Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 2 years ago

Tony Kemp | Average to Savage EP34

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is the thirty-fourth episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring Houston Astros utilityman Tony Kemp. Paul Guarino talked with Tony Kemp discussing his upbringing, playing baseball at Vanderbilt University and his road to the MLB with the Houston Astros. Follow Tony Kemp https://www.instagram.com/TonyKemp6 https://www.twitter.com/TonyKemp https://www.facebook.com/TonyKempOfficial/ Powered by PG Sports https://www.pg-sports.com

This is the average to average podcastwith Paul Greno, everyone in anyone, athletes sets and much more. What'sup everybody? I'm back for another episode of the average I was podcast orspecial guests today is USI Nashtros utility player, Tony Camp. Tony, what's up? What's up all man? Thanks for having me and no problems.How's it going today? It's going good. Friday afternoon. Just went in lastlist of the week through some hit some I'm hanging out for the weekend. So you give us a brief background about yourself. Born and raised inFranklin, Tennessee, about twenty minutes south of Nashville. Went to freedom intermediate, freedom middle school and then I went to centennial high school. Played basketball, baseball and football. Stop playing basketball right around my softbare year. Mycoach, my coach kind of forced me to either play basketball or baseball andI chose base ball. Beach. You know, I knew I wasn't gonna, you know, go up the NBA as high six. So this playedplayed the best baseball and football up until senior year and then final season offootball ended and then got a scholarship to go to Vanderbilt University, played atVanderbilt for three years, two thousand and eleven to two thousand and thirteen,and got drafted by the Heaston Astros in the fifth round in two thousand andthirteen after my junior campaign, and after that went through the minor leagues forthree years. was made my major league debut of May of two thousand andsixteen and been up and down a little bit since then, but this pastyear is probably my best stint in the big league. So hoping to buildoff that going to the next year. Now, like you said, yougrew up in Tennessee how'd you get into baseball and like, what made you? I mean you kind of answered, but what made you picked it togo all out in baseball? It's a football and basketball we're growing up.I have two siblings. My sister is about eight to nine years older thanme and my brothers six years older than me, and my brother played.My brother played all three sports, so I wanted to play all three sportslike him and he kind of taught me the ropes and how to play,how to play baseball and how to play football. You set up the canin the backyard and teach me what holes to go through for football and inbasketball you taught me, you know, how to shoot a gump shot,and then in baseball, kind of taught me the ropes and how to bea good hitter and a good shielder and kind of fell in love with itand never look back. And then once I got the high school I feltlike I could go on and play and hopefully earn a college scholarship and justkind of stay in the moment and live in the present and took it oneday at a time. Yet you, and that's so yeah, you stupplebaseball. So what what made you stay close to home and go to Vanderbilt? Well, at first I only had, only had, only had to collegescholarship offers. One one was one was East Carolina, where my mommy brother played, and the other one was vanderbilt. And you know,I had, I had committed to go to East Carolina to play, toput to play baseball, and still talking to Corvine, still want a coupleof visits, and that's when vanderbuilt offered me a full ride to go playbaseball there. So kind of made that decision and made it made a littleeasier. And, you know, coming out of college with with no studentdebt was it was a big deal. I thought, yeah, for sure, and that's like one of the number one problems with college right now,I know, unfortunately as a problem. Yeah, and what was your experiencelike at Vanderbilt? You know, I always say that venderbilt kind of moldme into the the man I am today. Going there and learn a lot ofdifferent things about myself, about life, about time management and baseball and,you know, learning not only just the game of baseball but the insidegame of baseball and the you know, what you can learn from the bench, what you can learn in the field and you know, the way Ibought now is how I've bunt it in...

