Q&A with Pirates prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes

March 27th, 2017

As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Pirates camp, it was No. 6 prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes.
BRADENTON, Fla -- Ke'Bryan Hayes, the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, was taken by the Pirates with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2015 Draft. His first full season of pro ball was interrupted by a broken rib, and the third baseman hit .266/.323/.397 in 252 at-bats.
MLBPipelne.com: This is your second Spring Training. How does this one feel different from your first go-round?
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Hayes: It started with the offseason. I was injured, but once I was able to get back healthy, just knowing how to take care of my body this year was important. Now that I'm here, everything feels more slowed down, because I know the rhythm of what we do every day.
MLBPipelne.com: How frustrating was the injury to deal with last year?
Hayes: We didn't know what it was. We thought it was something having to do with my back. Then we finally got an X-ray back that showed it was a broken rib. It was good that we finally found out what it was, and now I know what to do if I get injured. Being able to get back healthy was awesome.
Pipeline report: Pirates' camp
MLBPipelne.com: You've changed your diet a lot to get ready for this year. What kinds of things did you do?
Hayes: I feel nutrition is really important. I was already on the right page, but I feel this offseason, I really took it to the next level. I started weighing my food out and put together a meal plan. Every now and again, I'd have a cheat meal, like once a week. But for the most part, I stayed pretty clean. I only drink water now. On the field, every day, I feel a lot better. I don't feel tired. I'm going to stick with it during the season. I can't wait to see how I feel during the season.
MLBPipelne.com: What's the go-to cheat meal?
Hayes: I had two this past offseason. One was Chick-fil-A, I would get a spicy chicken sandwich, a three-count strip, 12 nuggets and fries. The other one would be a burrito bowl from Chipotle and a burrito, and I found this ice cream that's a little healthier called Halo Top. I'd get a pint of that.
MLBPipelne.com: You've worked really hard on your defense. How much pride do you take on that part of your game?
Hayes: I feel like making an error is worse than striking out, to me. I like working on defense almost as much as offense. Losing some weight has helped me with my first step. That's really big at third base, because you don't have time, you just have to react. Defense is key; it wins games.
MLBPipelne.com: The Pirates don't shy away from pushing young draftees to full-season ball. Injury aside, you had an up-and-down first full year. What were your takeaways from some of the adversity you faced?
Hayes: I started out real hot, but then the second time around the league, pitchers did their homework on me. It's good that I got to go through that. It was the first time I had a long stint of failure. This year, going in, whenever I'm having trouble, I'll know I can work harder and adjust.
MLBPipelne.com: When you go through stretches like that, having someone like your dad to help has to be beneficial, doesn't it?
Hayes: It's very beneficial. He and my brother, because my brother pitched. I'll walk through at-bats with my brother and he knows what pitchers are trying to do, what they look for in a swing. My dad, he doesn't say too much to me. He likes to stay out of the way. If I ask him about something, he'll answer. But for the most part, he hangs back.
MLBPipelne.com: Is there motivation for you to be better than he was?
Hayes: Obviously, yes. We always talk about it. People tell me, "You play just like your dad." I always tell them, "I play better than him." One day I hope to get more rings than he had.
MLBPipelne.com: What are your goals for the coming season?
Hayes: My main priority is to play a full season injury-free. I just want to see what I can do for a full season and how I can adjust to what pitchers are trying to do to me.