Q&A with Royals prospect Bobby Witt Jr.

March 16th, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Bobby Witt Jr. was the Royals’ first-round pick of the 2019 Draft, taken No. 2 overall. The son of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt, Witt Jr. made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League and is currently the Royals’ No. 1 prospect, and No. 10 on the Top 100. We spoke to Witt shortly before Spring Training was suspended.

MLB.com: You’re just starting your first Spring Training. You’ve spent a lot of time at this complex already after your pro debut and instructs. But how does this feel different after your first offseason to be here for your first professional Spring Training?

Witt: The first professional Spring Training is always a real eye-opener, just getting to see all the big league guys when you come out here on the other side of the field. And getting to meet all the other guys, since I was in the AZL last summer, not getting to meet the guys from Burlington, Lexington, Idaho Falls, Wilimington even up to Double-A and Triple-A, getting to meet those guys and the future teammates of mine. I’m getting settled in really well and I’m having a lot of fun because I used to kind of grow up going to Spring Training and now I get to participate, it’s a blast.

MLB.com: The weather’s a little better this time of year compared to the AZL, isn’t it?

Witt: Definitely, 110 with like air conditioning, hot breeze blowing at you? I’d say 75 and sunny is a lot better.

MLB.com: Are there times, after growing up going to Spring Training, that you look around and can’t believe you’re actually here?

Witt: This is kind of what I’ve always worked for my whole entire life, this is where I wanted to be, not in college, just going out and playing professional baseball. And now I get this opportunity here and I want to make the most of it and just go out there and play the same game that I’ve always been playing ever since I was 4-5 years old. And getting to meet the teammates, creating a good bond with those guys because we’ll hopefully be working our way up together and try to make a championship culture out of all of this.

MLB.com: Who have you really been able to bond with here so far?

Witt: All the players, how the Royals do things, all the players they draft and sign, they’re all first class to me. Especially since I’m the younger guy out here, just getting to know them and they’re kind of putting me under their wings, especially Nick Pratto, Brewer Hicklen, a bunch of those guys that were up in High A. They’re showing me the ropes in my first Spring Training.

MLB.com: Are there guys on the big league side you’ve really keyed in on in terms of how they go about their business?

Witt: Just watching all of them. If you’re walking by any of the practice fields, or walking by the cages and see them in there, they’re big leaguers. They’re doing it the right way. Just seeing what they do, like {Adalberto) Mondesi taking ground balls, how quick he is, how smooth he is, he’s having fun out there, too. Seeing and in the cage and just how they go about their business. , all these veterans doing their thing. They bring that into the game setting and they’re just the same people every day. They’ll say hi to you. They’re big leaguers but they’re people, too, so they’re coming up to you and talking to you. All the big leaguers with the Royals, they’re awesome.

MLB.com: This was the first time you had a real offseason. What was the preparation like for you and how was it different than preparing for a high school season?

Witt: It was a lot of working out, five days a week with a couple of guys, Cody Thomas with the Dodgers and Collin Theroux with the A’s, guys who are in pro ball, too. They’ve done it the past four or five years in the offseason, so they kind of showed me the ropes with that, keeping my body feeling good, going out hitting, fielding, taking ground balls, getting my arm ready for the season. Just getting in that good routine for the offseason since it’s the first one and I’ve got a lot of games upcoming and have to get the body right for this year.

MLB.com: Do you feel a difference?

Witt: I definitely feel different, physically and mentally. Last year when I signed, I was probably about 180, 175 pounds. Now I’m probably 195 pounds. And I’ve actually gotten faster, so it shows that I’ve put on the muscle now and it’s gotten me faster. I’m able to lift more weights now and I’m stronger as a whole. I’m getting more physical, on the field whether it’s hitting, the balls are coming off differently, throwing the ball is coming out of my hand differently.

MLB.com: One of the things that has always stood out with you is the joy you play with. Where does that come from? Baseball can be a grind, everyone talks about it being a game of failure, but you play like you’re an 8-year-old playing in the backyard. How do you maintain that?

Witt: I just have this opportunity here that not a lot of people have had and I have to not take that for granted. Just growing up, playing this game and watching the game, this is always what I’ve wanted to do every since I was 4-5-6 years old. This game brings me a joy. Whenever I’m out on the field I feel like a different person. I feel like I’m walking on water out there doing those things. Whenever I put the uniform on or hitting in the cages, fielding ground balls, it’s just something that brings me up. It’s amazing to have it with me, having the teammates who always have your back, too. You know everyone has your back throughout it all, so you just go out and have fun, just be yourself while you’re out there and don’t let this game get too hard on you. This game is meant for failure, so you have to have the right mindset and go out there and be you and have a lot of fun through it all. That’s kind of how I’ve taken my game from Little League baseball to high school baseball and now to professional baseball.

MLB.com: Take me through what an at-bat against your dad would be like.

Witt: From what I’ve heard, he was kind of wild, so maybe I’d be a little nervous at the plate, not to get drilled or something. I’d definitely see a couple of pitches, see if he’s around the zone that day. Then I’d sit on that fastball because he said he can throw that by anyone. Then if he’s throwing that breaker, I’d take that, and hopefully get him one time, take him deep.