Interview with the King of Swag: Cardinals Prospect Chris Swauger

Sunday November 27, 2011

 


Jonathan Hacohen:  We are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Chris Swauger, outfield prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  When your nickname is Swags and your parent team wins the World Series, life is very sweet.  Swags was originally a 26th round pick for the Cardinals in the 2008 draft.  A steal for the Cardinals, Swags recently completed his 4th professional season.  2011 was his first full season in AA ball and Swags definitely did not disappoint.  Hitting .296 on the season, Swags popped 12 home runs in only 114 games, with 56 RBIs, 52 runs scored, .343 OBP and .442 SLG.  Swags also showed a good eye at the plate by only striking out 67 times.  The upcoming season represents a big one for Swags, as he looks to move up to AAA Memphis and eventually, the show.  One of the most down to earth people that I have ever met, Swags had me in stitches every time we spoke.  In my estimation, Swags represents everything that is good and real about the game of baseball.  While he is 110% devoted and dedicated to the sport, he does not take himself too seriously and keeps the game fun and loose.  Get ready for some great baseball talk- Swags is definitely one of a kind!

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Swags, aka Chris Swauger – Cardinals Prospect:

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MLB reports:  The year is 2008.  You find out that you are drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.  How did you find out and first reactions?

Swags:  Honestly, I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen.  After a few months of every scout telling me I was one of the best seniors available and would go in the top 10 rounds, I sat at my computer for almost two days waiting.  I nearly went blind tracking it into the 20th round and just walked away from the computer.  After being told by my mother to get a real job, I happened to walk by the study where the online radio broadcast was being streamed and heard my name.  I figured it was a mistake and checked the Draft Tracker.  There was my name in the 26th Round by the St. Louis Cardinals.  As upset as I was before, my emotions turned to pure elation that I would have a chance.  They say senior-signs play for a plane ticket and a jockstrap.  My jockstrap must have gotten lost in the mail.

 

MLB reports:  Going to school at The Citadel:  Pretty cool!  Can you drive a tank or fly an airplane?  What kind of military training do you have?

Swags:  Let me clarify that I PLAYED BASEBALL at The Citadel.  That is completely different from being a regular cadet.  I did get some mandatory ROTC Training and ran a few obstacle courses, but the only tanks and planes I can pilot are the GI Joe models stuffed in the attic with all my old baby toys.  However, I can shine shoes, sweep floors, and make hospital corners on beds with the best of them (I may be qualified to open a retirement home with that type of training).  Basically, I gained a great understanding of discipline and time management going to a military school and it has absolutely made me the man I am today.

 

MLB reports:  Did you know that the Cardinals were going after you in the draft- where did you think you were headed?

Swags:  I had gotten a letter from the area scout, but the first time I talked to him was when he called me to congratulate me on being selected.  I honestly had no idea where I was headed I just wanted to play.  I had no idea who wanted me or where I would go.  And, for 784 picks, I was certain I was going to graduate school.

 

MLB reports:  As a 22-year old rookie- you played in Batavia the year you were drafted.  Tell us about your experiences in Batavia, New York and what the heck is a Muckdog?

Swags:  First of all, a Muckdog is a CHAMPION! One of the best experiences of my life was that championship season in Batavia.  It was my first dose of professional baseball and I got the prescription strength.  First day of practice our cleats were clicking on the rocks in the outfield that used to be a parking lot.  I was fortunate enough to get a host family that provided me with transportation, a 1989 Huffy 5-speed mountain bike.  The swiveling seat and rotating handlebars came standard on that model.  A kickstand did not.  The good news was that I could be anywhere I wanted in Batavia in 20 minutes on that hog.  The lack of anything really fun to do made our team rely on itself for entertainment and with a group like ours that was not hard to find.  In an attempt to keep this interview below an NC-17 rating, I will not go into detail but I will say the shenanigans involved a one-eyed dog, two broken chandeliers, swimmies, M-80s, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a clothes hamper being mistaken for a urinal.  As far as on the field, we started the season with more errors than hits in our first 3 games, rattled off 12 wins in a row at one point, and rode solid pitching and clutch hitting to a championship celebration.  We were rewarded with a trophy, banner, and a Venezuelan flag.  Not sure how that snuck in there.

 

MLB reports:  You have posted some nice numbers every stop so far in your career.  What is the key to your game- will it be Bautista home run power, Rickey Henderson speed or Willie Mays defense?

Swags:  I appreciate the compliment but I don’t think i deserve to be mentioned with those names just yet.  There is no doubt the key to my game is hard work.  I will admit I am talented and would not be here if I were not, but work ethic that I learned at the Citadel and with the Cardinals is the only reason I am still around.  I have no problem with that.  I would not change one thing about my career path thus far.  I would change about 20 things.  I would have gone in the first round, signed for $4 million, would have been 6’5″…

 

MLB reports:  From Batavia you went to Quad Cities, Palm Beach and Springfield.  Compare the four teams you have played for so far- which has been your favorite and why?

