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Q&A with Rockies prospect Ryan Vilade

@JonathanMayo
March 9, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Vilade was the Rockies’ second-round pick in 2017 out of the Texas high school ranks and is currently the organization’s No. 4 prospect. He’s coming off of a .303/.367/.466 season in the Class A Advanced California League and attended his first big league camp this spring.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Vilade was the Rockies’ second-round pick in 2017 out of the Texas high school ranks and is currently the organization’s No. 4 prospect. He’s coming off of a .303/.367/.466 season in the Class A Advanced California League and attended his first big league camp this spring.

MLB.com: You just finished up your first big league camp. What are some of the things you’re going to take away from that experience?

Ryan Vilade: It was a great first big league camp. I learned a lot from all the guys, all the big leaguers. I’m just continuing to work every day, and I got to see what it takes to become an everyday big leaguer from all those guys up there. So I’m just continuing to work and getting better every day.

MLB.com: There are a lot of guys you could learn from there. Who were some you really were able to connect with?

Vilade: I got to work with Nolan (Arenado) and Trev (Trevor Story) on the defensive side and also Charlie Blackmon in the outfield and those guys. They taught me a lot, some little things I can take with me this season, from the infield and outfield perspective.

MLB.com: You need to get some facial hair tips from Charlie.

Vilade: Absolutely. He definitely has the look going for him.

MLB.com: You mentioned playing the outfield. That was something new for you. How is that going for you? Is it something that took some time for you to get used to?

Vilade: I’ve been working a lot in the outfield right now. I’m comfortable there. Every day, it’s getting a little bit better. I’m continuing to do footwork and learn the position. I think it can be a spot for me, where I could have some success.

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MLB.com: Was it difficult at all as a guy who was a shortstop in high school to give up on being known as a shortstop?

Vilade: It was definitely tough at first. But the Rockies want to do what’s best for me, and I trust them. Whatever gets me to the big leagues, I’ll do that. I think outfield and corner infield will be a good spot for me.

MLB.com: The ballparks at the lower levels of the Rockies system are all so great to hit in: Asheville in the South Atlantic League and Lancaster in the California League. How do you try not to get too ahead of yourself or get out of your game when you have to hit in those places?

Vilade: As a hitter, those are great spots to hit. You just have to stick with your approach -- not doing too much, continuing to drive the ball in the gaps. Hits will come. I just try to have hard contact every at-bat and whatever happens, happens.

MLB.com: What have been the biggest steps forward for you? You took a nice step in 2019 and then between the end of the season and the mini-camp here in November, it sounds like you got a lot stronger.

Vilade: My season this last year was really good and I had a great coaching staff that helped me along the way. We started to use the machine a little bit more, with the velo, being able to get to that fastball inside. Then this offseason, I continued to get bigger and stronger and still working on the things I worked on last season. Coming into camp this year, I felt good. I felt I had a good big league camp and want to bring that into Minor League camp.

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MLB.com: Your father has coached in the Minor Leagues and in college. What were the benefits of having a coach/dad?

Vilade: My dad has taught me a lot about the game of baseball. It’s always good to have him, and it’s always good to have the coaches here. You want to get something, a little bit, from everyone. My dad is my hitting coach in the offseason, but I trust our coaches we have here. Whatever they say, I’ll trust them and add it to my game for sure.

MLB.com: Was it hard at all to decide not to head to college, where you would’ve been able to play for your dad?

Vilade: My dad spent six years in Double-A with the Rangers. It would’ve been great to play for him in college, but at the time of the Draft, going to pro ball was the right decision for me, and that’s what I really wanted to do. My family supports me, and so far, I’ve made the right decision to do that.

MLB.com: Can you talk about the work your family does in bringing baseball to kids with special needs?

Vilade: My dad started a foundation called Keeper of the Game. It helps kids with special needs and disabilities to be part of the game of baseball, whether that’s bringing them out to a game, providing equipment, all that kind of stuff. [My family and I] are very big into it. We love to help anyone who needs help. You can go to keeperofthegame.org and check us out.

MLB.com: What drew your family to that work?

Vilade: My mom was a special education teacher. She still does that. My dad has always been involved with the Special Olympics community, so he just thought this was a way to give back to them. So he started it, and it’s really taken off. A lot of big leaguers are involved with it, and we’ll continue to do it. Being able to share the game with those kids, that’s what it’s all about.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.