...college. So, you know,Corbin kind of takes you, takes you into a whole different realm of yourgame and you can really process and you know, you mold into a differentplayer once you're there. And you know, I kind of guys who go fromthe high school to the the minor league ranks. But you know,college I feel like I got me ready for the task ahead, especially goinginto mine league baseball and the grind of you know, road trips and youknow the hotels aren't as grade and yeah, but I think mentally, being ableto go to vanderbilt taught me how to deal with a lot of thosethings there, for sure. What's going down vanerabile with all the MLB talentcoming up? Yeah, I mean we have a lot of guys who comeback in a lot of guys who give back to the university and you know, people call it, you know, it's a program that it stands inhigh reguard and you know, having guys like Sonny come back and David priceand Pedro Alvarez and a bunch of guys that are are coming back, andcoach corven being able to have the alumni locker room specially. It's a bigdeal for us because we can come back work out and be able to usethe facilities and I think it's nice to go back and especially see the guysin college right now that are you know, they're season starts in about two weeks. So being able to see those guys and put yourself in those shoesand remember what it was like to have guys in the major leagues walk aroundand stuff, and it kind of sets the president. You know, youwant to be that guy, that the next guy in line. Yeah,definitely answer. That's that's cool that they let you just go back there wheneveryou want train. I love it. So you got you were named allAmerican SEC player in two thousand and thirteen. So it was that like one ofthe decision makers, like you for going your senior season to enter theMLB draft. You know, I think there was a lot of different things. After my freshman year being the two thousand and eleven sec freshman of theyear and being an all American and having that good campaign and us going intothe college world series the first time in college college history for Vanderbilt. Youknow, I felt like that was a big deal. Struggled my sophomore year, but I also think that that was good for me because it first timemy life in baseball. You know, you always are the best player.I'm one of the best players in the best teams, and being able tostruggle and go through those highs and lows what's good for me and being ableto go to the Cape and kind of put my, you know, abilitiesto the test and see that it was I actually could do this. Youknow, the best of the best talent in the college levels at that timeare all up in the end the Cape Cod League. So being able tohave success up there and going into my junior year we went twenty six andthree in the SEC, said SEC record and you know, I hit threehundred and ninety and was the SEC sec player of the year. And youknow, after that season I kind of felt like my draft stock was itall time high and I don't think that there was much left for me toprove at the college level. So going into being able to get picked inthe fifth, fifth round by the Astros was it was such a blessing andit was such a thing that I'll forget. And I remember Corbin after I gotdrafted, he just gave me a big hug and he said go getthem, and I think he kind of knew at the same time that,you know, we were playing Louisville net in that super regional but I thinkat the same time you kind of knew that I was gonna, you know, be foregoing my senior year. Yeah, for sure. What were you whatwere you projected to get drafted like? Well, round before you got drafted, I think that we went into the draft and kind of comparing peopleand I think that we said I was going to my agent actually said Iwas going to go around spot two, six, fifth round, sandwich rightin between, and so it was. It was a good projection got.Did you think you should went higher? Yeah, I think. I thinkI could have went higher. You know, being the SE player of the year, I thought that I was going to go in at least a secondor third round. But you know,...

