Russell native, Jake Brown, is a former Kansas State product who is entering his second year in the Chicago White Sox Organization.
Brown started 161 career games for the Wildcats as a middle infielder from 2009-2012 and picked up 140 career hits. Brown was drafted in the 30th round (921 overall) of the 2012 MLB baseball draft by the Chicago White Sox.
Last season, as a rookie, he hit .247 in 50 games for the Bristol White Sox in the Rookie Appalachian League.
How did you get involved playing baseball where did it all start?
Around the age of seven we started a traveling team in Russell. Before that I played tee ball and coach pitch, but when we started traveling; that was when I really started to fall in love with the game.
The Chicago White Sox selected you in the 30th round (No. 921 overall) after your four‐year career at KState in 2012. What was it like seeing your name selected by an MLB Team?
It was pretty surreal for me. I had a good feeling that I would be picked up by a team but I wasn’t really sure when or who would give me the chance. I started to get a little discouraged towards the end of the last day of the draft, so I actually stopped watching it. It probably wasn’t a minute after that that my phone started blowing up with text messages, Facebook notifications, and twitter messages with congrats from friends and family. I turned my computer back on right away and finally saw my name and was really just in shock. It’s been such a long journey and to finally get the opportunity to play professionally was just a feeling I can’t even really explain.
What level do you think you will be placed at this year and talk about your first season in the minors last year?
My first year in the minors was an overall good experience. There were a lot of ups and downs, but that’s just the game of baseball. I didn’t play a lot at the beginning of the season but ended up playing around 50 of our 68 games I think. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the season, but fortunately for me I was able to play in a strong conference in the Big 12, with coaches who really prepared me for the next level.
Talk about your experience at Kansas State and how it helped prepare you for minor league baseball?
My overall experience at Kansas State was incredible. I was always surrounded by very knowledgeable coaches who made sure we worked hard day in and day out. I also had great teammates who pushed me to get better everyday. Playing in the Big 12 against some of the best baseball players in the nation didn’t hurt at all either. It seemed as though every weekend we were challenged by very solid arms on the mound and traditionally good baseball clubs as a whole. You definitely couldn’t ever take a team lightly during a conference series.
KSU head coach, Brad Hill, was a very successful coach at Central Missouri, he has continued that at Kansas State. Talk about how it was to play for him?
Coach Hill is definitely one of the best baseball minds I’ve ever been around in my entire life. He knows so much about the game that sometimes things would go way over our heads, especially in our younger years as a part of the team. One of the things he always preached was being a blue‐collar ball club. He made sure we never strayed from our style of baseball. He instilled great values in us not only as athletes but also as young men. Aside from the knowledge of the game our coaches passed on to us, I believe they did a great job making sure that we were good people as well.
What is the average day like in season of a minor league baseball player, is it hectic?
It’s definitely something you have to get used to. It gets to be a grind mainly because we play everyday and have very few days off during the course of a season. In three months of play this last season we had only three days off, so it definitely can wear you down. We had really good trainers and strength and conditioning coaches who made sure we received the treatment and exercise required to help keep us in good shape for the season. The average day consists of getting to the field around one or so for a seven o’clock game. If you felt like it you could go take some early swings in the cage. We would stretch around two thirty and then play catch, take batting practice and pregame infield. After that we would just sit around in the clubhouse and wait until about an hour before game time to head out and get loose. Being at the field so long definitely adds to the grind. I’d say on average we were at the field for around 9 or 10 hours a day. Luckily for us we had great trainers as well as strength and conditioning coaches who made sure we received the proper treatment and exercise to keep us in good health and shape so we could be on the field as much as possible.
Tell the rest of the state, in your words, what its like to grow up in Russell, KS?
I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to go to a bigger school, but I always loved knowing everyone in my school and being around my friends everyday. Most all of my close family lives here as well so that made it nice too. Hunting was always a hobby of mine as well so Russell was an all around great place for me to grow up.
Talk about your high school experiences and playing sports for the Russell Broncos, did you ever think
you would be a professional player in high school?
