SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Success breeds success in the Seager family.
If it weren’t for his two older, baseball-playing brothers, Corey Seager doesn’t think he would be where he currently is, in the Arizona Fall League after a season in which he was named co-winner of the Branch Rickey Award as the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league player of the year.
Justin, the middle Seager child at 22, completed his second professional season with the Clinton LumberKings in the Midwest League this year. Kyle, the 26-year-old eldest of the three, is home after his fourth season with the Seattle Mariners at the big-league level, and has offered plenty to Corey along his way.
"Having an older brother go through it makes it a little easier," the young Seager said. "Whatever he’s going through, I can ask him about it and everything. So it makes my learning curve shorter…I’ve asked him about everything. He’s gone through it already so I can figure out how he did it and adjust from that. It’s pretty much everything from hitting to defense to taking care of yourself, all that stuff."
Corey plays the game with a maturity and baseball sense beyond his years, qualities that he is grateful to have learned along the way and claims are the responsibility of Kyle and Justin.
"Definitely my brothers," the returning member of the Glendale Desert Dogs said. "I was always trying to beat them at a young age and they always whooped up on me. I got to be around older guys growing up so that helped me mature faster. I watched a higher game being played so it helped me figure out stuff younger, and I’ve got to [give credit] to those two."
With Corey spending his year between the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and the Chattanooga Lookouts, with the majority of his time in Double-A, the Seager brothers were in three different time zones for most of the season, but it didn’t hinder the 20-year-old’s ability to keep up with what they were doing.
"I talk to both my brothers actually almost every night and I check their box scores every night," he said. "I keep in touch with them throughout the year."
Corey especially enjoyed watching Kyle’s playoff run with the Mariners, though the team’s bid at October baseball ended before Seattle could get there.
"That was cool," the infielder said. "They struggled last year a little bit toward the end and they got knocked out pretty early But the off-season made them very competitive and it was cool to see that it came down to the last day, so that’s always exciting. It’s a lot easier to play that late in the year when you’re still playing for something…
"It sucked [that they didn’t make the post-season] because Oakland won on the last day and knocked them out. That was hard but it was cool to see it that late."
When the young infielder was honoured with the Branch Rickey Award after hitting .349/.402/.602 with 20 home runs, 50 doubles, five triples, six stolen bases, 89 runs scored and 97 runs driven in between the Lookouts and the Quakes, his brothers were the first to offer praise.
"They congratulated me right away," Corey said. "They’re on my side so they root for everything I do. It was nice and it was a big accomplishment. They appreciated it as much as I did, so it was cool…and [co-winner] Joc [Pederson] is a good player so to tie with him is exciting. It was cool to go out to LA to get the award and everything."
Throughout his successful season, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound shortstop occasionally drew comparisons to other young superstars like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, because of his age and hitting prowess.
"That’s pretty cool," Seager said. "Those guys are special talents. They do it at a young age and they’re still doing it very highly at that age. It’s cool, so that’s a big honor to be compared to those guys. It’s pretty cool."
Among all of the impressive numbers that Seager put up over the course of the year, there is one statistic he cherishes the most.
"I put a lot of time into hitting, so probably the average was the coolest thing this year," he said. "That was nice. I put a lot of time in with the coaches and everything through this year so that was a nice one…There are quite a few coaches I worked with on it.
"This year specifically was Mike Eylward, I was with him in High-A [Rancho Cucamonga], our hitting coordinator Eric Owens, Shawn Wooten was in Double-A [Chattanooga] and he helped me a lot at the end of the year when I kind of fell off."
Because of his incredible year, the native of Kannapolis, NC was afforded the opportunity to participate in numerous events he is proud of, including enjoying his second go-round in Arizona still as the fifth-youngest player in the league after being the youngest player last fall season.
"The season was good," Seager said. "I got to do a couple cool things with the Futures Games and all-star games and that was a lot of fun, and then coming back here for a second time, I’m having fun. This is always a good time – you get to meet everybody from different teams and you get treated pretty well."
Seager’s focus is simple while in Glendale, and he is just looking forward to getting a few more at-bats. He rarely sets expectations and actually tries to stay away from doing just that. He’s been able to block outside voices throughout his young career so far, with the help of his family.
"I try and stay away from the off-field stuff as much as possible during the year," Seager said. "I try and go out there and compete every day so I don’t pay too much attention to that stuff…I don’t have any social media stuff so that helps.
"My mom loves that stuff though, so that makes it a little harder because she tells me everything that happens so I don’t even need any of it. Other than that I just try to stay away. I just talk to my brothers and my family and kind of keep it hush-hush almost."
Brudnicki is a sports journalist and statistician. She is the lead writer for Canadian Baseball Network and Prep Baseball Report Ontario, contributor to Baseball America, MLB.com, the Australian Baseball League, and fill in at Baseball Canada. You can read more of Brudnicki's work at the CBN, and follow her on Twitter at @baseballexis.