Sports Files — April 10, 2014

(female announcer)
This is a production
of WKNO-Memphis. Production funding for
“Sports Files” is made possible in part by.. My guest today on
“Sports Files” is Memphis Redbirds rightfielder,
and one of the Cardinals top minor league prospects,
Stephen Piscotty. [theme music]
♪♪♪ The Memphis Redbirds
home opener is set for tomorrow night at Autozone Park. The birds are off to a
torrid start this season, scoring a combined 30 runs in
their first three games — all wins. But gave up 20 in a single game
at Omaha this past Wednesday. With the parent Cardinals
stacked from top to bottom, a plethora of talented prospects
find themselves in Memphis to begin the season, something
many current members of the Cardinals’ major league
roster went through themselves. One of those prospects is
rightfielder Stephen Piscotty, a former three year star
at Stanford University. Piscotty spent a good portion
of his rookie season in 2013 at Double-A Springfield, where he
quickly made a name for himself. He would then take his game up a
level in the Arizona Fall league before a very productive spring
training with the Cardinals. It’s not a matter of
if, but rather when, this talented youngster
gets the call to the bigs. But until he does, fans in
Memphis will be able to enjoy watching Piscotty,
who many believe, is a can’t miss prospect. Today, I step up to the
plate with Redbirds rightfielder Stephen Piscotty,
next on “Sports Files.” [theme music]
♪♪♪ Well Stephen,
welcome to Memphis. Thank you. It’s awesome to be here. What are your first
impressions of Autozone park? Pretty cool. It’s the biggest park I’ve
definitely ever played in. So it’s pretty cool. I got to come in earlier
with the Big League Club. And you know unfortunately
our game got rained out. But it was a pretty good turn
out considering the weather. Well certainly Cardinal Country
is Memphis so you’re gonna get that support. Your spring training with
the Cardinals down in Jupiter, what was that like for ya? It was an
unbelieveable experience, you know, getting to play with
guys that I watched on tv when I was a kid. The guy I always talk
about is Mark Ellis. I grew up close to Oakland and
watched him play there for many, many years. You know I was in the
same hitting group as him. It was just kind of
like a little aw-struck. It was pretty cool. When you’re a young guy, do you
just keep to yourself or do you try to lean on veterans trying
to get the lay of the land if you will? Going in, yeah. I tried to kind
of keep to myself. You know I didn’t want
to get in their business. You know we were kind
of guests, you know, in their space and wanted
to give them some room. Yeah, but they were
very approachable, shared a lot of
information with us. And it’s just a testament to the
Cardinals and the Cardinal way. They’re just such
class act people. It’s awesome. And you mentioned
the Cardinal way. We’ve heard that
a million times, especially around here. How excited are you to be a
part of this organization? You know I’m just so thankful. I went to Stanford. I went to college there. The way they ran things there
I thought was very similar to, you know, the Saint Louis
Cardinals run their business. You know before the draft,
my agent had talked about the Cardinals and said, you
know, they do it the right way. They have a fantastic
player development program. It was all truth. You know I’ve been
through it quite a bit now and, you know, I’m so
thankful to be a part of it. You mentioned Stanford. You’re from California. You got drafted
out of high school. Could have went pro. Instead, you made the decision
to go to college for three years. What was your
experience like at Standford? It was unbelievable. It was a dream come
true to go to Stanford. My uncle went there for his
graduate degree and would take me to games. My dad would also bring
out our little league teams, travel ball teams, all
sorts of different teams. We watched so many games there
and to actually go and get to play there is pretty cool. They, you know,
just unbelieveable, the school, everything. It was awesome. Now you’re a heck of a pitcher. Although you’ll be playing
outfield in the Cardinals organization. But you played at
Stanford third base, the outfield, pitcher. I mean is your preference where
you’re going to be playing here with the Redbirds? And I assume that’s right field. Yu know I’m very
comfortable in right field. I’ve played a lot of different
positions from the past four or five years. You know I feel
comfortable moving. But the Cardinals told me
before last year that hey, you’re gonna play
every game in right field. I got my outfield
glove and was ready to go. I got so many repetitions in
there last year that I feel really comfortable now. So it wasn’t that hard of a
transition when they told you you’re not gonna be pitching? You’re not going to be
toeing the rubber anymore, Steve. We’re gonna put you
out in the outfield. A little disappointed
but I love pitching. You can’t really do that
these days in pro ball. You know I’m a hitter. That’s basically what I do. And the right field
is a good spot for me. I really enjoyed it. I’m playing third and first. And I think the
versatility has helped me. I can see things. I can see the way the infields
