I should start by saying as a Florida State alumnus, this is an interview I’ve wanted to do all season. Brewers farmhand and current Brevard County Manatee D’Vontrey Richardson is not only the Brewers #24 ranked prospect according to Baseball America, but also a former Florida State University two-sport athlete. During his time at FSU (2007-2009), he played centerfield for the baseball team and was a backup quarterback on the Seminole football team.
During a recent visit to Tampa to play the Tampa Yankees, I caught up with D’Vontrey and we talked baseball, the transition from FSU to the minors, and whether or not he sees alumni pulling for him throughout the state of Florida.
BLB: Let’s start with some “getting to know you”-type questions. What is your favorite sports movie?
DR: Favorite sports movie … hmm. Probably The Longest Yard.
BLB: The first one or the second one?
DR: The second one.
BLB: Who are your favorite all-time athletes?
DR: I don’t have many, but probably Vick football-wise. In baseball, probably Gary Sheffield. Whenever I was growing up, I would see him play. In basketball, probably (Derrick) Rose now, with how explosive he is.
BLB: Now, wait, The Longest Yard, that’s the movie with Burt Reynolds in the original, right? How can you like the second one more? You stayed in Burt Reynolds Hall, right? Burt might not be too happy.
DR: Ha ha. Right. Well, I ain’t seen the first one. I’ve only seen the second one.
BLB: You were injured earlier this season. How is the hip?
DR: It’s better. It comes with the game. Just trying to play. I have to get stronger and try to stay in the lineup. It was a struggle initially as it was my first real injury. So I am trying to get out there and do something.
BLB: You are warming up at the plate after a slow start. What’s going right?
DR: Just bunting, actually. I’m still not seeing the ball the way I want to, but that’s baseball. You have a lot of ups and downs. I’m just trying to battle through the struggle. I feel like I am still not seeing the ball like I should, so it’s just relaxing and bunting and trying to get myself some confidence.
BLB: You say you are not seeing the ball the way you should. What are you doing to try to help that out?
DR: Just taking it day by day. Because all it takes is one swing. Just seeing the ball more, I guess. You’re going to be cold, you’re going to be hot, and more times cold, so I gotta learn how to battle through that cold streak.
BLB: I’d like to talk to you about your 6 for 6 day a couple of months ago.
DR: That was a little bit of luck. The night before that, I went 1 for 4 and hit every ball on the barrel. The day after that, I hit one ball on the barrel and that was a double, and then everything else I hit on the end of the bat, I got jammed and all, and the hits just came. That’s the game. It was a little bit of luck but I took it.
BLB: Did it help the confidence out a little?
DR: It helped me out. Especially with the series after that, I was starting to feel good.
BLB: So what adjustments did you make this year over your first year last season?
DR: Just mentally. Last year was my first full season of just baseball. I couldn’t deal with the struggles, but this year I’ve adjusted to it, understanding that it is just part of the game.
BLB: What are your goals for this year?
DR: My goals for this year are to finish strong, start fresh, and get stronger in the offseason. To try to stay health through to the offseason so I can get stronger.
BLB: So I have a few background questions for you. Why did you choose baseball over football?
DR: Well, it was an opportunity that opened. I was playing both football and baseball there and my whole life people were telling me that I was going to have to choose, so it just came and I felt like I had to take it.
BLB: Did you see (fellow former FSU two-sport athlete) Taiwan Easterling signed with Chicago?
DR: Oh, he did? Which Chicago team?
BLB: The Cubs. Have you talked to him? Did you have any advice for him?
DR: No, I haven’t talked to him at all. But he got drafted 5th round out of high school before so he could be good. I mean, he is a great competitor. He is gonna compete. He is gonna continue to get better every day. But I haven’t talked to him. The last time I talked to him was in February before Spring Training and he said he was going to leave. So congrats to him and I wish the best for him.
BLB: Did you talk to anyone in regards to your own decision to play baseball over football? Did you talk with Coach Bowden or Coach Martin?
DR: Not particularly. They kinda thought I was gonna take it anyway.
BLB: How is life in the minors versus life at Florida State?
DR: It’s different. I mean, it’s more laid back. All the road trips. Not really at a custom place to stay. It’s different, but I guess that’s why they say the minor leagues is more mental. It’s a grind. But at Florida State, you know, everything was basically taken care of. It was a D1 college, and they had good locker rooms and everything was nice there. It wasn’t bad at all.
BLB: You hear a lot that Coach Bowden is very influential in people’s lives. What have you brought with you from your time playing for him?
DR: The years I was there he always preached God to us. To put God first and make sure you always have God in your life. That’s one of the main things that I have with me now. To have that in mind, because he was always preaching that.
BLB: Ok, what about Coach Martin?
DR: Same really. When he coached, he had a drive to him. He always wanted us to get better. So it’s just something I learned there was to keep trying to get better.
BLB: Did you watch the baseball team or the football team this season?
DR: No, no I didn’t.
BLB: Ok, you mentioned you stayed in touch a bit with Taiwan. Is there anyone you still stay in touch with regularly?
DR: On the football team, no one anymore. But baseball, yeah. I still know Sherman (Johnson, FSU 3rd baseman), Hunter (Scantling, pitcher), (Brian) Busch (pitcher), Tyler Everett (pitcher), Devon Travis (infielder). I talk to a couple of people. That’s all I usually talk to when I go back, not many people.
BLB: Now that you are in the Florida State League, do you get many alumni who recognize you and pull for you?
DR: I haven’t really talked to too many, no.
BLB: I find that interesting, because when I looked at the Manatees roster, your name jumped out and I said to myself, “I should talk to him”.
BLB: So is it a struggle in any way to put your Florida State background behind you? Do you want to be known as just a Brewers outfielder?
DR: Yeah, I just want to be known as a Brewers outfielder and a baseball player. I mean, I didn’t really do too much at Florida State. It’s a great school and great coaches, but I had to take an opportunity here.
BLB: I totally understand that. Were you surprised when you were drafted?
DR: Yeah, because I didn’t get a chance to really prove myself. But obviously they saw something in me and they took me. And I am grateful for that.
We would like to thank D’Vontrey for his time and thank the Manatees and Tampa Yankees for making the interview possible.