Elizabethton outfielder Brent Rooker, the 35th overall pick in this year’s draft, has been a force to be reckoned with for the Twins. After appearing in 22 games with Elizabethton and leading the team in almost every major offensive category — including an Appalachian League-leading seven home runs — the outfielder from Mississippi State was promoted on Tuesday afternoon to the Minnesota Class A-Advanced affiliate Fort Myers Miracle.
Through Tuesday morning, Rooker also leads Elizabethton in runs (19), hits (24), total bases (50), walks (11) and slugging percentage (.588).
Last weekend before the Twins‘ game against the Johnson City Cardinals, I was able to speak with Rooker for a couple minutes about his experience with the draft, making the transition to professional baseball, and fantasy baseball.
You’ve been here for a little while now, tell me what has it been like making the switch from college ball up to pro ball.
Rooker: It’s been fun you know, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a great place to play here in (Elizabethton). The atmosphere is great, the staff does a really good job of managing and dictating how our day goes. Transferring from college to pro ball I’m just learning what you need to do before every game to get yourself ready to play, learning your routine and then mastering that routine with your daily preparations. So I’ve been working on that and then trying to figure out what I need to do before every game to make sure I’m ready to play every day, and then besides that I’m just having a really good time.
Going back to the (2017 MLB Draft), Day 1 you hear your name called. What was it like hearing your name called and did you think you would (be drafted) where you were?
Rooker: First of all, it was an unbelievable experience to have that opportunity with my family. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time and I’ve worked really hard for it, so it was really fun to be able to go through that whole process with my friends and my family. As far as the pick goes, I kinda fell right where I thought I was going to. I had a range of picks where we thought it was the most likely area for me to go and I went right in the middle of that, so I was really happy with how that turned out. The Twins being able to get me again — they got me last year and this year again — I love their front office guys and the scouts I’ve met, so it’s a really good fit.
(In your third game) you homered. What was it like to make a big splash so early into your pro ball career?
Rooker: It was cool. It was kind of a comfort level thing for me, getting back into the swing of things a little bit after the college season had ended. I was just able to pick back up right where I left off early in the year up here, but obviously it was a very cool experience here to be able to get the first pro home run out of the way and to be able to just sit back and relax a little bit and be able to play baseball.
What has it been like playing with the team here? How has it been different or the same from playing in college?
Rooker: Really, baseball is baseball no matter where you go. Every guy in the locker room is going to work really hard and they’re going to do whatever they can to be the best player they can be, similar to how it is in college. There’s really not that big of a difference. I mean we have a really good group of guys here with a lot of talent, a lot of really good teammates, so it’s been a really good experience.
Rooker and the Fort Myers Miracle are on the road for their next three games, beginning tonight at 6:30 at the Bradenton Marauders. They will return home on Friday for the first game of a four-game series against the Tampa Yankees.
Changing topics a bit, have you ever played fantasy baseball?
Rooker: I think (I played) once for a couple weeks, but I never really got into it though.
Alright, so you may or may not remember, but generally in fantasy baseball there are five categories that they look at for batters when it comes to scoring points: Runs Scored, Home Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases and Batting Average. Based on what you know about your strengths and how you perform out on the field, if you had to pick one category that you think you would contribute the most to, what would it be and why?
Rooker: My carrying tool is going to be my power. I think if you talk with most people, they’re going to expect me to be a middle of the lineup bat that’s going to hit home runs and drive runners in, so the home runs or the RBI I think is the most important for my game. Because in order for me to advance and to do good and be successful I’m going to have to produce runs by hitting balls in the gaps, hitting balls over the fence and getting runners to score, so I would say either home runs or RBI are going to be my two biggest categories.
Editor’s Note: This article also appears on Michael’s website twentysevenstrikeouts.wordpress.com. We suggest you look there for more of his writing (in addition to his pieces here on Prospects1500).
Featured Image Credit: Michael Grennell