L.V. Ware Interview: The Hometown Prospect is Grinding His Way Back to Atlanta
Sunday February 12th, 2012
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Get ready for a real treat today fans. This is another interview that has been a year in the works. He has a hectic schedule, but we finally pinned down one of the great young players in the game for an interview. One of our favorite all-time twitter masters is finally here. Atlanta Braves outfielder prospect, L.V. Ware. If you spend any kind of time on Twitter, the name L.V. has come up in your timeline at some point. One of the most fan-friendly athletes that you will ever meet, L.V. has that special charisma about him. Baseball fans from all over flock to speak to him. With almost 3,000 followers on Twitter and growing by the day, L.V. is certainly cementing his place in the baseball social media world.
Now for the 411 on L.V. Ware. The Atlanta Braves prospect will be 25-years of age come opening day. He can play all three outfield positions, but center is his primary position. His game is built on defense and getting on-base. He can steal you a base, as shown by his consistent base stealing over his career (highlighted by a career-high 30 steals in 2010). When Curtis Granderson is your primary modern-day role model, you know that you aim high. I can definitely see why L.V. would look up to Granderson. He plays the game the right way and has become one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball. But besides working hard on the field, Granderson is a true ambassador to the game- working tirelessly for charities and kid-centric organizations. Hailing from Atlanta, I could see L.V. taking on a Granderson-type role in the community as a member of the Braves one day. He understands the importance of his role as a role model and leader. The Braves have a good one in their system and Atlanta fans will definitely enjoy this young man for years to come.
Exclusively on MLB reports, we proudly feature our interview with the one and only, L.V. Ware- Atlanta Braves Prospect. Ever wonder what the L.V. stands for? Plus you won’t believe what L.V. would be doing for a living if he wasn’t playing baseball. Get ready to find out all these answers and more:
Who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
That’s pretty easy to answer: Ken Griffey Jr. is my obvious choice. He was “The Kid”, the only player that stood out during my younger days in my mind. Every time baseball was mentioned in my household or around it, there was one key factor- Ken Griffey Jr. By far one of the greatest outfielders to ever play the game, let alone dominating at a young age. I owned every pair of Griffey Swingman sneakers that came out when I was younger, and even had quite a few Mariners shirts with his name on them. When I made the transition to the outfield in high school, the first glove I wanted was a Rawlings Trapeze, to be just like him. He played the game the right way, stayed out the media for negative news, and you always heard about him doing positive things in the community. The perfect role model for a young man growing up in the inner city of Atlanta if you ask me. He will always be the best outfielder I’ve seen with my own two eyes.
Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
It’s tough to decide one player because they are guys that I admire not only because of their baseball talents, but also because of what they do off the field. Torii Hunter is one, he goes about his business professionally on and off the field. Helps in the community a lot, but yet still is able to be one of the most humble men in baseball. C.C. Sabathia is also a great man. He does so much for RBI (Rebuilding Baseball in Inner Cities), which is a program that I came up through as a young adolescent. To me, it’s the simple things in life that you can do that will make a difference in someone’s life. Whether you know it or not, helping in any way you can goes a long way.
My overall favorite player that I admire in Major League Baseball is Curtis Granderson. From the field to the locker room, interviews to helping in the community, I have yet to see any wrong doings by Curtis Granderson. He plays the game the way it should be played. Goes 100% from the first pitch until the last out. Addresses the media with class, and always has something positive to say about his team and teammates regardless of the outcome of a game. The perfect role model to myself. I am a firm believer that you get what you put in it. It could be in the game, in the clubhouse, at home, or just in life in general. What you make of yourself is what you have driven yourself to become. Not a single person makes you do anything in your life without you having the final decision for yourself. Curtis is someone I look up to and hope to one day follow in his footsteps. His desire to be great is just amazing. The love he shares for his teammates and all the others he touches in life is something you just can’t teach. You have to be born with it.
Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
My number one moment is representing my country in the 2005 Junior National Pan Am games in Mexico. Being a part of Team USA was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had as a baseball player, PERIOD! It’s not about just the fact that I got to do something I love doing, but the fact that I represented my country as well. There are over 10 million kids who dream of playing baseball professionally I would estimate. But how many of those kids will get a chance to represent the country that they live in? Every year, young men are drafted with the opportunity to play professional baseball, but I was chosen to be a member of Team USA. The magnitude of just that statement says how blessed I am to have gotten that chance. At 18, my only goals were to graduate high school, go to college, or play professional baseball. When I received the call to try out for Team USA, I had accomplished two out of three of those goals.
