I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2010 has to offer each Sunday and Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.
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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are your height and weight still 6’3”, 195 lbs?
Chad Lewis: I’m actually up to 205 lbs. When I was a freshman I was about 170 lbs, and I made my goal to be around 205-210 lbs for my senior year. I started working out my junior year, and then going into my senior year I started working out more and more and putting on weight. It got me to where I wanted to be, which was 205 lbs.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Did you play any other sports besides baseball growing up?
Chad Lewis: Yes I did, I played varsity basketball my freshman and sophomore year, but I ended up giving it up because I knew baseball was what I wanted to do and I wanted to focus on it. It ended up being a good choice [laughs].
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What position did you play?
Chad Lewis: I was a power-forward. We were a pretty small team – we only had one guy that was over 6’4”, and other than that we were a small team. My freshman year we set the national record with 435 three-pointers made in one year, so I was happy to be a part of that.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many did you make? How many games were in the season?
Chad Lewis: Our season was 28 games, and I think out of the 435 I only had like 15-20. I wasn’t the star or anything, it was actually my brother Troy who took a bunch of them, and he had a lot of the 435. It was good playing with my brother, too. I was a freshman, he was a senior, and we got to play basketball together, so that’s something I’ll always remember.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was it that drew you to San Diego State?
Chad Lewis: Coming into my senior year I didn’t exactly know where I wanted to go. I had offers from Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon, and some other schools, and San Diego was the first school I went to visit. Right when I got there and looked at the field I was in love. I loved the way Tony Gwynn ran the practices and handles everything, and at the end of the visit I told my dad that it was where I wanted to go – I wanted to commit right there. My dad told me that we still had to go to see the other schools, so we went to see them, but in the end it was still San Diego State for me, so that’s whom I picked.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Be honest – how freaking cool is it to speak to Tony Gwynn as your head coach?
Chad Lewis: Oh, it’s awesome. You know, that was one of the biggest things for me, just having him as a coach – he’s a Hall of Famer! It doesn’t get any better than that.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft? Some guys say they don’t think about it at all, and some say that it’s the last thing on their mind every night before they go to bed. Where do you stand in that spectrum?
Chad Lewis: I’d have to agree with the second one. I go to bed thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, just having this opportunity is like a dream – even talking to you right now, just having this interview, is something great to me. So I definitely do think about it, but I try not to think about it too much because you can’t let it get to your head. All in all it’s something that I can’t complain about.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself to dream of playing professional baseball, what is the image that you get in your mind?
Chad Lewis: The first thing I think about is the pro help I’m going to get, and then just going to the baseball field every day and not having to worry about anything else – it’s baseball, baseball, baseball. A lot of people tell me it’s a grind, and I definitely understand that, but I’m willing to do anything it takes to reach my goal of being in the Major Leagues one day.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?
Chad Lewis: I’ve heard from all the teams.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So you’ve had contact with the Yankees?
Chad Lewis: Yes, definitely, I’ve talked to the Yankees and they’ve come for an in-house. Just having a Yankee scout come in made me think, “what if you really did get drafted by the Yankees?” You never know with the draft, but playing for the Yankees would be an honor.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you give me an assessment of your swing and your thoughts on hitting in general?
Chad Lewis: I would say I have a level swing. I don’t try and do too much, because when I try to do too much, good things don’t happen, so I try to keep it short and simple. I’m a “see the ball, hit the ball” guy, and when I start thinking too much that’s when I start not doing what I’m capable of doing. I just try to keep everything off my mind, stay relaxed, and keep that same approach every time up there. When I’m in the dugout, before I get on-deck, I like to talk to the guys to see what the pitcher has and what I have to look for – what’s his offspeed like? What’s his fastball like? Does it have a little cut to it? Most of all I like to get up there with a blank mind and try not to think too much, that’s my main thing.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How about your approach at the plate in terms of patience?
Chad Lewis: I like to be patient and wait for my pitch, I don’t like to hit the pitcher’s pitch, because that’s not going to end well. I like to stay patient and just see the ball, hit the ball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What are your thoughts on walks? Are you the type to be patient until you get the pitch you like, or are you the type to work the count beyond the first good pitch?
Chad Lewis: Getting a walk is definitely alright with me because that just gives me a chance to get a steal here or there, even though I’m not really known for my stealing. My speed is something I’ll definitely be improving on, but anytime I can get on base that just helps the team.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you use the opposite field at all?
