday and will be rooming together.  I am glad we are both Tigers.What has this whole experience so far been like? It has to be unreal to go from being a high school kid (Granted you had to know a day like this may come) to someone who was such a high draft pick and will soon be playing professional baseball. This whole process has been the most amazing experience ever.  Getting to know all the scouts from different clubs, having so many people come watch the games, having people want to talk and get to know me at games all the way to the draft itself has been incredible.  I just got invited to talk to a group of little league Dallas Tigers today and sign autographs and take pictures with them.  They wanted me to come since we are both “Tigers.”  Who would have ever known that I would be doing such awesome stuff like that?  It was awesome.
 
 
It is beyond cool that you have been interacting with Tiger fans on twitter. How has that support been from Detroit fans, and if you could tell or inform Tiger fans on anything, what would it be?  Tigers fans are the BEST!  I have had so many people talk to me on Twitter.  They are all awesome. Now all the Tigers fans in the town where I live are coming out too.  I just want Tigers fans to know that I will give 150% effort everyday like I always have so that I can get to Comerica Park as fast as possible.  I am so lucky that I was selected by a team who has such amazing fans.
 
 
Has it crossed your mind yet that one day in the future, you will more than likely get the chance to be around and learn from guys like Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and fellow Texan Austin Jackson? That has to be really cool to think about.   That would be amazing!  It would be an honor to play with those guys and to learn from them.
 
 
What are your thoughts NOW on being drafted by Detroit and being drafted so high? Now that the reality may have sunk in a little bit more.  My thoughts are still the same as they were when I first heard that Detroit had picked me.  I am so grateful that they believed in me enough to draft me.  I am so excited to be part of this organization!  I can’t wait to get to Florida and get working.  I think it is all going to really sink in once I am there and I am cleared to put on a Tigers uniform.  That is the day that my dream becomes a reality for me.
 
James Nahikian blogs about the industry of sports. And specializes in articles about the Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball and Bowling Green State University Athletics. Email him at jnahikian77@gmail.com And follow him on twitter @KingNahikian or facebook where you can find links to his articles and updates about future posts
 
 
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One Response to “Exclusive Interview With Tigers Draft Pick Austin Schotts (WITH VIDEO)”

  1. wildbillhitcoch June 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM #

    GREAT ARTICLE! The Tigers are lucky to have him!

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