Where are they now-Brad Chalk: Former Riverside High and Clemson University standout Brad Chalk was selected in the second round back in July by the San Diego Padres. Following his first taste of professional baseball, Chalk now finds himself in the off-season and took some time with DP to cover a range of topics spanning from high school ball to Omaha and from his gameday routines to facing Kerry Wood!
DP-Please list any pro statistics of importance, awards won, led league or organization, honors, etc:
BC-AZIL most improved for Padres
DP-Please list any major high school/college accolades:
BC-2 State championships (03, 04), Gatorade state player of the year (04), Team USA Silver medal for Jr. National Team (03); TPX Freshman All-American at Clemson (05), Tiger Baseball Award (06), Cape Cod All-Star game MVP (06), Preseason first team all-american by Baseball America (07), 2nd team All-ACC (07).
DP-What are some of your nicknames?
DP-What is your greatest high school thrill?
BC-The dog pile in my first state championship in 2003 against AC Flora.
DP-You come from a tradition–rich high school program at Riverside. Why has that school turned out so many quality players?
BC-I really believe the reason there have been so many productive players is because we have been fortunate enough to have great coaches along the way such as Don Miller, Chris Bates and Mark Kish who know the game well and teach their players to play the game the right way. What people don’t see is the time that the players and coaches spend during the winter for the conditioning aspect. Our practices were very organized and they always had a purpose for that particular day. We didn’t just go throw and hit BP, and then call it a day.
DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?
BC-Winning the ACC Championship in Jacksonville in 2006 and later going on to play in the College World Series. The atmosphere in Omaha is surreal.
DP-How did your experience at Clemson help you cope with professional baseball better?
BC-It allowed me to structure my time and be responsible for things that I can handle. It’s tough handling classes and the baseball schedule, but you have to figure out how to do it or you won’t last. I have only gotten my feet wet in pro ball so far, but I get the feeling it’s the same type situation where you will get weeded out real fast if you don’t prepare properly.
DP-Tell us what it was like to play in the College World Series:
BC-Adrenalin pumping all nine innings. Our first game we played Georgia Tech and they threw a lefty who was throwing three pitches for strikes with an occasional splitter. He had us shut out through seven innings, but we got his pitch count up and got into the bullpen. When we got to the pen we put together some runs and got a huge go ahead home run from Andy D’Allesio. That was the biggest homerun that we had all year. The crowd never sleeps in Omaha.
DP-Take us through draft day this June:
BC-We were on our way to a banquet in Mississippi for the Super Regional at Mississippi State and we had just found out that Daniel Moskos was taken with the fourth pick, so everyone was excited for him and congratulating him. Our team had loads of prospects, a handful were supposed to get taken in the first five rounds; so we had plenty of people anticipating calls. I know that my back trouble scared some clubs away, but I knew there were still some people who had me slotted pretty early, so I was anticipating a call, but not getting my hopes up. Stan Widmann had the draft on his telephone and I got a call from the Padres at pick 86 and they were pick 87. I waited until he saw my name pop up and then I told him I was picked up. It all happened so fast, but it was a great moment.
DP-Who are the three toughest pitchers you faced in high school and the three toughest in college?
BC-I remember Derek Vidro from AC Flora before he got hurt was tough because he had so many pitches he threw for strikes and his ball had good movement. The other two were on my team, Marc Young and Brad Hocking. I hated hitting off Marc because of his curve and Hocking had electric stuff. The best arms I faced in college would probably be Daniel Bard from UNC, Chris Perez from Miami and Cory Van Allen from Baylor.
DP-What was your most difficult adjustment (in and out of baseball) after high school?
BC-The fact that people in college locate and mix pitches well. You really can’t miss your pitch when you get it and you can’t expand your zone. I think after high school I felt like I had to have a plan for everything. I am always thinking ahead. I am not the most organized person, but I have learned that you have to have a plan if you want to succeed.
DP-Tell people out there what it feels like to sign a professional contract:
BC-It’s great to say that you’re a professional, especially if someone asks what you do for your occupation.
DP-What is the biggest crowd you’ve ever performed in front of and where?
BC-I know we pack out six thousand plus when we play South Carolina every year, but we had over 16,000 watching our game against UNC in Omaha.
