Brandon Laird is one of the top Yankee prospects. He currently plays for the Double-A Trenton Thunder and is leading the league in RBIs.
The other night, Laird hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, home run), including a walk-off home run (above) to win the game.
I was in the press box for that game, in fact, I spent some time with Laird before the game. I knew he was a top prospect, but what impressed me most was his character and attitude. Below are the highlights from our conversation.
Brandon Laird is 22 and comes from a baseball family. His brother, Gerald, is the starting catcher for the Detroit Tigers.
I started out by asking Laird about the best home run he ever hit.
“It was in a playoff game in high school, extra innings and I got a first pitch fast ball and just put a good swing on it.”
The key word is just. He “just” put a good swing on it. Laird and I talked about how peak performance happens when we have very little mental interference. You’re not thinking about your technique, your last at-bat, what people will think if you have a bad game or “what am I eating later?”
ET: Do you ever get nervous before games?
BL: I do. But then I take a couple deep breaths and tell myself that I’ve been in this situation before.
ET: Who is your favorite player?
BL: Growing up I was a big Chipper Jones fan and now I like Alex Rodriguez, as well.
ET: How did you get to this point in your career?
BL: Hard work.
ET: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
BL: A lot. The scouts at how well you do, but they also look at how poorly you do. If you go 4-4, that’s great, but if you can go 0-4 and still contribute on defense, be a leader and bounce back the next game, that’s even better.
ET: How is your nutrition?
BL: I actually started eating really well and lost about 25 pounds and it is definitely giving me more energy and helping me play at a higher level. It wasn’t easy, but I stuck to it.
Laird also shared with me the fact that he didn’t even make varsity in his first year of high school. “You can’t control that – you just have to go out and play your game and focus on the things you can control.”
Derek Jeter and Pete Rose also gave Laird some great advice (watch the video below).
As you know, after my conversation with Laird, he went out on the field and became only the second person in team history to hit for the cycle.
I could tell just by talking to Brandon that he had the right mindset and that he will go far. In fact, I gave him a copy of my book and signed it, “See you in the Bronx, Ed.”
Brandon Laird is a great player, but more importantly, he is a great person.
Watch the video below for part of our conversation…