I went on that summer and made the Junior National team, travelling to Mexico to play for two weeks. Came up short in the championship game to Cuba, but yet it was a feeling that I will never forget. Winning an Appalachian League Championship would have to come second in my baseball career. Our team was incredibly talented from top to bottom and we had a coaching staff that stayed on us and pushed us beyond our limits, even when we wanted to quit. Having a record of 47-21 is pretty darn good. I’m just glad I was able to be a part of that success and to play the role that I did in being a leader on that team.
What are your goals going into the 2012 season?
Number one goal is the stay healthy! You can ask any player in any sport what the number one goal for them is, and I’m sure a good 85% would say to stay healthy. It’s the more important part of your job. If you aren’t healthy and unable to play, then you can’t accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself. It’s like a ladder effect that all starts with your health. I really just want to go into this season with a mind-set of giving it 100% at all times and letting the results take care of themselves. Giving everything I got to become better in every aspect of the game is all I can do. Baseball is a game of failure, so I expect to fail this year. But I know that learning from failure only can add to the change you want to make, if you can single out what the problem is. I may not be able to correct it right away, but it’s a grind to stay consistent in this game. If I can stay consistent a good portion of the year, the sky is the limit to what I can accomplish if I’m healthy.
When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions? What was the process like being drafted originally by the Cubs in 2005 and the Braves in 2006? What made you decide to finally sign with the Braves after turning down the Cubs?
I was shocked honestly. I was at home laying in the bed, not even keeping up with the draft because I was sold on going to college. I received a phone call from Antonio Grissom from the Cubs asking if I would sign for a slot amount that they offered in the 20th round. I said no, but they drafted me anyways. It was an intense process leading up to my fall semester of college, but couldn’t work anything out so I went to college. I was a draft-and-follow, so they had a whole year to watch me play and proceed in contract talks after the season. Once the season was over, we had some discussions about figures for me signing but I chose to go back into the draft. A week later I was back home in Atlanta when I received a call from Al Goetz saying that the Braves would take me in the 43rd round and wanted me to go back to school to refine my game. I was perfectly fine with that… and that is exactly what I did. Into the fall semester I signed with the University of South Carolina and had rotator cuff surgery in November. When the spring season approached, I was ready but I performed sub par to my expectations. But the Braves were still interested in signing me. Al came down to visit me at school and showed me some figures as to where they stood on signing me. The truth was that I could not turn away from the offer of being part of my hometown organization. After breakfast and some phone calls to the front office, I became the 1st signing of the Braves in 2006 and the rest is history. I couldn’t be any prouder to be a part of such an amazing organization, let alone be playing for my hometown team.
What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
I personally believe defense is my strongest skill on the diamond. Being able to read a ball off the bat is not easy. It took some time to learn how to play the outfield, but now that I’m an outfielder on a regular basis doesn’t mean I stop either. Batting practice is where it all begins! I have to take every fly ball like it’s a game situation, so when the situation happens in the game- it becomes natural to you. That’s the number one place to becoming a good defender. You don’t have to be the fastest guy on the field because your route to the ball will determine if you make the play or not. I’m a pretty quicker runner, so that adds to my defense. But I don’t take defense for granted one bit. There are a lot of guys in the big leagues who are there solely for their defense. If that ends up happening to me, then I would accept the job because I could still help my team in a way where my strongest skill is valuable to get wins. It’s not about how you get there, but actually getting there. We all share the same dream. Some will make it, but a lot won’t. Nobody really remembers how you got there. But the fact that you actually made it, everyone remembers.
What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Controlling the bat the consistently! Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. It’s tough as it is to barrel up baseballs not moving fast. But to consistently hit a moving ball well is even harder. This is a job that you can never stop trying to get better at. Regardless of whether you are feeling comfortable, relaxed, or even in the zone; there is always room to work on your swing to make it consistent. On another note, I also am looking to walk more this season. Last year was a little better, but I still need to walk a lot more and reduce my strikeouts.
How do home runs and walks figure overall into your game?
Home runs are totally NOT in my game. As a leadoff hitter or 8-hole hitter, my job is to get on base. Be a pesky out and cause havoc to the pitcher. Trying to hit home runs only messes up my swing because I have no need to try to elevate a ball in the air. My game is singles, doubles, and triples if they happen. Walks fall in my category because it puts me on base for the guys in the middle of the line up to do their job, which is drive in runs. The higher I go up- I’m sure the home runs will decrease, which is fine with me because I want the number of walks to increase. I have to be selective when it comes to pitches and not chase a “pitcher’s pitch”. Once a pitcher knows he has you at a weakness, he will take advantage at all costs if he can be effective with his location.
We know your first name is Leonardo – What does the V stand for? Were you named after anyone special?