God has a plan for everybody andI feel like he kind of placed me in that round just to just soI wouldn't be complacent. And and you know, I love the draft becauseit's so hit or miss, but it gives you that it gives you thatfeeling that anything can happen, and being able to go in the fifth roundis was such a blessing. I thought I could have gone higher, butyou know, I think that's why I still have that ship on the shoulderto this day. That's exactly what I was about to just ask you.Yeah, yeah, like even like when I was just looking up, likelike no offense to those guys, but like they're still first round guys fromthe two thousand and thirteen drafted didn't even make MLB. Yeah, and Ithink a like I said, and I think I was drafted there for areason I think. I think my head would have got too big maybe ifI was drafted a couple couple rounds earlier. So, you know, it's all, it's all a blessing man. And Yeah, you know, I'mjust happy that my name was called, period. And being a being afive six guy going in the college, there's a bunch of question marks andthere's a bunch of question marks getting drafted. Well, he's five six, he'stiny. Can't he play a hundred and sixty games like, like,I don't know what that means. Like my body is just going to giveup after a hundred games. I don't know what that could quite meant.But yeah, you know, I always, always love that stuff because it kindof fuels a fire for the for the task ahead. So I thinkit was good for me. Yeah, definitely. What was it like justgetting drafted by the aft? was really looking at you before and so yeah, I think to say as shows I didn't know what team was going todraft me. I didn't know, you know, who was in my topfive. You know, we had some draft meetings and stuff for, youknow, a couple teams, but you know, I had no idea.Like I said, it's hit or miss in the it's hitter miss in thedraft, but having the ass shows take me. I knew that the systemwas kind of in a rebuilding stage and, you know, being a second basement, I need that. They had a jose out today. So onceI kind of got into double a and I was playing second base and beingable to be fortunate enough to win a gold glove and in double a Ihad second base, was pretty cool. And once, once that happened,I think that the Astros wanted me to go back into the outfield, likeyou at the beginning of my college days, in my high school days. Andonce I once I kind of figure that out, I knew that theykind of had a plan for me because, you know, they want they wouldn'tjust move me the outfield just to move it to the outfield, butI wasn't going to take how to a spot and they were going to haveto find a spot for me because I was I felt like I was movingup the ranks pretty quick. I hadn't. There was not a year. Ihaven't been a full season with the team in the minor league's yet.So I think that's why you know they had different plans for me, sothat was a good thing, I felt. Yeah, definitely. I was justgoing to talk about like how. How? What? How did youhave success moving through the minor league, because I know sometimes it could bea struggle for some guys. Yeah, I felt like, you know,mentally, I felt like I was prepared and physically I was in some ofthe best shape I've ever been in my life. And being able to talkto my brother, he had went through those minor league games, he wentthrough that minor league grind and he kind of had some tidbits and some someknowledge kind of to pass down my way. So I felt like, you know, being able to take the things that he said and being able tojust take little tidbits of other people's and their experiences. I felt like itkind of made me a better player and I could understand, from a minorleague standpoint, if I was able to if I was able to make itto the big leagues, you know how I was going to make it.And you know it's such a Doggie dog once you're in the minor leagues becauseeverybody wants to make it to the big leagues and you know, it's mydad was actually more concerned because he was like, how are you going todo once you get to the minor leagues? You know, it's not a teamsport anymore and you know, I felt like, I feel like everybodywas in my corner and everybody was, you know, on my side.But I think that, you know, talking to my family, I saidHey, you know, it's still as a team sport and I feel likeif I could give any advice to some...

...younger guys coming up through the ranks, will be don't think that it is a dog eat dog world, because, you know, the game will always come back in. It will comeback to reward you if you use think about the team first and, youknow, moving guys over and hitting sack flies and bunching in situations that youdon't want to bunt in. But you know, I think the game alwaysfinds a way of rewarding you. So I always wanted to be that teamguy, that guy that always could, you know, my team could counton me for, you know, little things, whether be a guy onsecond base, no outs and I'm rolling over on purpose to get myself out, but the runner and the scoring position with lesson too outs, and Ithink that's that's a big deal. You kind of pass it on to thenext guy. So, you know, I would say don't don't get toowrapped up in Doggie dog world and it being selfish, but always to bethat team player. Are Sure? Speaking of team then I'm pretty sure.Did you win like a lot of rings in the Minor League? Yeah,I want to ring everywhere in the minor leagues except for double a. andit's crazy. Didn't you win like because you're on both teams, and soyou won like two rings in one season, right? Yeah, so my firstyear in two thousand and thirteen I was in Tri city, which ashort season, and I was there half of the season and half of theseason in low a, and both those teams went on to win championships.And Yeah, so I got two rings that year. Next year I startedin Higha