Albert Cartwright Interview: Phillies Prospect Returns to Baseball
Sunday September 18, 2011
MLB reports: We are proud today to feature on MLB reports: Albert Cartwright, Philadelphia Phillies prospect. Albert was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2007 MLB draft. After four seasons playing in the Astros organization, Albert was traded in January of this year to the Phillies for reliever Sergio Escalona. 2011 tuned out to be a difficult season for Albert, as he was injured during spring training and unable to return to action. Fresh off his season-long rehabilitation, Albert is now heading to the instructional league and to resume baseball activity. Before his return, we had a chance to catch up with Albert and discuss many topics, including the trade, injury, growing up in the Bahamas and his career thus far in the world of professional baseball. Here is our interview with the second base prospect from the Philadelphia Phillies, Albert Cartwright:
MLB reports: Welcome to MLB reports Albert. It is a pleasure to have you on today. First question: growing up, who was your favorite baseball player, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Cartwright: Without a doubt Rafael Furcal. Growing up in the Bahamas, we never had the MLB network broadcasted and so watching baseball was limited to the few games that were shown on major networks. Of those games, I saw the Atlanta Braves the most. So I grew up watching Furcal and just loved the energy he brought to every game. He incorporated his speed into the game and I idolized his style as a young boy.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Cartwright: Jimmy Rollins. The excitement and spark that he brings every night to the Phillies is definitely worth admiration. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to meet and play with the great shortstop in the near future.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Cartwright: Being able to play this great game of baseball every day as a career is an accomplishment on its own. I’m just blessed to be given the opportunity. But if I had to single out one proud accomplishment, I would have to say that I will never forget the night that I hit three triples in a single game.
MLB reports: What were your goals going into the 2011 season? You missed the 2011 season due to injuries. What happened to you after getting traded to the Phillies in the offseason and the extent of your injuries that led to your lost season in 2011?
Cartwright: The goal for the big picture is always to make it to the top. Coming into each season though, my goal is to win a championship, regardless which league I’m playing in. I believe that with a winning mindset, your numbers will always be where you want them to be at the end of the year.
Getting traded to the Phillies in the offseason was shocking; it definitely was a wonderful surprise. After I calmed down from the excitement, I knew that I had a job to do and so I tried to prepare myself for the season even harder than ever before. A week into spring training, I tore my Achilles. As I pivoted into a turn during a conditioning exercise, I felt a pop and my ankle gave out. I went into surgery a day later and have been rehabbing ever since. I’ve never had any complications with my legs before, so the injury was definitely unexpected. But everything happens for a reason. So I just have to stay positive and keep on pushing.
MLB reports: When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions? Did those reactions change over time? What was the process like being drafted originally by the Mets in 2006 and not signing with either team? What made you decide to finally sign with the Astros in 2007?
Cartwright: Getting drafted by the Mets was exhilarating because I felt that my hard work was finally paying off and that someone was seeing something special in me. My reaction though was not hugely different a year later when I was picked up by the Astros, although I must admit it was slightly more rewarding since the Mets told me they were not going to sign me after the draft-and-follow. I didn’t think that I was going to be drafted that following year but thankfully the Astros took me.
Deciding to sign with Houston was fairly easy since they presented me with a fantastic offer and I saw it as a great opportunity for me.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Cartwright: Speed. Speed. Speed.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Cartwright: Definitely defense. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to playing defensively.
MLB reports: How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game? Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?
Cartwright: Strikeouts and walks play a major role in my game. If I strikeout too much, then I am pretty much rendered useless because I can’t use my speed. If I’m walking and getting on base, I can take advantage of my speed and the manager can have some fun shuffling around plays that would work best with me.
I feel that as time progresses and the more experience I get as a player, the number of walks I have should increase and strikeouts decrease. I should be able to see the ball better and in turn, make better decisions as a hitter.
MLB reports: Long term what position do you see yourself playing? How do you see defense as part of your overall game? With Chase Utley entrenched at second, any plans to change positions?