This is a question I get so much! Haha, but my first name is Leonardo but my middle name actually doesn’t begin with a “V”. I see it a lot on websites or in programs, but my middle name actually begins with the letter “D”. My name is Leonardo DaVinci Ware II, but the V comes from my father’s middle name. When I was younger, I was told that I was a spitting image of my father. So they were looking for a nickname… and that is where L.V. came into play. My dad nickname growing up was Vince, for what reason I have no clue haha. But, people started calling me Little Vince and it’s always stuck with me. Once I started playing in showcases and tournaments, people would ask if I had a nickname because Leonardo didn’t sound like a baseball name. Once I told them L.V.- it took over from there. Everything I received in the mail, via emails and phone calls all were addressed to L.V. Ware. So that’s the reason I go by L.V., instead of Leonardo. Plus, Leonardo sounds weird coming out of people’s mouths.
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?
That would be one blurry crystal ball to be honest. Baseball is a game where you never know whats going to happen and when it will happen. You play for every organization in the game, so someone is always watching you. Maybe your team doesn’t feel that your big league ready, but then another team may actually feel differently. I’ve witnessed guys signing with a club, then 3 to 5 days later they are gone in a trade. It’s just the business aspect of professional baseball. People tend to forget that this is a business and not just a game. Nothing in the game is guaranteed! I would love to stay consistent with the bat and be in the big leagues in the near future, but me seeing an expected time in not a clear picture. For me to get to the big leagues, I strongly believe it all boils down to me being able to control the bat on a consistent basis, and the defense will take care of itself.
If you were not playing professional baseball, you would be ____________
I would be trying to be or would be a mortician. I had a best friend who was one is high school and I used to go up to the funeral home to learn. My friend was killed in an accident in August of 2008 so part of me wants to live his dream out which was to own a funeral home. I have no problem with dead bodies, and its like preparing them for the ultimate party in heaven. More than likely if I wasn’t playing baseball, I would be a mortician. Although I do have a dream of working in baseball. Another option would be moving up north and working with my boys Allan & Richard of DS Wood Bats. I had the chance to meet Allan this season and we’ve built a relationship that goes further than business. These guys have become like brothers to me. They always check on me- on every aspect of life. Making sure family is doing great, checking on how my everyday process of ball is going, just call to speak and make sure I’m having a great day. It’s the little things in life like that, that make you truly appreciate people in this society. I have the utmost respect for both of these young men who are fulfilling dreams of their own providing baseball players with amazing quality of baseball bats. As long as I continue to play baseball, DS Wood bats will be the only bats I swing.
What do you do for fun away from the ballpark?
Honestly, I sleep! Haha, have to get rest whenever possible. I’ll lounge around watch movies, play video games- but that’s really about it. Enjoy a day with my teammates, playing games or cards and let my body catch up on the rest it needs. I’m a homebody person, so I enjoy the indoors.
Which of your teammates are you closest with – any good stories?
I hold a pretty good relationship with all my teammates. I’m an open guy, usually the guy on the team that just gets things going. Rather it be acting goofy and making people laugh, or trying to be a leader and pushing guys beyond their limits. There is plenty of stories to be told, but when you hold a bond with guys, it is tough to reveal things because they all have their special place within each other. One good story though is being a part of the 2009 Danville Braves team. Majority of the guys on that team have stuck together from that year on. From Rome to Myrtle Beach all together in 2010, with a good portion of those guys together this past year in Mississippi. We all hold the highest respect for one another, and our friendships continue on and off the field, as well during the offseason.
Toughest pitcher you ever faced?
Robbie Ross & Drew Pomeranz, two great left-handed pitchers. They both work quick and pound the zone with all their pitches. Not afraid to battle you at any given moment, plus they will never give in regardless of the situation.
Best and worst parks you ever played in?
Best parks goes to Myrtle Beach (Rangers), Salem (Red Sox), and Winston-Salem (White Sox). My worst probably would have to be Princeton (Rays).
Longest career home run?
Have no idea how far it went, but I hit a nice little shot this year in Winston-Salem.
Long-term, do you see yourself in center?
If I can stay healthy year-in and year-out, without a doubt I do. I play all three outfield positions, which is a plus for me. But center is where my heart is and where I play the best.
Final thought: Message you want to send to the Braves fans?
I would like to let Braves fans know that this year we are coming out with the mentality of not coming up short of a World Series. Injuries have plagued us, as have late game collapses. But this year, we are ready to change all of those things. We need your support for every pitch, every out, for every inning! You all are our strength. We need to finish games, so please be ready to root for us when we take the field. I hope you all are ready for one great season ahead of us, as we are ready to bring another World Series back to Atlanta. Enjoy the season, as we will be bringing you guys some great baseball in 2012!
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Posted on February 12, 2012, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged Atlanta Braves, baseball, c.c. sabathia torii hunter, chicago cubs, curtis granderson, DS Wood Bats, l.v. ware, mlb, outfielder, prospect. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.