Chad Lewis: Overall, I’ve been going oppo, and when I’m going oppo that’s when I know I’m swinging the bat well and seeing the ball. When I start pulling off and rolling over to the shortstop that’s when I know I’ve got to wait a little more, stay back, and take it to the right side. Overall I’d say I’m a great rightfield hitter – that’s where a lot of my power is actually.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do you hit in the lineup?
Chad Lewis: Right now I’m hitting third for my high school.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Obviously everyone always wants their team to win, but what’s the biggest thing you have been focusing on as an individual player this year?
Chad Lewis: Just staying back on the ball, that’s my main thing. In the summer you’re facing guys that are throwing upper-80s and low-90s, and you’ve got a different approach because it’s not the same fastball you’re seeing in high school. So coming back to high school I was just working on staying back on the ball as my main thing because when I get out in front good things don’t happen.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your personality on the field?
Chad Lewis: I like to have fun out there, I don’t like to take it really, really serious, because when you take it really serious that’s when you know you’re not having fun. I just like to be a little loose and be a leader by example. I’m not really a guy to get in someone’s face all the time because that doesn’t really help the team; I like to lead by example and show these younger kids how to play the game.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being a former shortstop, you’re known as having a good glove at third base. What can you tell us about your defense?
Chad Lewis: I work on it every day at practice, and I don’t just work at it, I work at it hard. I like to do it every day, take those ground balls, and learn to read the hops, but yes, I used to be a shortstop from eight years old to maybe thirteen or fourteen. When I got to high school my coach made me a third baseman because we had a shortstop in my class, too. I made that transfer and that’s when I really had to start working on all the different things I would need to get ready for games.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is the most difficult play at third base?
Chad Lewis: I’d have to say certain backhands at times, but even that I’ve been working on and getting comfortable with. I like to know what I’m doing with every ball that’s hit to me and how to play them.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you have any major League bloodlines in your family?
Chad Lewis: No, I do not actually; no one. Maybe I’ll start something with me - you never know!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Growing up in Huntington Beach, what team were you a Dodgers or Angels fan?
Chad Lewis: I’ve always been an Angels fan. I try to go to as many games as I can even though I don’t have much time. I love to watch them; they’re a good team.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the players that you look up to for their skills or the way they play the game?
Chad Lewis: I’m going to have to go with Evan Longoria, just the way he plays the game is incredible. I know he wasn’t drafted out of high school and I remember going to a Long Beach State game with my dad one time when I didn’t know who he was, and he ended up hitting a homerun. I was like, “who’s this guy? I’ve never heard of him in my life,” and it ended up being Evan Longoria – look where he is now. I just enjoy watching him swing the bat, he’s got that sweet swing, and the way he plays defense is amazing.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have If you could steal one skill from any guy in your draft class, whose skill would you steal, and why?
Chad Lewis: I’m going to have to go with my boy Stefan Sabol – I would love to have his speed. He was on the same Angels Elite team with me, so we’re good friends.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced?
Chad Lewis: I’m going to have to go with Taijuan Walker. I was playing for Angels Elite and we had a game at Mount Sac College when I got to face him, and he was just a good pitcher. I think he was throwing 93-94 MPH with a nasty curveball – he was on that night – but I saw him pitch again later on at another showcase and he was blowing guys away, so I knew he was a good pitcher.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you got drafted in June and were offered a contract that is near your number, is playing professionally out of high school something that you would be open to?
Chad Lewis: Yes, if it’s the number that my family and I have, it would definitely be something that I would look into. I mean, it’s been a lifetime dream so having that opportunity is something I wouldn’t take for granted. Like I said earlier, I think about it every day, so if I had the right opportunity I would definitely consider it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, how do you balance the pressures that these amazing opportunities bring with trying to be a normal 18 year old?
Chad Lewis: That’s a good question. Most of the kids at my high school are just going to college, ROTC, or something – being average teenagers, and I like to have fun with them. I don’t like to be the guy that showboats or is cocky, I’m trying to be as average or normal as I can. On the field, when we’re doing ground balls or something, I like to take a professional approach to doing what I do – I don’t like to be that guy that’s goofing around and acting like it’s nothing because for me this is my life, baseball is what I like to do. Away from the field I don’t like to tell people what’s going on with baseball - if I’m going to this place or that place, meeting with one team or another - I just like to keep that stuff between me and my family. I’m sure that some people look at me as an example, so I just like to go out there, have fun, and show them how I play ball.