DP-Give us an idea of what a typical gameday is like from the time you get up until the time you go to bed again:
BC-In college I would get up and eat breakfast around 9 or 10, go back and watch some TV until lunch. I would usually roll down to the field after lunch and go hit in the cages before they got crowded. I try and eat something before we stretch as a team and then go hit in the cage again. After infield/outfield I would go inside the clubhouse and eat an orange and just sit next to my locker. I was never really a high energy guy before a game. I just try and get my thoughts together so that I’m not flustered by the time the game comes. In pro ball it’s a little less scheduled because of the travel. I usually try and get some good cage work before BP.
DP-What type of routine do you have when you go to the cage?
BC-I work on hitting to all fields. I always visualize the ball coming out of a hand and getting my load in rhythm. I typically take an even amount from the outer half, middle and inner part of the plate. I always end on going up the middle. If there is a machine, I will get in there and try and let the ball get as deep as possible before I offer so that I will see the ball longer in the game.
DP-Take this opportunity to tell a prospective student-athlete why Clemson is a program they should choose:
BC-The coaching staff, facilities and University facilities in general are top notch. The coaches have their players’ best interests at heart and the atmosphere during a game is second to none. The fans are great, and I still get letters from people all the time. Go to Clemson if you want a challenge and want to be part of a blue collar baseball team while getting a quality education.
DP-What MLB feat in history do you wish you’d been inside the stadium to witness and why?
BC-I wish I would have been able to be in Baltimore when Cal Ripken Jr. broke the consecutive games streak because it shows the toughness and resilience he had. It shows how a great work ethic can pay off.
DP-Did you face any big-time arms that were down on the farm rehabbing?
BC-Yea, I faced a guy named Kerry Wood in my second professional game. He was throwing 95-97 with a hammer.
DP-Who is the biggest character that you have played with?
BC-I think Mitch Canham from Oregon State would be that guy. I have never met a baseball player who is so serious, yet have his own rap CD. It is almost like his alter-ego.
DP-Do you have a good locker room or road trip story you can share with us?
BC-This past season while I was with the Eugene Emeralds I came back from eating in the clubhouse and found my locker boarded shut. When I finally pried the board from my locker, I thought there was a person sitting in my locker, but it turned out to be my jersey stuffed with all my T-shirts, socks and sliders. My pants were also filled with rocks from the warning track. It was a new guy every day up there getting their locker touched up.
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why?
BC-My Mom and Dad brought me up to always work hard and give respect where it’s due.
DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball player and why?
BC-I think all of my coaches that I have had along the way. I picked their brains and took stuff along the way. Guys like Tom Myers, Chris Bates, Don Miller, Mark Kish, Jack Leggett, Tom Riginos, Kevin O’Sullivan and John Rhodes. These were the guys who gave me the opportunity to play the best competition around.
DP-What has been the biggest difference between professional baseball and the college ranks?
BC-The wood bat doesn’t have that sweet spot that it did on a metal bat of course, but I would say the biggest difference is the life on the road in pro ball.
DP-Who is your favorite athlete (non-baseball)?
DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why? BC-Kenny Rogers because he is an intense competitor and Khalil Greene because he has a quiet confidence.
DP-Who is was your favorite MLB team growing up?
DP-Who was your boyhood idol and why?
BC-I always enjoyed watching Lenny Dykstra get after it.
DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball?
DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?
DP-What are some of your hobbies?
BC-Fishing, golf, traveling.
DP-What is something people don’t know about you?
BC-I enjoy classic rock and 80’s music.
DP-Tell us what you are doing during the off-season:
BC-Just working out, going out with friends and relaxing when I get the chance. I am just now starting to get back into my rhythm of swinging and throwing everyday.
DP-What goals do you have for yourself in and out of baseball?
BC-I want to make it to the big leagues one day and stay up there if I ever make it up there. The main goal I have is to always give a hundred percent and never take anything for granted.
DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?
BC-Socrates because he was a great thinker, Ty Cobb to try and understand his intentions and Martin Luther King Jr. because he was a pioneer.
DP-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
BC-Hopefully I’ll be roaming centerfield in the big leagues at Petco Park.
DP-What do you feel Diamond Prospects can provide high school players in the future as compared to what was around when you were a prep athlete?
BC-The exposure to professional and college scouts is off the charts. There was never a major scouting service like it while I was playing.
DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice.
BC-Don’t live with regret, you only live once.
DP-Really good stuff Brad, thanks so much for your time. We wish the best on the road to reaching your goals..