Interview with Cardinal 2000 First Round Draft Pick,
A Birdhouse Exclusive By Brian Walton
Shaun Boyd was selected by the Redbirds in the first round of the 2000 draft, 13th overall. The 5'-10", 175 pound right-hander was born in Corona, California and grew up in Oceanside, along the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. Though Boyd was a shortstop in high school, the Cardinals immediately moved him to the outfield for his rookie season with Johnson City in the Appalachian League. Then, in the instructional league that fall, Boyd was moved to second base.
After struggling with his defense, midway through this season, Boyd was shifted again to centerfield and excelled. He stole 30 bases or more for the second year in a row and was named as a member of the 2003 Florida State League All-Star team at Palm Beach before joining Tennessee (AA) for the final month of the season.
In 2003, Baseball America tabbed the 22 year-old as the Cardinals #6 prospect. Boyd was viewed by scouts as a No. 2 hitter, or perhaps a No. 3 if his power were to develop. As a second baseman, he was called by some a premium prospect, but has more competition in the outfield, where it looks like he will remain.
Boyd was selected as part of the 2003 Cardinal Arizona Fall League contingent, playing for the Grand Canyon Rafters. His primary AFL focus was to continue to work on his outfield defensive skills, as his offense has never been questioned. This fall, Boyd had only one error in 25 games, and in the two I witnessed, seemed to get a good jump on the ball and made the right throws, strong and accurate. During the AFL season, Boyd was up and down offensively. His average sat at .111 after the first week. It later rose into the .260s before dropping back to its final .219. Boyd drove in and scored 12 runs, took 13 walks, but fanned 20 times in 96 at-bats.
Shaun Boyd joined me for an interview during the Arizona Fall League earlier this month.
BW: Does being a former #1 pick put any additional pressure on you?
SB: At first, when I got drafted, everyone was telling me that they'd try to put extra pressure on me. Maybe the first year. But, as I come out here, once I see everyone here, it's pretty much fair game. Whoever performs is going to make it. So, not really.
BW: At Palm Beach this season, you moved from second base to the outfield. You played there before, right?
SB: My first year in pro ball I played centerfield in Johnson City; then I moved to second base for a couple of years. And now, I am back in the outfield. Whatever I can do to get into the lineup.
BW: You've played left and centerfield here in Arizona. Which position do you like better and why?
SB: I actually like center better, but like I said before, as long as I am in there, I am happy.
BW: Does learning a new position defensively affect your offense in any way?
SB: I have been able to usually separate the two. But toward the beginning of this year, when I was struggling at second, it might have affected me a little bit at the plate. Now I feel relaxed out there. I'm having fun.
BW: You were a member of the 2003 Florida State League All-Star team. What did that mean to you?
SB: It's always great to be recognized amongst all the great players we play against. It's an honor and fun to be there. Even though I didn't get to play, it was an honor.
BW: You had 32 steals in 2002, another 30 this season but haven't attempted any here in Arizona. Is that something you're not focusing on here?
SB: Actually, our team here, as a whole, does not do a lot of running. We've just been letting guys hit a lot. Yes, before it's over, I'd like to get a few. I'd actually like to run a little bit more than I have.
(Note: Less than one hour after this interview, in his first at-bat of the day, Boyd singled and promptly stole second base. He soon scored the first run of the day when the next batter doubled him home.)
BW: When did you find out you were coming down here and who told you?
SB: I found out mid to late season, right after the All-Star break. My manager down at Palm Springs, Tom Nieto, told me.
BW: You lead the team with two triples. How important is speed to your game?
SB: I think speed is great in anybody's game, just being able to stretch a double into a triple, or steal a bag here and there when you need to. It always helps on defense to be a little quicker. I want to try to get faster in the off-season.
BW: You've shown good plate discipline, with ten walks here in Arizona. But you also have 10 RBI and 15 Ks. In your hitting approach, how you balance being selective with swinging away?
SB: That's the weird thing. I don't know if was the two weeks off when I first got down here or what, but my first couple of games I struck out something like seven times in my first three games just trying to get back into it. I am usually not a real high strikeout total guy. They just seem to come in bunches. I'll either walk in bunches or strike out in bunches.
BW: You missed a few games here in Arizona recently. Were you injured?
SB: Actually, I got real sick. There was a bug going around towards the beginning. Then I had tendonitis or something wrong with my wrist that was kind of pinching me when I would swing, so they gave me a few days off. But, other than that, I've been fine. Nothing long-term at all.
BW: You had a broken jaw a few years ago. What happened there?
SB: Actually, I had a broken nose and cheekbone. I was hitting and I got hit in the face. I didn't get out of the way. It was kind of a bad situation. I put it behind me. I've had some close calls again, but you can't really think about giving in to these guys. You can't let them try to intimidate you.
BW: Who did you emulate when you were growing up?
SB: I probably followed Tony Gwynn a lot, just because I'm from San Diego. As a kid, I probably went through everybody's swing.
BW: You ended the 2003 season with Tennessee. Ideally, where would you hope to start the 2004 season?
SB: If everything went my way, I'd start in AAA. But, I think I'd have to perform a little better here to get me a better shot of making the AAA team. I've only had 80-something at-bats in AA, so if I start back there, that is no problem. I just have to perform and I will be out of there, hopefully.
BW: Last question. If everything goes your way, when will we see you in St. Louis?
SB: Oh, geez. Hopefully, next year. In September, I'll try to get a call-up or something.
BW: We're all pulling for you.
SB: OK. Thank you.