Over the weekend, Talking Chop had the chance to interview Atlanta Braves infield/outfield prospect Ray-Patrick Didder.
For those who aren’t familiar with the recently turned 24 year old from Aruba, Didder is a versatile, speedy, slick fielding infielder/outfielder who reached Double A in the second half of 2018. For his entire minor league career to date he is hitting .250/.357/.344, showing off very promising on base skills, as well as the speed needed to swipe a combined 89 bases over the past three seasons.
He was selected by the Braves to play in the Arizona Fall League, and is currently working out there getting ready for the AFL season. This past Friday he was chosen by MLB Pipeline as the Braves AFL sleeper prospect, as they chose a sleeper from each organization in the league- an honor that was well deserved as Didder is definitely an under the radar prospect due to the depth in the Braves system.
Note that Eric Cole spoke with Didder prior to the 2017 season, so you can see more background information here.
Also note that the interview took place on Friday night, prior to Game 2 against the Dodgers.
Matt Powers: So when you spoke to Eric Cole, it was noted that you had a life long friendship with Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts as well as a friendship with Ronald Acuña, ever since you guys played together. What’s it like to be able to sit back and watch your close friends play in the postseason? As well as to know that in a short time that can be you out there joining them as well?
Ray-Patrick Didder: The postseason…everyone plays for this, to make the playoffs and become world champs. Bogaerts has been there the last three years and then in 2013 when he won it all after he got called up. He said it was a great experience, and people may not know this but he was nervous because it was his first year in the big leagues and he got a big role playing third base. Then Acuña and also Ozzie Albies, I’m waiting for the game to start today. I’m hoping all the best for them so that they beat the Dodgers. Tonight, they need to get a jump early as they know they need to get things to click in the first three innings.
MP: One of your biggest strengths is your versatility defensively and being able to play anywhere. Any thoughts on being able to play a utility role? Do you have a preference between playing everyday or being able to play all over, or infield/outfield?
RPD: It does matter where I play, but if that’s what they need for me to play every single position to play every day, I’d love to do that. I want to play every day and it doesn’t matter playing infield or outfield because playing every day under the big lights is my dream.
MP: Do you have any preference for your defensive position? I know you were a natural shortstop, would that be your choice?
RPD: I’d love to play shortstop every day if I could. However, if I have the option of being the backup shortstop or being the utility guy, I would rather be the utility guy so I could play every day.
MP: What part of the game do you enjoy most on the field? I mean do you prefer to play defense, or prefer to use your speed as a weapon on the bases, or would you rather hit?
RPD: At some point it’s all going to click and it will be all of those things together. Once I’m playing every day the hitting will come around and obviously the on base is already in play.
MP: What was the biggest challenge for you in moving from the lower half of minors to the upper half of the minors this season?
RPD: I don’t think there was a biggest challenge because baseball doesn’t change. The game might speed up and the pitchers will work on their offspeed and locations. The game doesn’t change so you just have to slow down and try to take control over the game so they don’t have control over you.
MP: Your output at the plate took a jump after moving to Mississippi. Did you do anything different? Or was it maybe your hitting style worked better against more mature pitchers who had a better feel for their command or offspeed stuff?
RPD: I did challenge myself late in the year because I wasn’t hitting in High A and they bumped me up to Double A, so I think they were challenging me to see if I could play at a higher level. So I challenged myself and told myself I wasn’t hitting in High A so I need to prove to them that I can hit in Double A. I tried to be more consistent and disciplined at home plate and putting the ball in play as well as striking out less.
MP: So you made it to the AFL, and congrats on being named the Sleeper Prospect within the Braves organization by MLB Pipeline. How do you feel about getting to play in such a prestigious league?
RPD: Its an honor to be here in the AFL. Most people know that players who play in the AFL have an 80% chance of making the big leagues in the next year or two. So it’s an honor and I know a few guys who had the opportunity to play in the AFL in the last few years, and they have a huge role in the big leagues right now.
MP: Is there any pitcher you are looking forward to facing for the first time there? Or maybe someone you’ve already faced and want another chance against?
RPD: Not really. I’m just trying to go out every day and have the best at bats I can whether I hit, lineout, or strikeout. I need to have fun, work hard, and be consistent.
MP: Who is the toughest pitcher you’ve faced so far?
RPD: I don’t have a toughest pitcher I’ve faced. Maybe Dylan Cease from the White Sox, who I faced in Mississippi. He’s relaxed on the mound, throws hard, and commands his pitches pretty well, too. He’s effortless out there.
MP: Do you have any offseason plans, either baseball related or just something you plan to do? Is there anything you plan to work on?
RPD: Just talk to guys who are already there. Hear from Albies after his first full season, Acuña, Bogaerts, Touki, and all those guys to catch up with them and to see what the difference is between the major leagues and the minor leagues. Also, I want to be more positive.
MP: Do you have any expectations for yourself in 2019? Or any place you see yourself starting the season at?
RPD: I had maybe 135 at bats in Double A, so if I had to guess I think I will start there. It doesn’t matter where I start as much as where I end. I want to end next year in the big leagues. I just have to prove to everyone that I can play at the big leagues. I have heard I have the talent to play in the big leagues, but I need to prove I can play in the big leagues.
MP: While you haven’t shown a ton of power yet to date, we understand you’ve got a little bit more power in your game. Is that something you are trying to bring out on your own? Or is that something you just let happen naturally?
RPD: Power isn’t something I look for. I try to drive the ball to the gaps. I don’t think power is a part of my game, my game is put the ball in play and run and play defense. If I hit a ball in the gap instead of it being a double, I can have a triple. I don’t look to hit home runs, home runs just happen. Home runs will come but you’ve just got to put a good swing on with a gap approach and drive the ball. Then it might be a home run.
MP: One thing I have to ask is who your favorite players to watch were growing up? As a guy who became a Brave and from a country near Curaçao, I’m wondering if that was Andruw Jones or someone else.
RPD: I always used to watch Derek Jeter, until Bogaerts got to the big leagues.
MP: Before I let you go watch the game, any prediction tonight and for the series?
RPD: Looking for the Braves to win tonight and also for the Red Sox to win their first game.
I just want to thank Ray-Patrick Didder for his time and will enjoy following his progress out in Arizona. If you would like to follow him on Twitter you can find him @Didder94 there.