July 1, 2010
Mike Bianucci played at Auburn from 2006-08, playing both third base and in the outfield. A career .335 hitter with 43 doubles, three triples, 35 home runs and a .613 slugging percentage, he was an eighth-round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2008 MLB Draft. Now an outfielder with the Bakersfield Blaze of the Class A Advanced California League, he is currently hitting .243 with seven doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 38 RBI. He took time out before Thursday night's game to catch up with AuburnTigers.com.
Q: Compare living and playing in California to living in your home state of Virginia as well as Auburn.
A: It is a lot different, a different atmosphere and people are a lot different. I personally loved playing in the south. I don't enjoy it out here as much, but it's nice to see different parts of the country. If I had my choice I would rather play back down south by Auburn if I had the chance.
Q: Who is the best pitcher you have seen so far this year? The best hitter?
A: The best pitcher so far this year is probably a guy from Stockton, (Paul) Smyth. He throws from the side, down underneath, at about 92 and I just don't see it from side-armed pitchers that well. The best hitter is (Brandon) Belt from San Jose. He seems to go 3-for-4 against us every time we play them.
Q: Have you faced any former Auburn teammates or other players this year?
A: I faced (Bryan) Woodall twice this year and I am 0-for-2 with a fly out and a strike out. Joe Sanders actually just got called up to Modesto and that's where we are right now so I will see him today as we play against them.
Q: Did you follow Auburn's run this season?
Q: Have you been back to Auburn since you signed?
A: I did. It's crazy seeing them play. My roommate this year (Doug Hogan) actually played at Clemson so we were getting after it a little bit as they were playing. He keeps giving me a hard time about it so it was nice to see (South) Carolina beat them so I can give it back to him.
A: I was back there in the off-season. Coach Pawlowski let me work out there. It was good seeing all of the old guys.
Q: You didn't play for him, but what are your thoughts on Coach Pawlowski?
A: He seems like a great guy. He has welcomed us back with open arms. He told us if there was anything we needed, don't hesitate to ask. He said he would be happy to help us out with anything. He seems like a great dude.
Q: When you signed out of school, did you make any big purchase with your signing bonus?
A: The first thing I bought was a four-wheeler. Then I got a little boat to do some fishing with.
Q: How did Friday night SEC pitching compare to what you are seeing now?
A: Nothing compares to those Friday night guys. All the guys we faced on Friday nights are in the big leagues now. You have (David) Price (Vanderbilt - Tampa Bay), (Darren) O'Day, the guy that was the closer for Florida is closing for the Rangers now. Tommy Hunter is with Texas. Wade LeBlanc is with San Diego.
Q: How would Plainsman Park stack up against fields in the California League? Are they hitters or pitchers parks?
A: It would be the nicest one, I can tell you that much. I am going to lean towards pitchers parks, especially the place we are playing today (John Thurman Field - Modesto Nuts). It's 415 to center and 405 to the gaps. It's huge. A lot of these fields, the wind doesn't really blow out at all so it's tough to get one out.
Q: What advice would you give to guys that were just drafted out of college?
A: Looking back, I am not sure if I would have gone back for my senior year or not. All the guys that are out here now, it's funny, when the season's over they are all like, `I can't wait to get back to school' because it is such a good time. My biggest piece of advice would probably be make sure it's the right decision leaving a year early. Don't just take money as a factor. When you get here, it's nothing baseball and you don't have much time to have fun. Enjoy college while you are there.