Last week, I spoke with outfield prospect Cornelius Randolph, who prefers the nickname “C”, and wrote a feature for the Shore Sports Network on last year’s top Phillies draft pick working through some struggles at the plate to open the season. Below are some excerpts from that interview.
-What are your thoughts on South Atlantic League competition thus far?
It’s pretty good. Yeah, I mean right now I’m not swinging the bat the best, but it’ll come around and I’m trying to take it day by day.
-What have you learned about the fans here in Lakewood, the facility, the park? Do guys that have been here before like Jiandido Tromp or Shane Watson help out and share some things with you to get you ready?
I heard the fans– this place packs out pretty much all the time. I’ve also heard– well, I’ve seen that the field plays pretty big. Tromp has been talking to me about how to play the ball off the wall and how the ball kicks. Like that break up there (points toward center field) if somebody hits the ball up there, how it’s going to kick. Just little things that’s going to help me out.
-You’ve got a couple good coaches in Shawn Williams and Nelson Prada, both guys were here last year. What advice have you gotten from your coaches thus far?
They’re just talking me through things. Making sure I’m not trying to do too much, not trying too hard. Just keeping me into my game.
-When you come out to a new city to start a season, how do you explore? Do you hit up a guy that’s been there before as a guide, or do you head out on your own?
Where ever the guys want to go, we just explore and see something new. I hang with some of the older guys, we just go out and eat and stuff like that and sight see. I have my car here, so I get to go places and see what I can see.
-What were your impressions of New Jersey before coming here? What do you know about it?
Um, the first thing for me was I wanted to hear the accents. Actually, my first day here I got an Uber driver and he was from Brooklyn and he had the heaviest accent I’ve ever heard (laughs). It was just pretty cool just to hear it. My friend, Nick Fanti, he’s with the extended (spring training) club right now, he’s from New York, so I heard it in his voice, but this guy was heavier because he’s been there his whole life. So, it was pretty much a sight to see. And the other thing was the weather. I knew how cold it was going to be. That’s pretty much it.
-Your home state is Georgia. Have you played up north much, because this April weather can be very cold?
I haven’t. I mean it’s not fun, but it’s not that bad. The first couple games we played in Lexington, it was pretty cold, and now we’re here in Lakewood, so we’ll see how the weather goes.
-I recently watched the Phillies’ video yearbook for last year and you’re on that, visiting Citizens Bank Park and meeting some of the veteran players.
(Didn’t know he was featured on that, looking surprised) That’s pretty cool…
-Yeah, you’re on there! So, what was that experience like meeting Ryan Howard and some of the other Phillies players and coaches at batting practice on the field after you signed with the Phils?
It was fun. Ryan Howard’s cool. Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, they were all just happy to greet me, happy to see me. It was a fun experience, just seeing the ballpark. It’s beautiful! Just, it felt great.
-Chase and Cole were Phillies 1st round picks, like you. Did those guys, or anyone else, give you advice, or was it all more like you said, just them greeting and welcoming you?
Ben Revere, he talked to me a little bit and encouraged me to keep working. Andres Blanco taught me a little bit. Actually, Carlos Ruiz taught me a little bit, just advising me to keep working and playing hard.
-With a high draft spot comes some big money. Was there anything you splurged on after getting your first big paycheck or did it all go in the bank?
It goes in the bank. I don’t know, if my parents want something, I’ll get it, but my parents they just want me to save my money. They want me to make it to the big leagues first before I do anything with my money. So, I’m just mainly keeping my mind on the big goal and that’s making it to the big leagues. Not just splurging my money, not letting money overtake what the actual goal is.