Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Tyler White (Interview)


Houston Astros First Base Prospect Tyler White Interviews With Talking Stros

There is a buzz around the Houston Astros as spring training approaches. Following a season in which the Astros reached the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Astros are ready to make the next step to possibly becoming the nineties Braves. One of their weak links in 2015 was production at first base. While the Astros have not added anyone from outside the organization, they have several player who could help fill the gap. They are Jon Singleton, Tyler White, and the eventual starter A.J. Reed.

Part of a new radio show I do with KTXF-DB The Reel called Talking Stros is interview Astros players and prospects. We have had several people on including Billy Wagner, Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker, and many more including Evan Drellich. Here is a link to all the past Talking Stros. This past week we had White join the show, we asked him some questions from his draft to his future with the Astros.

Below is his interview, both in the audio podcast and in written form. For the better experience, I didn’t include everything in this post, listen to the interview and then listen to what Drellich had to say as well.

CTH/TexSR: How long have you been done with winter ball?

White: December 22, so I have been done for about two weeks now, maybe a little longer.

CTH/TexSR: You taking it easy and recovering, you played a lot of baseball last year?

White: I did play a lot of baseball, I took the first week off, but now I’m trying to get the body back in shape for spring training of this upcoming season.

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CTH/TexSR: Before you went to winter ball, there was some talk about you playing catcher. What happened with that?

White: I went to an instructional league for about a week and a half, ten days or maybe longer, I caught and did some drills, worked out in Kissimmee. I did pretty well at it, but I think for right now, we are going to hold off and stick to the corners for now. I did some stuff in the Dominican, but mostly just catching at the end of the game. It’s something I think I can do, but we are going to hold off right now.

CTH/TexSR: What round were you drafted in?

White: I was drafted in the 33rd round.

CTH/TexSR: I heard you signed for $1,000, what did you do with that money?

White: I got an upgrade on my cell phone, and I got a pair of running shoes, that’s about it.

CTH/TexSR: Congrats on an outstanding 2015 season, Triple-A National Champion and Dominican League MVP, congratulations.

White: Yeah, it was a great 2015, like you said, winning the championship, it can’t get any better than that, very blessed to play on some really good teams in 2015 with Corpus and the same in Triple-A with the Grizzlies. Yeah, we won it all, it was awesome.

CTH/TexSR: What was that one moment from the past year that you will remember?

White: Probably winning the PCL Championship, every year winning the Championship is awesome. It was also fun winning the National Championship game in El Paso, but I think winning the PCL Championship was better. It’s what you work for all year, that gets you the ring, it was great.

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CTH/TexSR: You didn’t take any time off, you went down to play in the Dominican league, how is your Spanish now?

White: It’s not great, I understand a little, but I had a great time down there. My Spanish is not too good.

CTH/TexSR: I know you got to play with one major league player in Miguel Sano, how was spending time with that kid?

White: He’s a good guy, he’s a great player with tons of talent. He’s an incredible kid with lots of power, just a really good guy to play with, had a real good time playing winter ball down there.

CTH/TexSR: You went to Western Carolina University, I know he’s a little older, but have you met Greg Holland who went there? Do you get a chance to talk about baseball with him?

White: I have spoken with him about baseball once, he spoke at a Banquet in 2014, I got a chance to talk to him that day. After he had spoken at the banquet, I was able to sit down with him and pick his brain a little. The next morning, we both worked a camp in Ashville, North Carolina, I spoke to him for a while there, talked to him about the offseason and how it was playing in the big leagues, really good guy and easy to talk to. He’s definitely the biggest star out of Western Carolina right now.

CTH/TexSR: He’s about to be the second best with the year you are about to have. When you do, get the call, who will be the first person you tell?

White: Definitely my parents, probably my mom, because she likes to answer the phone. She will answer, but they will both be together.

CTH/TexSR: You are an Anti-Astro right now, you walked 84 times and struck out 73, that’s really impressive, what has led to your plate discipline?

White: I have always been a good hand-eye type of guy, always have been able to put the ball in play every since I was young, that was my main focus. It became an issue because I would swing too early in the count because I can put the ball in play, I wasn’t hitting for much power. I have tried to find a happy median of attempting to look for the pitch up in the zone which has led to a little more success with power with doubles. I still try not to swing at pitches outside the zone, I work on that all the time, I take really great pride in hitting the good pitches and taking the bad ones. That is one thing that I can say is the better part of my game, I constantly try to work on every aspect of my game, but that is one thing I take pride in is to make good contact.

CTH/TexSR: Are you looking forward to spring training and is this your first spring training?

White: Yes, I definitely can’t wait for it, I am excited, I just got the information about spring training, and I have looked it over.

CTH/TexSR: How close are you and Singleton, appears that you will compete with him for 1st base job.