Cartwright: Hopefully I’ll stay at second but with Chase Utley there, as you mentioned, breaking out may be a little harder. That said, I’m open to anything that comes my way that can land me into the big leagues. I’m a converted infielder and so going back to the outfield isn’t anything major. Anything I can do to help the team win is fine by me.
Teams that are good defensively, who can catch and throw the ball, are usually the ones in first place because they can minimize the other team’s scoring opportunity. Defense is equally important to my game as being great at the plate.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
Cartwright: I would say 2012. Once I show that I can handle the stick, bunting, completing hit-and-runs, moving runners, stealing bases and going from first to third, I think that can get me there. I Just have to play the game the right way. I am anxious to get back into the game.
MLB reports: Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far? What are some of the highs and lows you have experienced?
Cartwright: Pro ball has been everything I was expecting: long bus rides, always eating late, living out of a suitcase and always being on the move. But I love it. Getting back to the hotel room to find a freshly made bed is always nice too.
My first career walk-off hit was definitely one of the highs. I always dreamt of getting a walk-off hit. Low moments would include sustaining injuries including tearing my Achilles which led to missing the entire 2011 season. Also, breaking my wrist in 2009. Basically anytime that I wasn’t playing could be regarded as a low moment.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?
Cartwright: When I’m not playing baseball, I like to go to the beach, play video games, and hang around with friends. I guess you can say I’m a little boring in the offseason, but I welcome the relaxation after a season full of hard work.
In the locker room, you can really get to know your teammates and so far, everyone has been really cool. Since we spend so many hours of the day together, everyone kind of hangs out with everyone else. I can name though a few teammates who I still talk to on a regular basis, like Jay Austin, Marques Williams, Kody Hinze, Edwin Walker, and Chris Turner. We are all jokesters so most of the time we’re clowning around and making fun of each other. Other times we will get back to the hotel and play video games, usually MLB or Madden (although I have to admit that I can’t play Call of Duty to save my life).
MLB reports: Have your visited Philadelphia the city yet? How have you found the city thus far?
Cartwright: Unfortunately not. I would’ve definitely visited had I went to Reading at the start of the season. I am looking forward to exploring the city though next year.
MLB reports: Were you surprised to be traded from the Astros in the offseason? What was your reaction and feelings moving from the Astros to the Phillies? How has it been thus far being a member of the Phillies organization?
Cartwright: I was overwhelmed and excited yet very nervous because I knew that it meant new people and a new system to get familiar with. The trade came as a shock to me; I didn’t know what to expect. But it has been smooth sailing so far, minus the injury. We have a great facility and everyone I’ve met so far has been extremely welcoming.
MLB reports: If you could send one message to the Philadelphia Phillies fans, what would it be?
Cartwright: See you soon.
MLB reports: Born in Winter Haven, Bahamas, at what age did you come to North America and start playing baseball? What is the state of baseball in the Bahamas and can we expect to see many prospects come from there in the future?
Cartwright: I’m glad you asked. This has been a mistake on my profile from the day I started playing pro ball. I was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas and moved to Delray Beach, FL in my sophomore year of high school to play baseball at American Heritage. From there, I went to Polk Community College in Winter Haven, FL. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure you can find any town by the name of ‘Winter’ in The Bahamas.
Baseball in The Bahamas is on the rise. There are a lot of young talents and I think we will have some more guys in the near future playing minor and major league baseball. As a matter of fact, a close friend from my hometown just made his breakthrough in the majors, Antoan Richardson with the Braves. He sets a great example, both for me and for all the young players back home: if you keep pushing, you will make it to the top someday. I am very happy for him!
Thank you again to Albert Cartwright for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Albert. As well, please feel free to contact Albert directly by Twitter (@acartwright12). He is very active on social media and welcomes your feedback!
**The photographs in today’s feature were provided by our guest, Albert Cartwright**
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