*KSR: What is your life like now? Is it like what we see in the movies? Riding buses and playing ball? A.J.: You play, eat and sleep. Every now and then we'll get a day off, and I went to visit L.A. and San Diego because I've never been out this way very much. And yeah, you're on the bus a lot. Lucky for us our longest trip is only five hours away. There's some leagues where you'll drive 15 hours to go play. But not for us. KSR: You're in 'Advanced' A Ball ... Does that essentially mean you're smarter than all the other A ball players? That this is the advanced class? A.J. (laughs): No. It just means we're right under Double-A. KSR: You're with a pretty good organization - the Houston Astros - right now ... A.J.: Yes. All of our minor league teams are either in first place or just a couple games out. It's nice to see the big league club doing so well. KSR: And how are you playing right now? No pitching anymore. They've got you slugging and playing first base ... A.J.: I've been doing pretty well this month, hitting well, just trying to get home runs and RBIs. Defensively, I'm trying to get better at first base. When I was drafted, the Astros said they wanted me at first - no pitching. It took a little while to get used to last season, but now I'm just focused on hitting better and getting better at first, working on my range. KSR: Is there an advantage coming into pro ball after being a pitcher? A.J.: Yeah there could be. I understand how difficult it is. But there's also a possible disadvantage - I don't want to start guessing what I would do as a pitcher. I just need to think like a hitter. KSR: We've heard from basketball guys at UK who say the game changes when it becomes a job. True? A.J.: You're playing everyday. Your diet changes. You prepare for 140 games as compared to 55 in college. You have to be ready to play everyday. I try to do whatever I can to make sure I'm ready for games. KSR: You were a junior when you left UK. Do you wish you could've played your senior year? A.J.: It was the right time for me to go. I did miss the guys on the team and I missed college baseball. But it was time for me, in my career, to go. KSR: After sweeping all the player of the year awards, what else could you do? A.J. (laughs): No one really had that in their heads at the beginning of the year. KSR: You're an Indiana guy. Do you still hear from the Indiana folks about going to UK? A.J.: All the time when I go home. Even this year, when (the basketball Wildcats) lost in the Final Four to Wisconsin, the Indiana people talk to me about it. They never stop. KSR: What are your goals and what are the goals the organization has for you? A.J.: They don't say much. But we want to be in the big leagues by the end of next season. I have to work at it, and I'm not sure what the normal timeline is, but that's what we're thinking. I have to keep hitting, keep hitting home runs, keep getting better at first base. And every day, just have fun. KSR: What do you want to say to your Big Blue fans back home? A.J.: Just thanks for the support. I'm glad we got to share the success we did. Maybe we'll get to see some fans in Triple A someday when we can travel to Louisville. It's an important and fun time in my life, and I just want to keep playing my best to make everybody there and back home proud. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQN5Pntpy_k
*Do you have a great memory of watching a former UK athlete as a pro? I'll always remember watching Tay win a title in Detroit and Rondo win a title in Boston - and I love seeing JB Holmes win on the PGA Tour. Leave your stories or pics below and let us know. Or email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter: @rhinoKSR or my website: ForRyanOutLoud.com and maybe I'll share them.