and half like do the year it's double a and then the higha team hinted he'll win the championship, so I got a ring there andthen next year I started in double a, left for AAA and two thousand andfifteen and we end up winning the national championship and in the PCL andtwo thousand and fifteen. So we want to ring there. So, yeah, I had a lot of success as of late and being able to beon that two thousand and seventeen world series team for the east of Nash Joswas something on there. Forget through your trophy case or ring case is crazyright now. Huh. Yeah, it's it's kind of big. I'M NOTgonna lie to my main cable looks kind of Nice, I know. Goingback to like you moving up and down in the minor leagues, like likehow did you deal with that, like going up from the major's going downfor the minors, and even when you were going through the minors, justlike ranking up in the minors, like how are you dealing with like allthe moves and all that and still playing baseball like Welsh? Yeah, Ithink. I think in that regard you just have to take care of yourself. You know, obviously be a team player, but you know, youhave to take care of yourself making sure that you know. I watched thedeciant ones and it's a documentary on HBO and it talks about Jimmy Iveen anddrsre and kind of how he came up in the ranks in the music industryand Jimmy Iveen talks about I think one thing that was huge, that stuckout to me in two thousand and seventeen, that really helped me, was hetalks about horse races. And you know, in horse races they haveblighters on for a reason because you know you can kind of compare it tohumans and you can compare it to you know, they have the blinders onso they don't look at somebody the another horses, you know how they're doingin the race, and I feel like that is very comparable to, youknow, how we live our day to day lives and you know you shouldnever compare your life with somebody else and you should run your own race.And you know, what he said right there was big for me because Icould kind of understand that because, you know, there's Times where I'd lookover and be like the how is he moving up or you know how it'ssad that he's killing it and he's moving down. I don't get it.And you know, once you kind of once I watch that documentary, Ikind of just said, you know, you have to run your own raceand you have to be mentally strong in this game and there's going to bea lot of stuff that's going to hit the fan that you know you can'tcontrol. So be it's very cliche, you know, control the controllables,but that's really all you can do is control yourself, control what you eat, control your body and control your mind and just keep moving because you knowtomorrow is always tomorrow is the new day. Tomorrow is not promise. So give, give all you have today and you know, once you once youlook in the mirror at the end of...

...the day, is you know,you only have one question ask yourself. It is, you know, didI do my best? And if you did your best, and you knowyou'll sleep well that night. So I think you know going forward. Justif I could give advice to guys that you know get moved up and down, it's that you know, eat. All you can do is control yourselfand control your attitude and no one can dictate how you think. So justalways stay in that positive mindset. Yeah, for sure. And like the otherthing I think people don't realize. It's like how much baseball player likeactually travel. Yeah, I think that's a that's a huge deal. Baseall players shovel a lot and especially in the money leaves and bus strips andthen play the next day and how your body feels, and especially in AAA. You know once you get to aaa you actually be actually fly, startflying and people think it's better, but it's actually worse because you know,you if it's Sunday night and you just spit, do you just finished theseventh? You just finished the game, then you have a fly at sixam the next morning and you might have a layover. So leaving fres though, you lay over somewhere and then you get to the city, say you'replaying in El Passo, it's one in the afternoon to in the afternoon.You take a twohour nap and then your head it to the field for seveno'clock game. And you know, once you're in the big leagues it getsbetter because if you're playing, you stay then and you finish a game andit's usually you travel on all the usually day games. And if you travelon a day game, then you know you're flying out after the game onyour charter flight. And if it's a if it's a night game, thenyou have an off day the next day. So the travel in the big leaguesis a lot better. I'd say that's a big difference. That justgave me a headache. Yeah, man, it's you get used to the travel. So you know, when I was in the money leagues, Iwould just say, you know, on a travel day when your body's notfeeling good, I just say grind for one, which means you and howjust drind for one hit. Get One hit. Grind for to. Soyou just grind it out, man. It's a it's a mental hole andit's a physical it's a physical hole to but you just got to stay init and you just got to hope for the best and stay positive. Definitelytell me about the story how you got called up to the big league.Actually a pretty cool story. You know. I felt like all the stars arekind of aligned. We actually had just gotten into Nashville, so Ihad a bunch of people in the past list. We were playing the Nashvillesounds and in two thousand and sixteen and I wasn't on the forty man roster. I wasn't really I didn't think that. You know, my whole goal wasto have a good season and get and get protected and get put onthe forty man roster and that following offseason and once we got the Nashville Iwas getting pretty good. I'll sitting right around three hundred and I know ourteam in the big leagues was kind of struggling at that