Former Kentucky Wildcat baseball player J.T. Riddle took some time on Wednesday to speak with Wildcat Blue Nation.
Daniel Solzman: J.T., thanks for joining Wildcat Blue Nation today. How are things treating you in Batavia?
J.T. Riddle: So good so far. I finally got settled in up here with a host family and everything. I’m just trying to learn the ropes and everything of a new organization, being the new guy and everything. Other than that, baseball-wise, everything is going good. I finally got to start playing again a couple days ago. It’s so great to be back on the field.
Daniel Solzman: When did you know that the Miami Marlins were interested in drafting you?
J.T. Riddle: I got a text on that Saturday morning, that last day of the draft. I really hadn’t heard anything from the Marlins on the first two days and then they kind of dropped me a text and then I got a phone call saying they were interested. They asked me what my number was and before you know it, they were picking me in the 13th round.
Daniel Solzman: You were assigned to the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League. How does the Batavia area differ that of Lexington?
J.T. Riddle: Actually, it’s about the same. Of course, it’s New York and people are a little different up here. The area is a little kind of a country town. It’s not bad up here. The weather is pretty nice. It’s not too hot. It’s just about right for baseball.
Daniel Solzman: How honored were you to have been named Mr. Baseball coming out of high school?
J.T. Riddle: It was a big honor. I was in with a very good class of guys there. Kentucky had Corey down in Louisville and Trevor up in Lexington. I think we all three split the three big awards out in Kentucky and we all end up going to the University of Kentucky there and had 3 great years up there. Now, we’re all in pro ball and looking forward of trying to reach our dreams of playing in the big leagues one day. It was a big honor winning the Kentucky Mr. Baseball award.
Daniel Solzman: How has UK Baseball coach Gary Henderson prepared you for the next level?
J.T. Riddle: He’s been a big help. He’s taught us ever since day one when I was a freshman. He taught us how to carry ourselves right, how to be winners and how to play the game right. It’s helped me a lot the past 3 years at UK. I know I definitely thought that when I went out of high school, I was in a whole new world not knowing what to do and every thing. Just going and playing for him, knowing he’s been in the game for a long time, just teach us how to do it the right way. It was a big help before I made the step to pro ball.
Daniel Solzman: The Miami Marlins A affiliate, Greensboro, plays a few games each season in Lexington. I know your professional career is just getting under way but are you looking forward to the idea of returning to Lexington for a ballgame within the next few seasons?
J.T. Riddle: Oh yeah. I’ve definitely looked at that and that would be fun for sure. I’ve just got to play one game at a time. I’m just getting to that next level. Once I get to Greensboro, I figure it’s a fun place to play and of course, it’s low A ball and I’d like to be higher that that but it will be fun once I get to that level and come back to Lexington to play some games.
Daniel Solzman: Who was your favorite player growing up?
J.T. Riddle: I’ve always been a Chipper Jones fan. I’ve liked him ever since day 1 ever since I started watching baseball. I’ve always been a fan. I wore number 10 and (inaudible) a lefty swing. Of course, he’s a switch hitter and I tried that but it didn’t work out for me.
Daniel Solzman: How awesome does it feel to have a Columbus Day birthday?
J.T. Riddle: It is pretty awesome. I never really thought about it that much. Of course, I actually have a lot of family members that have the same birthday: me, my dad, my aunt, and my cousin. It’s kind of convenient when you get the family around. It’s pretty sweet.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining Wildcat Blue Nation. Any final words for Big Blue Nation?
J.T. Riddle: I think we’re good. It should be a good team next year.