Growing up I played three sports, as most of my friends, and other kids from small towns did. Baseball was always my favorite, so early on that was the sport I knew I would try to pursue a career in. It was definitely always a dream to play professionally, but the older I got it seemed to become more visual to me how small the chances were to get the opportunity to play professionally. When I was 16 I started playing in Wichita, KS with an academy for summer baseball and fall baseball, so my senior year I decided to just play baseball. I was driving to Wichita two to three times a week just for practice. Wichita was about two and a half hours away, so I didn’t have a lot of spare time. It was a very tough decision for me, but I knew it would be best for my future in baseball and to gain more exposure for college.
Russell is the home of former Senator Bob Dole, do you hear that everywhere you go ??
It seems everywhere I go after I introduce myself and people ask where I’m from there is always
someone who asks that question.
Obviously the MLB is a huge goal of yours and what others don’t realize is how hard it is to get to that
level. How do you stay motivated playing in the minors trying to reach that level?
For me, I always try to tell myself that you never know what can happen. I feel like at this point in my life I’ve overcome quite a few obstacles and coming from such a small community the odds weren’t really in my favor to begin with. I try to stay humble and realize that I’ve been very fortunate to make it this far, but at the same time I remind myself to never be satisfied. It helps to see guys in the show that were low draft picks that weren’t expected to pan out also. Baseball especially is such a tough sport to play because of all the adversity you face inside the game. There is so much failure, which makes it tough to stay positive all the time. Honestly it’s impossible to stay positive all the time.
Any other native Kansans in your organization or that you play against in the minors??
I only know of one, Jeff Soptic, with the White Sox. He’s a pitcher from the Kansas City area I believe. (“@sportsinkansas: Soptic is a former SM East product out of Johnson County CC”)
Best baseball player you have ever faced college and pro?
That’s a tough one. In college there were so many outstanding players we faced that I don’t know if I can actually crown one as the best. I’ve played against some great players professionally as well, but I’m definitely thinking the best players I’ve faced at this point in my career were in college. My senior year, the best pitcher we faced, in my opinion, was definitely Andrew Heaney from Oklahoma State. Professionally I’d say the toughest pitcher I faced was Jon Chargois, who was a closer in the Twins organization from Rice.
What is the off‐season like for you?
Its pretty laidback for the most part. I’ve had more time off now than I ever did in college. I started lifting and running shortly after my season ended. Our coaches want us to stay away from the game for a bit so I waited to start all my baseball training until around December.
Best sports moment and biggest accomplishment in athletics?
Aside from being drafted I’d say my biggest accomplishment in baseball was being named the Big 12 Player of the week.
Biggest accomplishment off the field?
Making the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for four semesters.
Favorite twitter handle?
Cloyd Rivers is definitely up around the top. Also, the Fake Willie Wildcat account at K‐State throws some pretty funny tweets out there.
What do you do in your spare time, when you are not preparing for baseball?
When I’m home I like to spend a lot of time with family and friends, and try to relax. If I’m not doing that it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m in the country hunting whatever is in season.
What is something that the average person does not know about you?
When I was really young my parents were pretty sure I wasn’t going to be involved in any athletic activities. There’s also probably no genre of music that I don’t like. Along with those two things I really enjoy cooking. Not so much cleaning dishes though.
One of my biggest forms of motivation has come in the form of my younger sister, Rhett, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four. Though she is perfectly healthy now at the age of sixteen, her journey has taught me to keep everything in perspective, and that no matter how far baseball takes me nothing is more important than my family. Taking on such adversity at a young age made me realize that someone always has it worse than I do. To me people like her are the true heroes in this world. She is definitely mine.
Numbers on Brown:
Kansas State – via kstatesports.com
|2009||.174||19 – 4||23||3||4||1||0||0||4||5||.217||5||0||11||.321||0||1||1 – 2|
|2010||.248||53 – 41||133||28||33||2||1||1||24||40||.301||13||8||37||.351||0||14||8 – 13|
|2011||.260||60 – 60||192||39||50||6||1||1||20||61||.318||24||7||38||.362||1||9||18 – 20|
|2012||.261||56 – 56||203||31||53||7||0||1||33||63||.310||15||8||33||.332||3||6||16 – 24|
|TOTAL||.254||188 – 161||551||101||140||16||2||3||81||169||.307||57||23||119||.346||4||30||43 – 59|
Pro – via Bristol White Sox