Unique is one way to describe it for sure. Braden Bishop‘s road to being drafted in the third round in the 2015 draft hasn’t necessarily been out of the ordinary in terms of baseball, but off of the field, that is a different story.
Bishop is currently the Mariners 14th ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com and, in a way, is the local kid. The speedy center fielder is currently spending his time playing in Short Season-A for the Everett AquaSox and he really hasn’t had to go too far, as just earlier this year he was roaming center field for the Washington Huskies.
“I’ve been here for the last three years and have really come to love the area.” Bishop said of the Pacific Northwest. “I was really excited when the Mariners drafted me and being assigned to Everett was pretty special.”
Bishop finished his senior year at UW with a good year for the Huskies. He was selected as an All-Pac-12 outfielder and even made the All-Pac-12 Defensive Team.
Many scouts have loved Bishop’s glove as he excels in the field, with his biggest question mark coming at the plate. So far in 2015 for Everett, Bishop has had a solid year at the dish. In 38 games, Bishop is hitting .270 with a .323 OBP and nine RBI. He isn’t much of a power hitter, per say, but he can steal some bags for you.
While making his college decision, Bishop didn’t want to just be another player on another team. He wanted to help change the culture, and at Washington, he sure did that. He was an integral part of the Huskies’ first NCAA Tournament appearance in quite some time when in 2014 they made the tournament as a two seed.
Part of that change, was coach Lindsay Meggs of the Huskies. Before Meggs came on as coach of the Huskies in 2009, they were a no-name program with a small, old stadium at a fairly prominent Pac-12 school. Since then, Meggs has totally changed the program and Bishop had nothing but good things to say about him.
“The reason why I went there [Washington], was to change the culture. That’s how he sold his program to a lot of recruits. Especially coming from California, a lot of people didn’t know where Washington was or what they were about, but we definitely helped change the entire culture from top to bottom.”
“He’s amazing… He definitely changed the culture at that school [Washington] not only athletically, but academically,” Bishop said of Meggs.
There is no doubt that Washington has reaped the benefits of Meggs’ culture change as they have recently opened new Husky Ballpark and it sure is state of the art.
The change from college to the pros can be quite different. In college, you have to balance school with baseball and regular life. Now as a pro, baseball is your day job and the change is as much on the field as it is off. Bishop’s biggest adjustment was something on the field, however.
“The biggest thing is the wood bats. In college you use metal with a lot of off speed and now with wood, you have guys throwing 93 to 96.”
Bishop acknowledges that it’s just one of the many new things that come with being a pro, and realizes that it is all a process. He did add that he does like how the ball comes off of the wood bats more than metal bats.
Part of the process that comes with being a pro are comparisons. You’ll hear many times players looking up to guys and model their games after that player. Bishop’s comparison happened to be quite convenient.
In college, he filled out a player comparison form and it ended up that his match was Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson.
Before the season, the AquaSox team got the opportunity to go visit the Mariners at Safeco Field and for Bishop, he got to meet his match.
“It was nice to pick his brain, see what he’s about, how he approaches the game everyday,” Bishop said about talking with Jackson. “That was the biggest thing because I haven’t been playing the game everyday like he has been his whole career.”
Some things in life, however, are bigger than turning around a program or getting compared to Austin Jackson. One of the biggest things that has happened to Braden Bishop in his life was when his mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Life is full of making adjustments, but this is more than baseball and something that you don’t plan for. It was quite a curveball thrown his way.
Bishop has taken this into his own hands and is using his platform as a pro baseball player to his advantage to launch a campaign called “4Mom.”
“Being a professional athlete can help tremendously in a lot of ways, but when you’re trying to spread the word and make a difference like that, having that title can turn heads and use that for the positive.”
Bishop went on to say that this campaign has exceeded his expectations and the Everett AquaSox, along with the Alzheimer’s association, are helping to raise awareness as well.
On August 19th, the AquaSox will be having a “4Mom Day” at the ballpark to help spread the word and raise awareness for the disease.
There seemed to be a common trend with Bishop and that was that it really isn’t all about him.
Throughout his career as long as the greater good or the team was benefiting, he was all for it. In college, he wanted to help contribute to building a program and now with his “4Mom” campaign, he wants to help raise awareness.
Like any professional athlete, nothing is guaranteed, but if you are rooting for someone to succeed, Bishop makes it pretty easy to root for him.