time. And youknow, after the game I was talking to some teachers and some family outon the right field line and Nolan Fontana came to come, came to getme and he said, Hey, we have a team meeting. And youknow, I knew we'd kind of in struggling at that time because we've probablylost five or six games in a row. So you know, a team meetingprobably, you know was you know it was probably called for. SoI told my fit, my my friends and family as to hey, I'llbe back, but you know, don't leave. So I'll be at backafter the team meeting. And so ran up to the clubhouse and Tony DFrancisco's the manager, and he said, Hey, did you talk to everybodyout there? And I said no, but I'll go back out there afterthis meeting. And he said, you know, they had a problem withyour pass list. You're not going to be able to put twenty people onthe pass list tomorrow. And I said why not? He said, well, unless those people are going to be traveling to Chicago. You'RE gonna,you're gonna not have, you're gonna not, gonna have a pass list for thisteam. I knew that we're the ash shows are playing the Chicago WhiteSox at the time and man, I was I wish, I wish there'sa photographer in there to take a picture of my face because, you know, my jaw just dropped. And he said, you know, good luck, go get them, but you're going to be playing them, be playingthe white sox in two days. And it was actually good thing because Ihad no suits at the time and I'm...

...him or my mom and I weran up to we ran up to the mall and got me a gray suitin a hit a blue suit and macy's and we had off day of Chicago. So that was my first time flying first class and flew up first classto Chicago and, you know, went up, tyler white hit a double. I went up pinched, pinch, ran for him and scored a runon Jose Altva sat fly and next day started had two hits and first pitchI saw on the big leagues I hit a double down the left field lineoff that late sooks and man that was that was probably one of the highother than getting married, probably one of the highest moments in my life.We don't want to make the wife map. Yeah, Y'all, you got toinclude her always it. What's it like play for the Ashers? Wouldlike all the talent on the team, like did you guys are staffed.Yeah, it's a it's an organization that definitely you can it makes you better, I feel like. You know, always get questions like hey, wouldyou rather be on the Astros and be a bench player? Would you ratherbe on other team starting every day? And you know, I kind ofthink it's circles back to you know, God puts you in certain places fora reason and you know I'm here for a reason and I'm doing what Ineed to do at this time right now, and I can honestly say being onthe Astros, it makes you a better player because there's so many goodplayers around you and you know having those good players around and you had elevatesyour game even more. And you know the saying iron sharp is, ironsharp uns iron is. You know it's true. And being able to wina world series and be able to play in the alcs last year and beingable to build off that season last year is, you know, gives mea lot of a lot of confidence, just because, you know, youcan tell that the guys that are in your are in your corner, reallycare about you and it makes you a better player. So going forward,man, I'm excited for this next season, if for sure. And that's leadsinto my next question. What we're your goals for the two thousand andnineteen season? You know, I'm really not a goal oriented person. Longterm, I usually like to take day by day goals or maybe weekly goals, because, you know, you know, we're all different. Like Alex Bregmanlikes long term goals, monthly goals, and I like short term goals because, you know, I feel like those goals are they're quick and they'remore attainable. And, you know, I think my goal for this seasonis, hey, it's simple. Make an opening day roster, first openingday roster of my career, and you know, from there just kind ofbuild off that and, you know, see where it takes me. Andno matter what role I'm in this year, I'm going to give it my bestand then give my all and, you know, being able to havea lot of failures in the past have led to my successes in the future. So you know, I'm confident going into this next year and I'm excitedto see what it holds. Yeah, definitely. And how do you guyscome and put all these celebrations? I can't give away all the secrets,but the celebrations just come with they just they just kind of come naturally.They don't. They don't come playing, they just kind of come in thedugout and we just kind of do them. Yeah, it's funny too because,like my friend kept on asked me, like who do you think should likewin this year, and I was like the Asher's chemistry just like crazyand obviously you're good. So like I was just like that they might doit again. Yeah, man, the Red Sox and the luck that wehad in seventeen, it's just seem like the red socks just had that lookon their side this time. Yeah, sure, and tell me about thehugs for homers. So I know you started a campaign, then you donatedmoney and so yeah, so those are homer staying kind of was a coolcampaign because you know, got Evan Gaddis to you know, be my bigleft, my big teddy bear. I just jumped on him and you know, we kind of started in Chaa with Garrett Stubbs and Aj read and drewFerguson is now with the giants, but you know, we started and westarted kind of like was a college sting. We we was just having a lotof good fun in AAA and a kind of correlated to the big leaguesand you know, I asked those guys, Hey, can I use this andput in the big leagues, and they said Shit, I'll be awesome. So raised about five or raise about seven thousand dollars and wrote a checkin NA donated all the money that we got and it was for a goodcall. So you know, it's good...