White: He’s a really good guy, he has a lot of power, we are good friends, everyone on the Fresno team was close. Yeah, it’s competition, but it will be great fun. I don’t want to see him fail, I just want to do the best that I possibly can, I never wish failure upon anybody, it’s about doing what’s best for me to get a spot on the team.

CTH/TexSR: Recently on a Baseball America podcast they listed Kevin Millar as your comp. What do you think about that?

White: I’ve heard that before, I have heard other names before as well. I’m not super familiar with Kevin Millar, so I don’t know what type of player he is. I have also heard the name Kevin Youkilis before, being compared to guys who have played in the major leagues is great.

CTH/TexSR: I guess the real question is, do you have Millar’s humor?

White: I like to think that I am not not funny, I’m not the funniest person in the world, but I have a good sense of humor.

CTH/TexSR: How’s your dancing, have you been working on your moves for Club Astros?

White: I haven’t been working on too much, but the big one right now is Cam Newton’s dab in the end zone right now, so I might try to work on that.

White photo credit to Rich Guill (@QCBanditPhotog)
White photo credit to Rich Guill (@QCBanditPhotog) /

CTH/TexSR: Did you go to winter ball volunteerly or did the Astros ask you to?

White: Little bit of both, they said it would be fine for me to go down there and work on some stuff, I did that and had fun. I had fun the first year I went, they asked if I wanted to play in the Panamanian Winter League last season, this season I played in the Dominican League. I’m glad that I went because I learned a lot.

CTH/TexSR: Was there anything specifically that you wanted to work on in winter ball to keep your touch at the plate?

White: Just to get more defensive work in, the pitching down there is really good, so it was good to go down there and see the top velocity that I saw on a daily basis and get to see some of those veteran arms that have pitched in the big leagues. You get to see those 95 and 98 MPH fastballs, unlike some of the guys we face in the minor leagues. I definitely think that it bettered my game.

CTH/TexSR: Who were some of those guys you faced with MLB experience?

White: I know I face Rafael Soriano, the closer. Trying to think of some other names, I’m not that good with names of the pitchers I have faced, but I do know that he was the biggest guy that I faced. Some of the guys on the team would know who the pitcher is, but I didn’t really keep track. Getting to see some pitches that yu are not used to seeing in the minor leagues.

CTH/TexSR: The knock against you is that you have a ‘bad body.’ But BA now says you have fixed that thru hard work. How did you do that?

White: The last offseason, before I went to play in Panama, I lost around 30 pounds. That helped out a lot, I have kept that off, I was able to get a little bit stronger throughout this year. This offseason I have been really working on strength, lower body strength and core strength. I’m never going to be a burner who steals a lot of bases, but I definitely got better about the bad body thing. I don’t look like a super model or anything, but I have definitely made improvements, and I plan on continuing to make improvements.

CTH/TexSR: I’m looking for Tyler White taking down Evan Gattis‘ triples record this year.

White: You never know, I think I led the Panamanian league with two triples last year.

CTH/TexSR: Did you pick up any Latin nicknames like El Oso Blanco?

White: No, a couple of guys called me the ‘Ninja Blanco,’ or ‘White Ninja,’ whatever that meant.

CTH/TexSR: Did you have a favorite MLB team that you followed when you were growing up?

White: I was a huge Chipper Jones fan growing up, so I would have to say the Braves. I have a Jones jersey and a whole lot of Chipper Jones memorabilia.I wasn’t really a Braves fan, but I was a live-and-die Braves fan when I was little, but when I was in college, I started not to watch baseball as much, but I tried to keep up with Chipper.

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CTH/TexSR: Triple-A is supposed to be harder than Double-A, how do you explain your offensive explosion in Triple-A last season?

White: I got up to Triple-A, I was hitting well in Double-A when I was called up, I think I just found myself in a groove, and I felt good. Every day I went to the park, I got into a good routine, the hitting coach really helped me out. I got into a groove, when I had a few games that I struggled in a row, I never really got down on myself. Even when I was fouling balls back that I normally get hits off of, I would not get down and work harder.

CTH/TexSR: Do you hit the ball to left field a lot, you know we have the Crawford Boxes out there?

White: Most of my home runs are to left field, I would say I hit the ball more that direction than anywhere else. I can use the whole field as well; I like to pull it.

CTH/TexSR: Was there a moment when it clicked for you that you could be good enough to play in the Major Leagues?

White: I always have been, even when I was younger, I was a 33rd rounder, and I was a walk-on in college, even with that, I had faith in myself. I think that is what has helped me, I wouldn’t say that I was an arrogant person, but I have a lot of confidence in my hitting ability. I think that has helped me a lot, I always knew that I could hit at that level. I don;t think there was a time that it clicked, I thought I had a chance.

Next: Houston Astros: CTH’s Top-25 Astros All-Time Hitters

Thanks to Tyler White for taking the time to do this interview. You can follow him at @twhite409 as he battles to make the big league roster this spring. Good luck Tyler, and we hope that we see you in New York come opening day.