Interview With Orioles Prospect Steve Bumbry
When most people hear the name Bumbry associated with the Baltimore Orioles, they assume you are talking about former Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry who played for the club from 1972-84. What many people don’t know is that the baseball gene in the Bumbry family was passed on to Al’s son, Steve, who is currently an outfield prospect in the Orioles farm system.
At 24, Steve Bumbry has been pushing his way through the lower ranks of the Orioles system over the last three years, eventually earning a starting role with the AA Bowie Baysox last season. After injuring his hamate (bone in the wrist) last summer and having surgery on it in September of 2011, Steve rehabbed his injury all offseason and expected to come into camp ready to go for the 2012 campaign. After feeling pain when swinging once he arrived at Spring Training, Steve had a cortisone shot and continued treatments to relieve the pain and is now back to a hitting program where he will eventually get some live at bats in extended Spring Training then make it up to Maryland to play soon enough.
I got a chance to ask Steve about his baseball past and expectations for the future, as well as many other baseball related topics recently:
Avi Miller: How has your game transitioned between playing D1 ball at Virginia Tech and now in the Orioles farm system?
Steve Bumbry: The biggest difference between college baseball and professional baseball is the bat. Transitioning from using the metal bats in college to using wood takes time. Also the speed of the game picks up each level you progress, I’ve had to learn how to slow the game down as the game tries to speed up, both on the defensive side of the ball and in the batter’s box, I’m focusing on controlling the game instead of letting the game control me.
AM: Looking at your VT page, it looks like you had to compete for a spot there because of depth, and they cite your offense as the reason you may have gotten less ABs. A career .253 hitter through all levels of A-ball, what do you think you need to improve on at the plate to get more recognition as a hitter?
SB: Consistency, consistency, consistency. As I get more experience through ABs and mature as a baseball player every part of my game will develop. I know that the Orioles believe that I can help the big league club, otherwise they wouldn’t have drafted and invested in me, I just need to trust myself and let my abilities take over to allow myself to get the best results which will help the team and at the same time help those numbers continue to improve.
AM: Coming out of high school/college, what were your expectations for the MLB draft? Did you go into it with expectations of going higher or lower than the 12th round where you did go? Were you being scouted and talked to by any other teams other than the Orioles?
SB: When I was in high school I really didn’t know much about the draft, I kind of had the feeling that I was still a little young and I really didn’t picture myself making the jump to pro ball. I wanted to go to college and I knew that would give me a chance to grow and mature. During my junior year, after having contact with several organizations, the Brewers, Angels, Indians, and the Orioles we pretty much heard that I was expected to go somewhere between the 8th and 12th rounds so I had a pretty good idea of where I was going to go and what to expect on draft day.
AM: You had 12 home runs last year between Delmarva and Frederick (11 with the Keys). Is power an aspect that you are more recently trying to add to your game or have you always strived to get that slugging percentage up?
SB: I have to give credit to my trainers Fischer Sports in Phoenix that have really helped me get stronger the last two years for a surge in those home run numbers from my year in Delmarva in 2010. But also as I get more experience I have continued to develop in the mental game and that is also part of it, learning the pitch sequences and looking for patterns of how I’m being pitched all contribute to an increase in my slugging percentage. Not to be forgotten is my on base percentage which took a huge leap. Last year in Frederick I was placed in the leadoff role and I had to learn to be more selective and get on base for the guys behind me to do their job and get those RBIs. I think that having the ability to get on base and score runs is what is going to help the team win so I would like to focus on that for right now. But if I continue to hit home runs while still having a good OBP that will be okay with me too.
AM: Which outfield spot are you most comfortable in? As much as guys say they will play what the team needs, do you have a spot that you prefer? How about a preferred spot to hit in the lineup?
SB: If you ask anyone who knows baseball that question they will say center field because it’s easier to see the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand and goes into the hitting zone, and this is true. I enjoy playing center because I played there my whole childhood, but in college and now in pro ball I’ve learned to play both corner positions as well. To me it doesn’t really make too big of a difference, as long as I’m on the field I’m happy. As far as the line up goes, last year was my first year hitting mostly in the leadoff position and it definitely grew on me. I learned a lot about the role of being a leadoff hitter and I really enjoyed setting the table for guys like Manny [Machado] and [Jonathan] Schoop. I hit in the 2 hole most of my college career, I enjoy that spot also, each slot in the line up has a different role and I don’t think I have settled into one set spot just yet, like being in the field, I enjoy being anywhere in the lineup and it is fun learning different roles and trying to play the game to be productive out of those positions.
AM: With your dad having the history behind him of being rookie of the year, getting an All Star selection, winning a World Series with the Orioles, and more, do you feel pressure that you have to fill the shoes as the next “Bumbry” to make it big? Do you put pressure on yourself to live up to that name or try to stay yourself? In the same manner, how is your relationship with your dad in terms of baseball? Does he help you with your game? Does he have certain expectations for you or is he laid back and just wants the best for you?
SB: I get that question a lot, and I have learned to embrace the “challenge” that comes with playing for the Orioles and having the last name Bumbry. The game itself puts enough pressure on you for success so there is no reason for me to add to it by trying to “fill shoes”, the work I put in on and off the field is for me and for me only, it does no good to anyone else and I will get out of it what I put in. Whatever results come from that will create who I am, I can’t be my father, I can only be myself so I am just trying to be me and create a new legacy for MY name. My father has been and always be my biggest supporter, and my best teacher. We talk every day mostly about life and a little about baseball as necessary. He knows what it takes and what it’s like playing this game as a career so there’s not many things that we discuss that he hasn’t already been through or learned from but we still continue to share the experience that I’m having as I grow and develop my game. I think the foundation of good family is happiness, at the end of the day he will always be my father and he will always want the best for me and for me to do what makes me happy.
AM: Bowie is giving out an Al Bumbry bobblehead this year; when will we be seeing a Steve Bumbry promotional giveaway?
SB: Haha, who knows, I don’t get to make the promotion schedules but it would definitely be neat to have a bobble head of myself next to my dad’s on the same shelf one day in the near future. I know you’re a big bobblehead collector so I’m sure you’ll be on top of that as soon as its available.
Thanks for the opportunity to share with the fans. I wish the best to you and to the team at Baltimore Sports Report.
Thank you again to Steve for his taking his time to talk with me about this upcoming season. We look forward to checking back in with you as the year progresses.
Follow Avi Miller on Twitter @AviMillerBSR for up to the date Orioles news and farm system updates.