...to do stuff like that because,you know, once you have this platform, it's always good to give back.Leads into my next question. Again, you're always on point this whole interview. Now, how important is it for you to give back, becauseI saw you just had a baseball clinic at your high school and always dogiveaways and you know the hugs for homers and all that. Yeah, Ijust you know, hey, you know work even beings to and you knowsome people, you know some people kind of lose the you know, theylose that and you know, when we're going through struggles and stuff, wethey hate us, and we're going through good times, they are our bestfriends. So, yeah, I always find it comical, but you know, to give back to kids, man, it is just, you know,you never know the impact, the impact you can have on a ona kids life, you know, doing little things like camps and being ableto have them come for free and not have a pay a dime to showup and bring your bat in your glove and it's have a good time toget out of the House and get away from the video games and be ableto just have fun of your friends and have fun with people that you knowyou might need it a camp. You never know what friendships get built atcamps too. So I'm just happy to help in any way possible and,you know, give what like I said, once you have this platform, beable to give back. You know, it means a lots to me.Yeah, definitely. You ready for some fun questions? Yeah, sureare. You got to finish this sentence. When Tony isn't playing baseball, whenTony isn't playing baseball, he is playing darts. You like darts?Yeah, I have a dartboard in my man Cave and whenever the guys comeover we always have some we have some good dark games and even some darktournaments, so we have a good time. What's something people might not know aboutyou? I love documentaries. What are you? What do you recentlywatch? Recent documentary I watch was thousand and thirty, the Dian Sanders onethat just came out. Didn't check that one on yet. Yes, good. What are three baseball jerseys that you gotta get in your closet? Yeah, I know I've had some good ones. Eager Martinez just gotten hall of fameand he's down there downstairs right now. Got Clayton Kershaw, I think.I think the number one for me right now have to be Kim Griffy. I mean he that was a guy that I mean the kid. Imean he's one of the best, one of the best players who go downin major league history and I would like to have him and marina very probably. Number three is a tough one. I have a Craig Bisi as signedball, but I think would be cool to have a Craig busy as signedJersey down there. So I probably say those three. was there any secondbasement that you see modeled your game after or looked up to? We're outfield then Tony will MAC here's in a diamondback, second Baseman, small guy, left ended hitter, played second base. And Yeah, you was. Hewas my inspiration growing up, along with Ken Griffy, and know we'recan people find you on social media? Social Media at Tony Camp on ontwitter and at Tony Camp six on instagram. I try to stay off. Itry to stay off social media when I'm hanging out because, you know, apple came out with this whole facetime thing, so I'm trying to notstay on my iphone as much. But yeah, I enjoy social media's it'sfun too. I like sitting videos. Me and landso colors usually send funnyvideos backup forth to each other. Well, I appreciure you coming on. Hey, Paul, thanks for having me, man, and hope you have agood rest of your day. How are you too?.

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