With the fifth-overall pick in the 2005 Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected sweet-swinging Ryan Braun out of the University of Miami. After a solid debut season with the Class A West Virginia Power last summer, Braun has continued his hot hitting into his 2006 campaign with the Class A Brevard County Manatees.
Known for his impressive offensive tools, Braun was a leading Manatee at the 40-game mark with a .306 average, 11 doubles, a triple, six home runs and 12 stolen bases.
MLB.com recently caught up with Braun, who was happy to speak about his game, his dreams of one day calling from the booth and the immense impact Yankees star Alex Rodriguez has had on the way Braun approaches the game on and off the field.
The Brewers drafted you roughly a year ago. Take us back to draft day. What was it like to hear your name called?
It was just an incredible feeling. It was kind of a culmination of everything I've worked for so far in my baseball career. It felt great to be rewarded for all my hard work up to that point. I was with my family, my teammates at the University of Miami, my coaches -- we were all watching the draft on the computer in my coach's office.
From a Hurricane to a Power in 2005, and now in your first full professional season, how has the transition been from college to pro ball?
It's definitely been different, you're playing every day. In college, you fly everywhere. In the Minor Leagues, there's a lot of long bus rides and you stay in cheap motels -- in college, you stay in pretty nice places. A lot more fast food! I think the biggest adjustment is getting used to playing every day, and adjusting to the travel schedule. Trying to eat well is difficult at times.
After 37 games for the Power in 2005, you moved up the organizational ladder with many of the same teammates. How much has the familiarity with your teammates impacted your game on and off the field?
I mean, it definitely contributes. I think that's something that makes it that much more enjoyable. It's great when you have that camaraderie, that team chemistry both on and off the field.
The current Brewers lineup features four former first rounders: Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Geoff Jenkins and Ben Sheets. As a Brewers top pick, has the success of future teammates been a factor in how you approach the game?
It's encouraging. It's great to see those guys having so much success. I just strive to get where they are, but at the same time, obviously my situation is different from theirs. I just need to go out there and work hard every day and, hopefully, get to where they are at, sooner rather than later.
As far as outside predictions go, do they tend to affect your game at all? A recent prediction had you in the Brewers lineup by 2008, only two years away.
I want to get there as soon as possible. I want to make sure that I'm fully prepared and that I'm ready for the time that I do get there. I try not to think too much about those types of things. I just try and work hard every day, learn from what I'm doing here. I know eventually everything will fall into place for me.
As a player, what do you feel are your strengthens? Weaknesses?
Confidence. I have a lot of belief in my ability in all facets of the game. As far as weaknesses go, I would have to say consistency. The biggest thing I've realized is the importance of being consistent -- offensively, defensively, baserunning, your approach to the game, in everything you do -- it's important to be consistent.
Who, out of former and current Major League players, would you say you most emulate your own game after?
I grew up liking Alex Rodriquez a lot. I like the way he carries himself both on and off the field and he obviously has achieved a tremendous amount of success. I think people generally view him as being a good person and that is something I pride myself on as well.
Ranging from tee ball to pro ball, who has been the biggest influence on your career? What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I would say my parents. They constantly remind me to just have fun. You're so fortunate to have the opportunity to play this game professionally, and I think when you get too caught up in having a bad day, frustrated when you're not doing well, you have to just realize the importance of having fun. It's still the same game I've played since I was a little kid. I just out there every day and appreciate the opportunity that I have.
How about your own set of advice to a kid who wants to get drafted, what would you say to them?
Go out there and work hard, do what you have always done. If you just go out there and work as hard as you can, and take pride in your work ethic, then I think people will appreciate your talents and you'll be rewarded for your hard work.
When you hang up the cleats, what would you want fans, teammates and coaches to remember you most for?
Just being a good guy who played the game the right way. I just want to go out there, work hard every day, have people appreciate the fact that I played the game the right way and worked hard every day.
How about your career after the game?
I don't know. I mean, I love sports, so maybe broadcasting, some type of communication involving sports, maybe something on ESPN. I don't really know, but hopefully that's a long ways away and I don't have to think too much about it.
With the season under way, what do you hope to accomplish in 2006?
My goal is just to work hard every day and to continue to improve, help my team win as many games as possible, in as many ways as possible.
Emily A. Hanover is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.