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: To start things off, are you still 6’3”, 190 lbs?
Marcus Littlewood: Yeah, 6’3”, 195 lbs now.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Growing up were there any other sports besides baseball for you?
Marcus Littlewood: I played basketball all the way up until my 8th grade year and then I just wanted to focus on baseball because I knew I had a chance to start varsity baseball as a freshman. There was a baseball camp during basketball season, and I couldn’t really miss that, so I gave basketball up. I don’t really miss it either, so I don’t regret having to give it up and focus on baseball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When did it hit you that you were pretty good at baseball and could do something with it?
Marcus Littlewood: Realistically? Probably just a couple of years ago. My dad coached independent professional baseball and at a college when I was growing up, so I’ve always been around the game. For my whole life I’ve always thought that baseball is what I want to do for a living, but I guess the answer to your question is a couple of years ago when I began to stand out a little more on the field and my body started to fill in.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What got you to leave the state of Utah and commit to San Diego?
Marcus Littlewood: I just wanted to go to the best place possible for me, and the schools in Utah weren’t as good for me as the ones in California. I just wanted to get out and go for the warm weather [laughs]. I committed when I was a sophomore, and I took my trips then to all the California schools, Oregon, Oregon State, but I never took any trips to any Utah schools, so I guess it was just never really an option for me. Of course education was a top priority, but baseball was a big factor, too, so the schools on the west coast were all great options, and San Diego felt like the no-brainer choice for me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft? Some guys say not at all, and some guys say it’s the last thing on their mind each night before they go to sleep. Where do you stand in that spectrum?
Marcus Littlewood: I’d like to say I don’t think about it, but in all honesty it’s always in the back of my mind. I hope this doesn’t come across as arrogant or cocky because it’s not intended that way, but being a highly touted player you’re getting written up in draft publications and stuff, so it’s impossible not to think about it, you know? I try to look at it not as a stressful thing, but more of an opportunity. In the end it’s more exciting than worrisome.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself to actually think about playing professionally, what is the image you get in your mind?
Marcus Littlewood: I would like to play in the Major Leagues, and then stay in the Major Leagues. The goal is obviously not just to play professional baseball, the goal is to play Major League Baseball, and to do so for a long time. As far as imagining it, I really see myself playing in those Major League ballparks with the big league uniform on – it’s always been a dream of mine.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?
Marcus Littlewood: There have been about 20 that have done home visits, I’ve gone to a Blue Jays workout, and I’ve got the Braves, Phillies, and Angels workouts coming up at the end of this month.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Were the Yankees one of those home visits?
Marcus Littlewood: No, they weren’t. The area scout’s name is Steve Kmetko, and he hasn’t been to my house. I think he’s been to a couple of games, but no in-home visits.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you describe your best attribute as a hitter, and also something that you’re working on improving?
Marcus Littlewood: I think my best attribute as a hitter is probably my plate discipline; knowing the strike zone – at the Aflac game I walked four times. I think right now I’m working on getting some more lift out of my swing and putting up some power numbers, because I know some say I may get too big for shortstop and they’re looking to see if I can hit for power in the future. So my biggest attribute is plate discipline and I’m working at developing my gap to gap power, and eventually homerun power – and I think it’s coming.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You switch hit, but which side is your natural side?
Marcus Littlewood: The right side is natural.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How did switch hitting come about?
Marcus Littlewood: When I was about twelve my dad and I were hitting in the cages and he said that maybe I should try to take a couple of swings left-handed, so I did. I’m sure it was ugly, but I guess he saw some potential there so he told me to keep doing it. I didn’t start doing it consistently until my freshman year because before that it was the most frustrating thing in the world – my swing wasn’t there and my timing was completely out of whack. There would be guys in scoring position and it felt like I’d roll over to second every time. Now I think it has really, really paid off and I couldn’t be more happy about going through all that stuff.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How do the sides compare?
Marcus Littlewood: I think right-handed the bat head is a little quicker through the zone, I think I have more lift right-handed at this point, and that translates to more power righty. I feel like I see it better left-handed, and I don’t know why that is, but that’s what it feels like. As I get more and more at-bats I get more comfortable with my left-handed swing, and while I’m comfortable now, it’s getting to where it almost feels like it’s my natural side.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do you hit in the lineup?
Marcus Littlewood: Three.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your personality on the field? Are you expressive or reserved?
