Corey Ray has several exciting tools that have made him one of the Milwaukee Brewers most prized prospects. We spoke with the former Louisville Cardinal, who is currently patrolling the outfield for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.
The Fall League is where players are focused on making improvements and taking their game to the next level. Ray’s efforts are centered around comfort and competing.
“Getting more comfortable at the plate. Throughout my pro career, I’ve been thinking a lot, trying to do a lot and prove a lot to a lot of different people. Now, I’m just trying to be comfortable, not think about anything and just compete.”
The AFL is staffed with coaches from different organizations. With the collection of different points of view, comes the ability to learn. Taking advantage of the knowledge base around him has benefitted his developmental process.
“To play against and with these guys, you can’t help but get better. One-on-one time in the cage before batting practice and after batting practice. All of the coaches have a chance to get their eyes on you. You get to pick their brains a little bit during the downtime when you’re not playing. Mentally and physically, it accelerates the developmental process.”
Arizona is the destination for those ready to attend prospect finishing school for six weeks in the fall. Past prospects that graduated the Fall League and went on to big league stardom include Gary Sanchez, Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado, just to name a few. Ray has had the opportunity to experience playing with premium players and the faster pace that comes with it.
“All the talent that’s here. You hear about how the arms are good, everyone throws hard. There are some bats here. The thing that stood out the most are the plays that these guys are making. You hit a ball hard and it’s an out now. On the ground, guys are making diving plays. Outfielders are running balls down. Defensively the game’s faster.”
There are only six weeks for these groups of players and coaches to gel and become a cohesive unit on the diamond. Playing together as one has been a key for Ray and the River Rafters this AFL season.
“We clicked right away from the first practice. Most teams that I’ve played on in pro ball, the pitchers are with the pitchers and the hitters are with the hitters. Here, we’re all one. We’re all playing ping pong before the game and after the game, we’re all messing around in the cafeteria.”
Mental preparation is an important part of succeeding as a professional baseball player and Ray offers his advice to those with pro aspirations.
“You only get as far as you want to go. It’s not so much about physical at this level, it’s about mental. Mentally not trying to be somebody else or be what everyone tells you that you can be or should be. Go out there compete and be yourself.”