moving or I might need to position myself. I feel really comfortable there. You know I’ve gotten
so many reps that, you know, I’m looking
forward to even getting better. I think everybody knows what
type of institution Stanford is. Obviously
academically it’s way up there. Athletically, it
certainly is as well. What was your major? My major was atmosphere
and energy engineering. Excuse me, say
that one more time. Atmosphere and
energy engineering. So you had baseball. You knew you wanted to be a
baseball player and we’re hoping that you were going to be a
professional baseball player. But if that didn’t work, where
was this degree taking you? This degree has to do all
about renewable energy. So green
technology, solar panels, wind farms, all
sorts of, you know, renewable alternative fuels. And you know something that I
was excited to go to class and learn about every day. You know schools a grind. Baseball was a grind. I really wanted to pick
something I was interested in so I’d be motivated to go. I was doing more of a
business major at the beginning. It was a little too
tough and I wasn’t fully, you know, engaged
and interested. So I made sure I found something
that I was really motivated to learn about. You know it’s interesting
talking that way that you want to do something that’s
interesting to you and that keeps you excited about it while
you’re grinding out baseball and going to classes. But you would think a lot of
athletes would try to take the easy way out. But not you. Yeah, not me. You know sometimes I’ll
get bored if I’m not, you know, engaged in something. You know I wanted
to challenge myself. That’s kind of how I’ve always
gone about all sorts of things in life. I wanted to, you know,
kind of push myself. And this was something
that I definitely did that. Alright, let’s talk about 2013. Start out lower A. You go to upper A. You go to double-A and you spend
a big chunk of the season at springfield. What was the
experience like for you? I’ve had a tremendous experience
at each level I’ve been at. The relationships with the guys
on the teams has been a huge part of that. You talk about the Cardinal way. And you know I
think all the players, you know, abide by
it for the most part. And you’re
surrounded by, you know, good dudes. And it’s fun to be around them. So it doesn’t really
matter what level you’re at. You’re enjoying yourself and
having fun in the club house. You know it’s grand. So if you can lighten the mood
a little bit and have some fun, it goes a long way. What was the hardest thing
making the transition from amateur baseball,
collegiate baseball if you will, to professional baseball? The biggest difference
is playing everyday. In college, you play maybe once
during the week and then on the weekends. And you have to go about your
business a certain way in pro ball. You know you can’t
always work a ton. You know you’ve got
to work smart over, you know, working a lot. Right. Because you can wear yourself
out and make yourself worse. So finding that balance of
working smart and getting, you know, quality swings over
quantity swings was a big thing that I learned. And you just come to
the field everyday, you know, ready to work. It’s different. What did you learn about
yourself beyond the baseball player being away, being in a
professional occupation now as opposed to going to school? What did you
learn about Stephen? I learned that I like this game
a lot more than I previously thought. You know coming
in my first year, not that I was intimidated, but
when you start kind of at that low level, it’s a little
daunting to think you’ve got to go through all
these different levels. You’ve got to play really well. But like I said, you know,
there’s great guys in the club house to be around. I’m a little bit more
of an introverted guy. So I was little
intimidated by that. But like I said, everyone in
tyhis organization is just awesome. So it took a huge
weight off my shoulders. And I was just able
to relax and have fun. Alright, for all our viewers
here who are learning a little bit about you for
the first time, tell us what type
of player you are. The thing I would define myself
as is a player that’s going to put up, you know, tough at bats. You know I’m gonna go up there
and I’m gonna do my best to put the ball in play
with two strikes. I don’t concern myself all that
much about hitting home runs. I like to hit the ball
low, low line drives, find gaps. Some of the balls I hit
out are balls that I miss. I just get a
little bit under it. But you know I really pride
myself in just having tough at bats and really grinding. And as far as defense, you know
I feel like I found my spot in right field. I feel comfortable. I feel like right field
really fits my tool set. And you can show off, show
off my arm a little bit. And I really enjoy
that part of it. That’s about how
I define myself. All of that pitching experience,
you better have a good arm. What do you think you
have to work on the most? Probably base running is always
something that the Cardinals really stress. And I thought I made some great
strides in that department last year. But by no means am
I stellar at it. And that’s something that I’m
going to continue to work on. They always say you
don’t have to be, you know, super fast to
be a great base runner. So that takes mental preparation
