Baseball seems like it should be an easy sport...hit ball with bat. However, we all know that's far from the truth. I know a lot of people who've had the dream, only to see the harsh reality of lack of talent rob them of that dream. I should know, I was one of those kids. For me, hit ball with bat was more like miss ball with bat until walking back to the dugout dejectedly.
One person who had this dream and the talent is Will Remillard. Currently a catcher in the Cubs minor league system, he is in his first season at Low-A Kane County. I had a chance to ask him a few questions before a recent game against the Burlington (Wisconsin) Bees, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.
Will credits his brother Zach with making him interested in playing early on. "My brother was a big reason...we just had a good time in little league". His interest in playing baseball continued in high school at LaSalle Institute in Troy, NY. Not exactly known as a baseball powerhouse, he would be the first alumnus of the school to make it to the majors if he gets that far.
It was at LaSalle when he first noticed that baseball could turn into something more than just a hobby. " (The) first time I realized I could move on was in high school when (I started) getting recruited by colleges". Batting .411 as a sophomore and an even .500 as a junior certainly didn't hurt his college chances. Even though he is now primarily a catcher, he was twice named to the all-area team as a first baseman. His biggest award was being named the top high school baseball player in the state of New York.
With colleges taking notice of his talent, Will chose Temple University in Philadelphia to start his college baseball career. As a freshman, he appeared in 45 games, starting 39 at catcher. Facing college pitchers for the first time didn't seem to intimidate him at all, batting .321 for the season. That included 52 hits, 26 RBI, and an OPS of .791 to round out his batting line. However, 2011 would be his first and only year at the North Philadelphia school. "(The) baseball experience at Temple wasn't what I thought it would be".
In order to transfer, he would have to sit out a year before continuing his career. This meant starting at his new school, Coastal Carolina, in his junior season in 2013. He enjoyed his time there more, and turned in another strong performance. While at Coastal, the chance of becoming a professional "became more of a reality" after meeting with area scouts.
The dream would become a reality in June 2013. In the 19th round of the amateur draft, the Chicago Cubs selected Will with the second pick of that round. He says it was really exciting to be drafted, and he realizes what it means to be drafted by such a storied franchise. "(They) have a lot of history, a lot of great things going on".
He would have to wait a little while to start his professional career, as a lower back injury sidelined him after being drafted. His rehab took place at the Cubs new spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona, which he calls "great". He was ready to go for the start of spring training this season, and spent time with the big league club. "(It was) awesome to be around guys who play in the major leagues, (see) how they go about their business".
After spring training, Will was assigned to Kane County to begin his minor league journey. So far just like his college days, it has been a success. Appearing in 15 games in April, he batted .373, knocked in 15 runs, and finished the month with a 1.007 OPS. Even with a loaded farm system that features numerous future big leaguers, Will was named Minor League Player of the Month in the Cubs system.
On the field, he considers himself "more of a defensive minded catcher". When it comes to handling pitchers, he says that he learns what they can or can't do, and then play to their strengths. As for trying to throw out runners at second, Will doesn't think it should matter if there is a right or left handed batter up, but might be a little bit easier with a lefty at the plate. He said it is easier to throw out runners at third with a lefty batting. However, during the game after our interview he nailed a runner trying to steal third with a right handed batter up. So much for that theory.
Will Remillard has a bright future in the Cubs organization, and you can hear the confidence in his voice. It's not arrogance or over-confidence by any means, just someone who believes in their talent and ability. It's hard not to hope for the best for a person like that, and I think Cubs fans will do just that once they get to see him play on a regular basis.