Dodgers Nation was able to contact and interview new Dodgers’ prospect and 7th round pick in the 2018 draft, James Outman. He just completed rookie ball with the Ogden Raptors after coming out of Sacramento State after his junior year. The first part of the year saw Outman start off slowly but he bounced back strong. He ended up winning player of the week honors in the Pioneer League for August 13-19. This is our first chance to learn more about James Outman. It is also a continued look at the life of minor league players in the Dodgers organization.
Dodgers Nation: Initially you weren’t in the Baseball America or MLB Draft lists. However, the Dodgers surprised a few people by drafting you in the 7th round. The Dodgers are known for finding talent where others don’t find it. Tell me a little about how the Dodgers found out about you and let you know they were high on you.
James Outman: All the credit goes to my area scout Tom Kunis. He saw something in me that I guess other people did not. I started getting attention after my summer going into my junior year where I played in Bethesda, Maryland. I couldn’t thank Tom enough for helping me get a shot.
Dodgers Nation: What are some of the adjustments you’ve had to make on the field going from college baseball at Sac State to Ogden?
James Outman: One of the adjustments that I had to make was getting used to playing every day. In college, you can play a game and then you have to sit on the outcome, good or bad, for a few days. It was kind of refreshing being able to play a new game every day so that I could focus on the next day. Getting used to playing everyday was a mental adjustment that I had to make, but it was not terribly difficult to get used to. It was either I made the adjustment or struggled because of it.
Apart from the mental adjustments, I was forced to make some physical adjustments early on. I struggled pretty bad early on going 0 for my first 23. Our hitting coaches in Ogden, Dustin Kelly and Cordell Hipolito helped me a lot with my direction and making myself more in line to hit the baseball.
Dodgers Nation: Off the field, what is your living situation like? Do you live with a roommate? Who is it? Do you live with a host family?
James Outman: We lived with Host Families while we were in Ogden. I lived with Kevin Malichesky as a player host brother. My host family was very inviting and it is really a selfless act to let a complete stranger live with you for an entire summer. They were also nice enough to set me up with a car which was huge for the whole season.
Dodgers Nation: Have the Dodgers change your diet at all? My understanding is they have an organizational nutrition type plan that goes from the bottom to the top.
James Outman: I like to think that I had a pretty good diet before I joined the Dodgers. The main thing was the accessibility to all different kinds of food. I found that I was eating more veggies and fruits and having a more balanced diet because of the easy access to quality food. Every affiliate has a team chef. If every team has a chef like Chef Rob, we will be in good hands.
Dodgers Nation: How is the travel? Is it mostly by bus? How does it affect your sleep habits?
James Outman: All travel is by bus. It doesn’t terribly affect my sleep habits because I went to bed late every night there anyway. It takes me several hours to cool down after the games because I am usually amped from the game.
Dodgers Nation: Do you have some teammates that don’t speak English? How well are you able to communicate with them? Do you speak Spanish or are you learning?
James Outman: I thought that playing with guys that don’t speak the same language as me would be very difficult, but it turns out that it wasn’t difficult at all. I was able to establish good relationships with the Latin guys and I learned some Spanish as a result of it. I knew no Spanish at all going into the season and between my limited knowledge of Spanish and their English, we can communicate to each other efficiently.
Dodgers Nation: You seemed to have started slowly with Ogden but now you’ve shown a big uptick in your statistics. What do you attribute your improvements to?
James Outman: Like I said earlier I attest a lot of my improvements to my hitting coaches, teaching me about mechanics and helping me with my approach. It was frustrating at first, putting myself in a hole, but as soon as I relaxed and learned myself as a ball player, I saw improvements.
Dodgers Nation: How difficult was the decision to sign with the Dodgers instead of going back for your Senior year?
James Outman: I didn’t think that it was that hard of a decision. It has been my dream ever since I have been little to be a big leaguer so I did not want to pass up the opportunity when it came up.
Dodgers Nation: What position does the Dodgers seem to be targeting for you? I’ve seen the box scores and it seems they have you in various spots in the outfield.
James Outman: I have actually only played center field the entire season. It took some adjustments at first to get used to the angles. After a few games, I got used to it and it started to become second nature.
Dodgers Nation: Anything you’d like to say to Dodgers Nation? Any advice to up and coming players? Do you have a twitter account they can follow you on?
James Outman: I would like to thank Dodgers Nation for getting this interview.
If I had to give advice to younger players, I would just tell them to relax. I spent my junior year stressing out too much and it hurt me. In the long run, even though we can’t realize it sometimes, baseball players just need to realize that it’s still just a game. If younger players were wondering what they could do to improve their game I would answer by telling them just to get as many swings and at bats as possible and to not stop trying to get better. Nothing in hitting is ever figured out. There’s honestly no secrets in hitting. Just watch big leaguers (the best in the world) and keep learning.
Instagram – @jamesoutman
Twitter – @james_outman
Thank you again to James Outman for taking the time to answer our questions. We should expect to see him in 2019 with either the Great Lakes Loons or the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Thank you to Kevin Johnson Photography for permission to use photos of James.