and understanding situations and just being on top of your game. How much of a difference do you
think it will be from double-A to triple-A? And have you talked
to people about that? I’ve talked to my
roommate, Greg Garcia, and he said that for him, he
noticed that catchers take a lot of pride in the
way they call games. You’ve got to really, you know,
be smart in the box about how they’re attacking you and
try to be ahead of that. You know that’s one thing. Another thing too is just
playing in some bigger ball parks and competitions,
getting pretty competitive. You’re getting close
to the big leagues. So you know you really
got to bring it everyday. You can’t slack off. From Mike Matheny, the Cardinals
skipper to John Mozeliak, their general manager and other
people in the front office and other people or
stature and importance. What have they said to you? Not much. You know that’s kind
fo the way I like it. You know hopefully I open their
eyes a little bit this spring. Mike told me I
had a good spring. When I was here and headed
over to the other club house, you know, but I try not to
worry about too much of that. I try to worry about
what I can control. And hopefully I have a good
impact on their views and everything. But I’m just trying
to play the game. You know it’s fun to come
out and fun to compete. So I don’t worry about
all that stuff too much. And enjoy what is a
kids game basically. But it seems like just
meeting you for the first time, you have patience. You know you’re time will come
if you continue to do the things you’re supposed to do. It doesn’t seem like
you’re rushing to get the call. Yeah, I said that a bunch. I’m not in a huge rush. I’m having a good time. You know the Cardinals have
stressed this point that if and when you do get there, you’re
gonna contribute right off the bat. You’re gonna
hopefully stick there. They’re not just bringing you up
to bring you up and then you get sent down in a week. So you know I want to make
sure I’m fully prepared. They think that, you know,
coming to Triple-A and playing quite a few games here
is gonna get me ready. And so I’m all on
board for that. Like you said, you never know
when you’re gonna get that call when there’s an injury
or a trade that’s made. So you have to be ready to go. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why you
can’t take days off. You’ve got to get
better everyday. You’re one of the top
prospects in the organization. So was Oscar Taveras and you’re
gonna be playing alongside him. What do you know about him? You know I hadn’t
spoken to him much. You know a little bit of
a language barrier there. Yeah, there is. But I’ve heard he’s a good guy
and you know he likes to have fun just like everyone else. So it’ll be fun to
play alongside him. I know he’s a great competitor. When you’re playing double-A or
triple-A within an organization and you’re so busy working on
your own game and helping the team try to win, is it harder
or is it easy to keep an eye on what’s happening
with the big team? Are you able to keep up
with what’s going on? You know it’s.. I don’t want to say
it’s tough to keep up. But you know
there’s so much going on. You know the travel is tough. There’s, you know, a
lot of stuff going on. I’ve got to be at
certain places. When we get to the
ball park, you know, around 12:00 or 1:00,
you know, for a 6:30 game. So you know we spent
a lot of time here, you know, focusing on our work. And you hear little things
about the big leagues and, you know, mostly good stuff. They use themselves as examples
of what they expect from us. And that’s always good to see. Have you built up a routine yet? Like give me a daily routine. You’ve had a game that night. What’s your day like? My routine is I’ll get to
the ball park pretty early. And first thing I’ll do is I’ll
roll out or do a few exercises in the weight room and just
kind activiate the muscles. Turn them on. Get ready to go so I
don’t have any injuries. Head right to the cage and
I’ll take anywhere from 30 to 40 swings off the tee. Some front toss
from some coaches. And then shut that down
until batting practice. Get out. Take batting practice. And then I will not take one
swing after batting practice. I’ve noticed that if I
don’t have a great B-P, that’s alright. You know I feel
confident in the game. You know batting
practice is one thing. The game is another. So I don’t like to worry myself. I understand. By going back. I’ve gone back before and I’ve
learned that it just doesn’t help me. Doesn’t work for ya. It doesn’t work. Yeah. You obviously love
the game of baseball. But what else do you love to do? What do you like to go when
you’re away from the ball park? I’m big in to the
guitar right now. I’ve picked that up
probably three years ago. And I’m not very good. You’re learning and
willing to learn, right? I’m self-taught off You Tube. And you know I
have fun with that. So that’s definitely
something that occupies my time, keeps me mentally
engaged somewhat. Well you’re in a
great area for music. I know, great area, super
excited to be here for that. So when you have some time off,
you have to check out the music on Beale street. As far as players
you like to emulate, who have you looked up to
maybe as a kid and grown up as a teenager? Yeah, so like I said, I
