Jason Coats has emerged as a potential breakout prospect this season.
The TCU graduate is off to a strong pro debut with the Kannapolis Intimidators. Coats was once regarded as a potential early draft pick, but his best college season was his sophomore year and he tore his ACL during the last regular season game for the Horned Frogs last season.
The White Sox took advantage of Coats’ damaged stock by taking him in the 29th round of the 2012 draft and let him rehab during the summer and through the winter. Now the 23-year-old outfielder is back in action and is leading the Intimidators in batting average at .345.
I talked to him on Tuesday to see how he’s adjusting to pro ball and handling the transition while just getting back from a major injury.
How do you feel the season has been going for you?
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but then I got a little bit of confidence and my swing is feeling good right now. The coaches are good here and my teammates are great so it’s easy to play here.”
On the adjustment to pro ball:
“It’s been fun just getting to play every single day and just having to worry about baseball non-stop is kind of nice. Not having to worry about school anymore. I got that out of the way. Just getting to show up everyday is fun.”
The draft process:
“The last regular season game of my senior year at TCU I tore my ACL so I was kind of bummed out. Then in the draft Chicago picked me up late. I was just thankful and glad that somebody was going to give me the opportunity to keep playing.”
“It definitely stunk a little bit. We had a pretty good team and even though I went down the team still got to go to the Super Regionals against UCLA so we still had a really good season. I was bummed out that I had to sit out the postseason and didn’t get to play my last year, but then again I had a good run at TCU and I wouldn’t trade it for everything.
“It’s a little sore some days, but once I get moving out there it’s just like my other knee so it’s good to go.
“I feel good. I was out for nine months before spring training came around so I spent all that time in the offseason rehabbing. I felt in good shape and came ready to play when spring training rolled around.”
On the layoff:
“It was tough. That was probably the longest I’ve taken off from baseball since I was nine years old probably so not playing the game in nine months is kind of hard. I’m glad I’m back out here playing again.”
Are White Sox coaches working on anything specific with you?
“Not really. They just treated me like a normal player out there. They just said go out and show what you can do. It was nice. I learned some stuff along the way.”
Minor League grind:
“Some people say it’s going to hit me sooner or later, but like I said I haven’t played in nine months so I’m loving it right now getting to play baseball again. Right now I’m feeling good and hopefully it can last through the season.”
Any road trip horror stories?
“No not yet. We just had a long one. The only bad part is I’m the new guy so I gotta double up on the bus. That’s about as bad as it gets, but that’s probably the worst road trip moment so far.”
“I just want to stay healthy and put up a good season and see where it goes from there.”