First baseman Brock Stassi has been a top offensive performer all season long for the Double-A Reading Fightins. While helping to keep his team in the Eastern League playoff hunt, the 25-year-old lefty batter has posted a .317 average with seven home runs while leading the league in RBI with 52.
Stassi,the Phillies’ 33rd round draft pick in 2011, entered the 2015 season as a .246 career hitter with 15 homers in four professional seasons.
Recently, I spoke with Stassi about his solid success at the plate this year and plenty more. Read ahead for that interview.
-You’ve had quite a season to date and have really increased your offensive numbers compared to previous seasons. What do you attribute to the improvements you’ve made?
This off-season it all started with breaking down my swing from the ground up. Me and my brother Max, who’s with the Astros, live together and the way last year ended, and the way last year ended made me want to work harder this off-season than I ever had before. And Max was noticing some things online and some videos from guys and we ended up breaking our swings down from the ground up, so it’s basically a new swing that I’m working with. I give a lot of the credit to that, really slowing things down for me, so it’s going well so far.
-Was there someone the Max linked up with for assistance with breaking down the video?
There’s a guy, Bobby Tewksbury is his name and we came across him and he had some different hitting philosophies that nobody has ever really be taught. It’s really some kind of revolutionary stuff that’s starting to catch on. We got in touch with him, sent him some video and he sent us some video back, telling us what we saw and what we should be doing.
Max was- I substitute teach in the off-season and he’d be up till 2, 3 in the morning just online looking at stuff and it was actually Josh Donaldson, Max played with him when he was with Oakland and stuff like that and it was on his Twitter that Max saw him going back and forth with Bobby Tewksbury and Max ended up following him and got in touch with him and talked to Josh about it too and that’s his guy that he goes to with his hitting stuff and so we kind of hopped on board with that.
-Where can people find Bobby Tewksbury?
He’s got a web site, Tewkshitting.com. On Twitter, he’s @TewksHitting.
-So, with the exceptional numbers, I am sure you’ve gotten a bunch more attention this year. What has that been like for you?
It’s cool. In the past I’ve felt like I’ve let things speed up and me and, like I said, with this new swing, it’s kind of slowing things down and keeping things consistent that way, just really, really slowing the game down. But all the attention, we talk a lot about that with our mental skills guy, Dr. Jack Curtis and he talks about when you have success.
-Were there things you were doing previously that stand out as things that needed to change?
Towards the end of the year last year, I got off to a good start the first quarter to half of the season and then fell off and then also the other aspect of that was my diet. I wasn’t eating enough. I wasn’t waking up early enough to have breakfast. I would kind of skip a couple meals and I could go to the yard and feel okay, but really my body was breaking down, getting beat up playing every day. A key aspect was improving my diet. Waking up early enough to have breakfast, have a lunch, have another meal before batting practice, then making sure I was having a big dinner after the game.
-Have the improvements you’ve made led to teammates seeking you out to help them or are you working with anyone to spread the knowledge?
Some guys have come up to me and asked what I’ve thought about certain things. When (the team) came to Cam Perkins about hitting with the leg kick now, they actually had him come to me and talk a little bit about it and just throw a few pointers at him that I thought helped me. It’s been fun to see how well he has made the adjustment. It was a rough week or week and a half, but after that, he’s really picked it up and it’s been fun to watch him hit lately because it’s starting to click for him. There have been other times where guys will come up to me and I’ll try to help them out as much as I can.
-You played on this team last year with a guy who loves helping others, Jake Fox. And not that you’re as old as Foxy, but you’re older than plenty of guys on the team. Do you think you could be a guy your teammates can rely on like him?
Fox led by example. He’s the man. I learned from him so much, just hanging around him in the clubhouse. And not necessarily baseball, but about life in general. He’s just seen it all and he’s just- I wouldn’t say I’m the Jake Fox of the team, he’s one of a kind. But it’s been cool. I have guys ask, ‘What is this place like?’ or ‘What have you seen this guy do to you in the past?’ Nothing too crazy.
-If you had the chance to give advice to teenagers that hope to play ball in either college or the pro’s, what insight would you share with them?
I would just say, always stay positive. That was a big thing early in my career, whenever something negative would happen, I would be really hard on myself and would get down on myself. Turning a negative into a positive, finding the positive in the negative, is what Dr. Jack Curtis talks about and that’s really helped me. Also, just don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something because I try to use that as my motivation- people who have doubted me. I wasn’t recruited out of high school until late in my senior year and then the draft didn’t work my junior year as a position player and my senior year I was a late pick. So, I’ve always had to play with a chip on my shoulder. Just being a late rounder, late bloomer, what ever you want to call it, just coming with that attitude and mentality everyday has been big for me.
-You mentioned Dr. Curtis twice so far. What’s his tie to the team? How often is he around and how do you go about getting lessons or help from him?
He’s employed by the Phillies and he’s down in spring training for two weeks. And so, you just say, ‘Hey, Jack. What time works this morning?’ and you can set up a time to go over some stuff. And throughout the season, he’s kind of like a rover. Like our catching coordinator, our pitching coordinator. He roves around the clubs and he has certain guys that maybe Joe Jordan or Ruben Amaro want him to check up on and anybody else. If I saw him today, I could say, ‘Hey, Jack- you got a minute?’ and we’d go in a room and hash things out.