Swags:  There really isn’t that much difference between the teams I have played for in my career.  That is a testament to the consistency that exists within our system.  We preach executing the fundamentals…and don’t be afraid to hit a 3-run homer.  Each team has been my favorite at the time because each stop has its own new experiences and team personality.  Looking back I would have to go with Palm Beach because I’m a native Floridian and I loved getting to play in front of my family and friends quite a bit.  The weather wasn’t too bad either.  I lobbied for shirtless BP a few times but our coaches had no concept of tan lines.  I still cherish the memories of the other places as well.  The atmosphere and the people in Quads and Springfield were unmatched.  Batavia became like a home to me, if only because I was on a first name basis with all 50 residents.  Everywhere I have gone I have enjoyed and will continue to do the same.

 
 
MLB reports:  Do you see yourself playing outfield long-term:  corner or centerfield?

Swags:  I see myself playing catcher if that’s what I have to do to get to the big leagues.

 

MLB reports:  How long have you been playing this game Chris- was baseball always the “plan”?  Why not rock star or monster truck driver?

Swags:  Rock-star is still my back-up plan.  I only recently learned to drive a stick-shift, so I will require more education in order to get in a monster truck. “The Plan” with baseball started out with making my high school team.  Then, it was try not to embarrass yourself in high school.  Then, it changed to try to play in college.  Then, it became try to get drafted my junior year.  Then, it became well, there’s always senior year.  Then, it was woohoo I got drafted.  Then, I thought does this really count as a signing “bonus”? Then, it switched to wow I never knew how bad I was at this.  Then, I got better.  And THAT has been the key to the whole plan and why it is still in progress.  I AM A WORK IN PROGRESS.  There is an end game, but “the plan” keeps adjusting with every pitch, out, inning, game, and season.

 

MLB reports:  You just finished off your 2nd year in AA- will we be seeing you in Memphis in 2012?

Swags:  I hope so because I certainly don’t want to gain Double A Veteran status.  I think I have earned a spot in Memphis, but this game is fickle sometimes and our organization has a tremendous amount of talent.  That being said, if my career turns into a NASCAR race (aka another lap around the Texas League) the only thing I can do is be thankful to still be playing and fighting for an opportunity.

 

MLB reports:  Watching your team win the World Series must have been cool.  They won it 2006 before you were drafted and again in 2011.  How badly did you want to be on the field playing with the big club in October?

Swags:  To play in a World Series is every 6-year-old’s dream.  Conveniently, I still act like a 6-year-old so it’s still my dream. It was great getting to see some guys that I have played with get to experience that and I hope and pray I get that opportunity some day.  It’s what gets me up in the morning; that and the rooster that lives next door to me right now.

 

MLB reports:  You have a great name for baseball:  do teammates call you Swag or Swags?  Do you have swagger my man?

Swags:  Swag, Swags, Schwaugs, Schwaaaaaaaaugs, Swagga, and Swagness.  The only name I’ve never heard on a baseball field is Chris.  As far as the swagger goes, that must be a rhetorical question.

 

MLB reports:  What do you need to do to make it to St. Louis and play in the show?

Swags:  The entire starting outfield to get hurt.

 

MLB reports:  Toughest pitcher you have faced in the minors?

Swags:  That would have to be an old St. Louis farmhand who now plays in the Angels organization, Matt Meyer.  In only a couple of at bats against him, he has effectively gotten me to swing at a pitch that hit me, shattered two of my bats, and is the reason I started wearing a shin guard.

 

MLB reports:  Longest home run you have hit in your career?

Swags:  In Batavia, I hit one on the basketball court behind right field.  I was told later that it went through the hoop and  gave someone an H in HORSE.

 

MLB reports:  Do you remember your first professional home run- what was the home run trot like?

Swags:  I remember the home run and the advice I was given prior to it.  I was in Batavia, getting ready to face my first knuckleballer.  My hitting coach said, “See the ball at your eyes and swing as hard as you can.” I was fresh out of the Citadel and pretty good at following orders, so I went up there and tomahawked the first pitch I saw out to center.  I remember running around the bases with a huge grin knowing a career in beer league softball was waiting for me if the MLB didn’t work out.

 

MLB reports:  What song plays when you come up to bat?

Swags:  “Here Comes The Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze.  My goal is to make everyone in the stadium’s head perk up and then immediately start bobbing. Done.

 

MLB reports:  Any superstitions/rituals you have before and after games?

Swags:  I try to stay away from superstitions and rituals because it always ends up being too much to keep up with.  For some guys it becomes an obsession.  I once had a summer ball coach question guys who wrote Bible verses on their shoes.  He said “I guess everyone needs a crutch in life.”  I think he has reserved his spot in hell.

 

MLB reports:  Final question:  if you could change one thing about baseball- what would it be and why?

Swags:  I should be allowed to eject the umpire.  Self-explanatory.

 

Thank you again to Chris Swauger 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 Swags.  As well, please follow Swags on Twitter (@CSwag8)

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on November 27, 2011, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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