Marcus Littlewood: I’m not a huge vocal guy, but I’m definitely going to give a fist-pump if a big play happens, and I try to stay even-keeled in my demeanor as a player. Some people say I’m kind of like a coach on the field, and I take that as a huge compliment. I think that is a testament to my dad being a coach and me growing up around the game, and I feel like I know the game in and out because of it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You talked about defense a little earlier, saying that some scouts have said you could possibly get too big for SS. What are your feelings on that?
Marcus Littlewood: Right now I think that I can stay at short, and I think I will in the future, but if I have to move I don’t have any problem with it – I mean, I’d do anything and whatever it took to get me to the big leagues the quickest. I’ve played shortstop my whole life and I feel like it’s my position, and while I’m sure it would be hard to move, I’d get over it fast because it’s all about doing whatever it takes.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What other positions are being mentioned, and what are you doing to try and make sure you stay there as long as possible?
Marcus Littlewood: I would definitely stay on the infield. My range isn’t as good as one of those smaller Latin American guys who are amazing with the glove, so I think what I need to do is make sure to make every single play that I can get to – when I get my glove on the ball I need to finish the play.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Another thing you touched on earlier was your dad being heavily involved in baseball when you were growing up. How has that influenced you in the path you have taken, and what are some of your memories of it?
Marcus Littlewood: I think it has helped a ton with all the pressure that we as high school players have to deal with. Being around the game in general, and all the scouts at his college games, I’ve seen what it takes and, while I know I haven’t seen it all, it feels like I’ve seen a whole lot – nothing is going to surprise me. Some people might get freaked out because they see scouts in the stands, but to me it’s nothing new; I feel like me growing up in that atmosphere has helped me deal with it. As far as memories go, I can remember my mom picking me up after elementary school and going straight to the field and shagging BP for the pro guys. I mean, I’d do that every day, and I can remember that if there was a rain-out I would sit at home and cry. I’d always be asking the assistant coaches to throw with me, hit me ground balls, all that stuff, and I think that’s why baseball is in my blood – it’s just always been there.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What team did you root for growing up?
Marcus Littlewood: I don’t have a favorite team, I guess I’d say I’m just a fan of the Major Leagues.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the guys you look up to for their skills or the way they play the game?
Marcus Littlewood: My favorite player is Chase Utley because of the way he goes about his business – you never hear a whole lot about him and there’s never any controversy surrounding him – and he obviously rakes as a second baseman. I’ve watched him play closely and it really seems like he’s playing as hard as he can; a lot of people say that, but in his case I think it’s really true. He’ll roll over to second base and he’s running as hard as possible down to first, and you don’t really see that a whole lot in the Majors. That’s what I love about him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one skill from anyone else in your draft class, whose would it be, and why?
Marcus Littlewood: If I was a pitcher I’d want Jameson Taillon’s fastball, but I’m going to say Bryce Harper’s power. I played with him a couple of weeks last summer and we’re pretty close family friends, but that kid has something like 24 homeruns at CSN and that’s just phenomenal power. So I think I’d actually say Harper’s bat speed – that’s the one thing I would want.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So have you guys known each other for a little while?
Marcus Littlewood: We met at the 16U Team USA trials, we got along really well, and our families got to know each other. Then last summer he came up and played with the Utah Marshalls, which was my summer team, and stayed with me and my Grandma while we played for a couple of weeks in Salt Lake. So we’ve played a lot together and are pretty good friends.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was the whole Aflac experience like for you?
Marcus Littlewood: It was awesome, getting to be in that crop of great players from around the country and getting to know those guys. You get to learn a lot from a bunch of those guys, and the game was awesome even though it had to unfortunately end in a tie. It was just a great experience – playing at Petco, watching it on TV later – it was just awesome.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who is the toughest pitcher that you’ve faced?
Marcus Littlewood: Kevin Gausman. I faced him in Minnesota at the Perfect Game National, and gosh that kid has great stuff, plus he’s long and lanky. He struck me out looking and made me look silly.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Back to the draft, if the situation was right and they hit your number, is signing out of high school something that you’re open to?
Marcus Littlewood: Oh, absolutely. If the situation was right I’d definitely consider signing.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You have these two amazing opportunities in front of you, yet you’re still 18 years old. How do you balance trying to be a normal teenager with the demands of being a top draft prospect?
Marcus Littlewood: I’d like to say that there’s no pressure, but there is. The one thing that I really try to stay focused on is that this is a win-win situation – I’m either going to play professional baseball or go to San Diego to play ball and continue my education. I’ve put myself in a really good situation by playing well throughout my career, and being around a baseball family has really helped keep me down to earth, so as far as trying to be an 18 year old kid goes – I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just a really exciting and fun period of time right now in my life.