Joe Jacquez of Baseball Essential talked with the No. 13 prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization according to MLB.com, outfielder LaMonte Wade, about his current season with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, his love for ping pong, and more.
Q: When did your baseball journey begin?
A: I played softball growing up, so I was always around the baseball field. I just kept going with it, went to college and got the opportunity to play for the Minnesota Twins, and I am enjoying every second of it.
Q: Who has helped you the most as a baseball player?
A: Back when I was at the University of Maryland, my coaches there really helped me out a lot. That is where I started to really learn how to have an approach at the plate, having a plan and ever since I did that, it worked well there and it seems to be working so far here (at the professional level), I’ve just got to keep going.
Q: What do you think is the biggest key to your success at the plate?
A: I would say plate discipline, just being able to lay off pitcher’s pitches and waiting for that mistake that I can take advantage of. Taking walks and getting on base is probably one of my strongest assets to my offensive game, just getting on base anyway I can and helping produce for the team.
Q: You walk more than you strike out. How are you able to stay patient and disciplined at the plate?
A: I think a lot of it comes from not being afraid to hit with two strikes. I don’t mind hitting with two strikes at all. I feel confident that I can put a good swing on a good pitch to hit with two strikes, so early in the count, I am able to get more picky and find a pitch that I want to swing at and if I don’t get it, I wait and with two strikes, I just keep battling.
Q: How much video of pitchers do you watch before games?
A: I don’t like watching the video. We have heat maps, so I like to look at the heat maps and see where they like to throw their pitches. So, I will have all the pitchers heat maps and see where he likes to throw his fastball, in what count, what location.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish this season?
A: I would say to get more consistent every day at the plate and on defense and hopefully, that allows me to become a better all-around player and it takes me to another level. At the end of the year, that is down the road but for the short term, just to try and get more consistent at the plate and not give any at-bats away.
Q: You only hit seven home runs in 117 games last season, but you already have hit six in 36 games this year. What do you attribute your increase in power to?
A: The re-positioning of my hands has helped a lot. I am able to get more lift on the ball because instead of having my hands above my head, they are down below my hip so I think I am more faster and quicker to the baseball. I am able to turn on more pitches this season because of where my hands are. Last year, I feel like I was getting beat a lot by inside pitchers, and that is one thing I worked on a lot this past offseason with my coaches during the Arizona Fall League and in Fort Myers.Baseball Essential's @joejacquezaz caught up with Minnesota @Twins prospect @WadesWorld6 in an exclusive Q&A.Click To Tweet
Q: What was it like playing in the Arizona Fall League, aside from a scary collision in the outfield?
A: Arizona was very positive. I enjoyed playing against the best competition in the minor leagues. It was a lot of fun, I learned a lot and got to see how guys go about their business day in and day out. Aside from the collision, it was very positive. I feel like I grew as a player. I was able to make some adjustments. That is where I relocated my hands and my batting stance. I am starting to see the results now early, but I know it is early.
Q: How did your love for table tennis begin?
A: I started playing ping pong seriously when I was in middle school. I went to a few ping pong tournaments, and I won one and lost two. For my 17th birthday, my mom bought my brother and I a ping pong robot machine, so we could play anytime we wanted. The robot would shoot a bunch of balls out and you could hit them for hours and hours.
Q: Does playing table tennis help you be a better baseball player?
A: Yeah, I think so. It helps with my hand-eye coordination. We have a ping pong table here in the clubhouse in Chattanooga, and we constantly play against people.
Follow LaMonte Wade on Twitter, at @WadesWorld6.