Written by Mark Nikolov Photo by Gordon Donovan
Kevin Cornelius was drafted by the Yankees in the 31st Round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Since then he’s worked his way up the ranks in their very large and competitive organization (Yankees have the biggest farm system of all MLB teams). Recently, he was picked up in the rule 5 Draft by the Iowa Cubs. I got a chance to talk to him about it just yesterday. This is how it went:
Real McCoy: What has been your experience been like, thus far, playing in the Yankees farm system?
Cornelius: “It’s been awesome. I’ve had some ups and downs, dealing with some injuries in the past but the Yankees stuck with me and they’ve been very supportive and understanding. The way I look at it, the Yankees gave me an opportunity. They kept giving me opportunities and I’m still playing baseball because of it.”
Real McCoy: Last season in Tampa you played with a lot of highly touted prospects i.e. Gleyber Torres, James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo, etc. Do you think that being surrounded by high level guys has made you a better player?
Cornelius: “Absolutely (he emphasized)…even though injuries have been something that have plagued me in the past, I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn from some highly talented players that were also rehabbing at the same time. One of em was Greg Bird. I was able to learn a lot from him. I like to find out what makes players better, what makes them great.”
Real McCoy: What was your initial reaction when you found out that you had been picked up by the Iowa Cubs?
Cornelius: “I was surprised. I didn’t know about the rule 5 Draft…other people knew before me and they started sending me text messages telling me that I’d been traded. At the moment, I’m excited. I’m looking at it as a new start, a fresh beginning.”
Real McCoy: I could imagine it would be tough to leave the Yankees organization but the Cubs aren’t a bad team to land with.
Cornelius: “Not a bad team to land with at all (he laughs). When I was in Tampa I got a chance to play with some of the guys that came over from the Cubs like Gleyber Torres and Rashad Crawford. So this has been an interesting switch for us.”
Real McCoy: In an MiLB.com article you mentioned about having played at Grayson College. Why did you choose to go to Grayson as opposed to TCU?
Cornelius: “I actually went to TCU for a semester and I transferred out in the Spring. I was going to redshirt there but I really wanted to play baseball. I had the opportunity to do that at Grayson so I took it. There were no hard feelings when I left TCU. When I told coach Schlossnagle that I was leaving he was really cool about it and he even encouraged me to go ahead and play at Grayson.”
Real McCoy: Tell me about coach Dusty Hart from from Grayson College.
Cornelius: “Coach Hart is an awesome guy. He’s one of my favorite people in the whole world.”
Real McCoy: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Cornelius: “Recently, one word that I’ve been using a lot is consistency. I want to be healthy and consistent in my hitting and in my all overall game in general. In the past I’ve torn my meniscus and I’m part of the 1% of all infielders that had to have Tommy John surgery. Right now, I’m only looking toward the future.”
Real McCoy: I briefly spoke with your agent Phil Terrano at Primetime Sports. He seems like a really good guy. Is there anything you want to say about him and the guys at Primetime?
Cornelius: “Yeah (speaking with conviction), before I was with Primetime I was with another agency and they kinda put me by the wayside. Since I’ve been with Phil that’s never happened. Phil and the others at Primetime genuinely care. I have nothing but good things to say about them.”
Real McCoy: Lastly, Do you have any hobbies outside of baseball that you want to talk about?
Cornelius: “I go hunting a lot with my dad, mostly deer hunting. Sometimes I like to just go out and shoot.”
Kevin Cornelius strikes me as the type of player that you really want to root for. He’s a nice, respectful and well spoken young man. I don’t think he has ever made an enemy in his life (except for maybe a few deer). Before this interview I didn’t know much about Kevin but I’m glad I do now. I think a good MLB comparison for him would be Brandon Drury from the Diamondbacks. Hopefully he’ll have the same kind of success as him at the next level.