grew up near Oakland. So I was watching
the Oakland As. And Mark Ellis is just
a true professional. And I got to see that up
close and in person this spring. He goes about his
business the right way. And he’s someone that I
definitely look up to. He plays second base. It’s a little different as
far as positioning and types of swings and stuff. But as far as how he
goes about his business, he’s definitely a
true professional. Professional baseball
player, the perfect example. We like to wrap up all of our
interviews with something we call five for the road. I’m gonna give
you five questions. First thing that comes to mind
so you don’t have to dwell on it too long. And I know I have a hint kind of
where you’re gonna go with this. But there’s a lot of
choices out in the bay area. You’ve got San Francisco
and you’ve got Oakland. You’re favorite professional
sports organization. It doesn’t matter what sport. What would it be? Saint Louis Cardinals. You can’t pick the Cardinals! Um, I like the
Golden State Warriors. There ya go. Favorite pro
athlete of all time? Tim Hudson. Your favorite music? What do you like to listen to
or group or a genre of music? Classic country music. Classic country? Yeah, not too thrilled with
the pop country right now. It’s starting to get a
little hip-hoppy for me. I like the old classics. So we’re going
Hank Williams junior. Merle Haggard, guys
like David Allen Coe. So you’ll be making a
few trips to Nashville. Of course you will with the
team when you play Nashville. Favorite movie of all time? Top Gun. No hesitation there. No hesitation. You had Ice Man or what
was Cruise’s character? Maverick. Maverick or Ice Man? Maverick. Alright. Finally, favorite
television show of all time? The Office. You’re gonna miss it? Yeah. It’s off now. It is off the air. I haven’t quite caught the
last season but it’s on Netflix. So I’ll be
checking that out soon. Steve, it is an
absolute pleasure. Best of luck. We look forward to watching you
here in Memphis and eventually when you get back
gome to the big leagues. Thanks again for your time. Thank you. I really appreciate it. Stephen, thank you so much. We’ll take a break. Overtime is coming up next. [theme music]
♪♪♪ Three.. Two.. One.. [buzzer sounds] There’s nothing
like getting your timing right. And that goes for everything
from hitting a baseball to being in the right position
for a job opportunity. Last week at Memphis
International Raceway, members of the Penske nascar
racing team payed a visit to do some testing. Among the drivers on hand were
2012 sprint cup points champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano,
two terrific young drivers who both have some history
at the Memphis track. And about that timing? Less than a week
after testing in Memphis, Logano would win the rain
delayed sprint cup race at Texas Motor Speedway this past Monday. And while the tracks
are completely different, the fact of the matter is they
used Memphis as a testing ground and aced the test. And we had a chance to speak to
all the members of the Penske team on hand in the bluff city. You know it’s just the closest
track to Richmond that we kind of find as far as the loads in
the corner and actually overall lap times actually. It’s pretty close
to what you’d have. The only thing that’s different
here is the tracks a little more bumpy. But if you kind of overlook that
and focus on the parts you need to focus on for Richmond,
you can take a lot out of it. And it’s the third time
I’ve been out here this year. So it’s been able to, you
know, learn some things, try different stuff and you know
hopefully that transfers over. This year I’m running the full
truck series for Brad Keselowski Racing and his trucks and doing
about 15 nationwide races for Penske. And then also two cup races
later this year in Kansas and Talladega. So really excited for this year
and trying to make another run at the truck championship. And trying to bring another
owner’s title to that nationwide team. And then being able to
see what we got in the cup. You know my dad was
already racing when I was born. And when you grow up around it
and then your family does it, that’s all you know. You think it’s just
a normal lifestyle. And then growing up
around the race track, you see everything that happens. And then you just kind of
get the sport early age. And you know I had a decent idea
of what the sport was like at age eight when I had my
first start in any kind of car. And it just helps you growing up
around a race track and having my dad, you know, being in all
different types of race cars. He’s helped me out a bunch on
knowing what to do because he’s been there and he’s done that. He’s experienced a
whole lot of stuff. It’s been a huge help to me. And you know even now
when I’m 20 years old, he’s still at the race track and
helping me out week in and week out. It’s just been a huge help to
me to have him always there. And then along with Joey and
Brad being able to get there and play off some stuff. And just really fortunate to
have a dad and a family that’s so understanding of racing
and fortunate enough to grow up around it. Alright Brad, you’ve had a
pretty good start to this season. You said seventh? How has it been so far? You know, I mean good. We got a win. And with the new point
standings the way they work, it’s so critical to qualify
your way in to the chase. And for a race team,
that’s where it all starts. It’s, you know, having a
shot at the championship. In order to do that,
you need to win races. We got that out of the
way earlier in the year. Now we just want to
win more of them. So our cars have been
fast enough to do that. We’ve just got to execute on any
given weekend and I think we can find ourselves in
victory lane again. Have there been a lot of changes
in the rules since last season? Yeah, there’s always a lot
of changes in the rules. And this year in
particular, you know, the point structure
has been changed. And the qualifying
format’s been changed. And even some things on
the cars have been changed. And you know I think
that’s a good thing. When I think of Memphis, I
think of a lot of memories. I came here when it
was first built in ’97, ’98, somewhere around
there and watched my dad race, which was, you know,
something I’ll never forget. And you know I had my first
career pull here in the truck series in 2007. And that really
got my career going. And then won my last race
here in 2009, so you know those things are the things
that stick out to me. And they’re just, you
know, precious memories. Racing is funny because
specific on the Nascar side, there’s so many rules that
limit you to technology. So what we end up
doing is, you know, taking the rules,
which say you have to run, you know, essentially designs
that are from the ’60s and ’70s and update them with, you know,
super futuristic materials and things like that. So no where near where we would
start if we had a blank sheet of paper to work. But that doesn’t mean there’s
not a lot of technology because there is. You know you look behind me here
and all kinds of data carts and computers and all those things. But they’re all bolted on old
school parts trying to make them work as best as they can. It’s gotten to the point
where we’ve got departments of engineers set up. We carry, you know, two
different engineers to the racetrack with each
race team every week. And so one is just go handle
vehicle dynamics and another one to handle the
racing aspects of it. So you see a lot
more technology. We’ve got a lot more computer
simulation possibilities today whether it be C-F-Ds and
doing the aerodynamic studies or whether it be a
vehicle simulation. You know we’ve come and
test at these race tracks. And we go back and we create
drive files out of it so that we can drive the simulation. And then we can run all
our changes on the computer. Several things we look at daily. I mean it’s without a computer,
we’d be a little lost with the methods we have today. You know we have the ability to
simulate a complete lap of what the car is doing
here, the car responses, the tire
responses, driver imputs. We can create all of that. So when you go to look at
trying to find more speed, when we want to try
a different set up, we can run that. We can come to a test like we’ve
done today after we’ve already done the leg work at the shop. So we’ve taken 100 ideas and
narrowed them down to seven that you want to try
at the race track. And then you can use those
seven productively here in real environment. But they definitely
speed up, you know, the idea to implementation
at the race track. On a typical race weekend,
you’ll see a race team carry about 20 people for a weekend. Seven of those will come on
Sunday because that’s pit crew guys. That’s the guys
who change tires, carry tires, jack the
car up, fill it with gas. But our group that flies
out typically on Thursday, we’ve got a crew chief who kind
of oversees the whole thing. You’ve got a car chief who’s
responsible for the mechanics of the car. And he’ll also have a
front end mechanic, rear end mechanic,
an interior mechanic, a tire mechanic, somebody who
just takes care of tires and the information and all the
data that’s off of those. You’ve got a shock specialist
who’s responsible for spring inventory and shock inventory. We also carry two
engineers as I said earlier, a vehicle dynamics engineer
that just runs simulation, basically all the stuff that
we’ve kind of laid out and what we want to try. And then one that’s involved in
all the implementation of the engineering of how our cars are
set up of springs and bars and asymmetry and all
the different methods. My race engineer and the car
chief are fairly well siemese. They work together a lot of how
we get our race car on the race track. Thanks again to
Penske racing. By this time next week we’ll
know if the Grizzlies qualified for the playoffs. The Grizz host the Philadelphia
76’ers Tomorrow night before heading to L-A to play the
Lakers and onto Phoenix to meet the Suns. The regular season finale is
next Wednesday when the good guys host Dallas. Oh by the way, Philly boasts
five Memphis area products on the roster, most recently
signing former Tiger Adonis Thomas. Next time on “Sports Files”
we’ll have much more on the Grizzlies and I’ll sit down
with Memphis Tigers Quarterback Paxton Lynch, who will lead his
team into the annual blue-grey spring game Tomorrow night
at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Until then have a great week
and we’ll see you next time. [theme music]

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