Brewers' Cain on big league path
Outfield prospect impressed scouts in Arizona Fall League
Any baseball fan who regularly attends Minor League baseball games can tell you about the joys of getting to watch players "grow up" and being able to say you knew them when.
And fans in Charleston, W.Va., no doubt remember the lanky outfielder with the sweet smile who lit up the South Atlantic League leaderboards for the West Virginia Power in 2006.
His name is Lorenzo Cain, giving that town's biggest celebrity and fan, "The Toastman," an easy job when it came to painting signs: Raising Cain.
Cain, only 20 at the time, had won the short-season Arizona League batting crown the previous summer when he hit .356 after signing as a draft-and-follow pick. A virtual newcomer to baseball, having just started the sport in high school, his God-given talent and physical prowess was evident, as he batted .307 with 60 RBIs and 34 steals at West Virginia in his first full season.
Two years later, Cain has blossomed physically, no longer a willow but a serious tree of a guy. But that sweet smile and engaging personality are still very much there.
"Lo-Cain," as his friends and teammates call him (the nickname came from former coach Ed Sedar), opened a lot of eyes in the Arizona Fall League, and it won't be giving away any trade secrets to say that several scouts mentioned him as one of the players who most impressed them.
Playing for the Peoria Javelinas, Cain hit .333 with five homers, 11 RBIs and a .635 slugging percentage. He got a late start after completing his rehab from a strained hamstring that had sidelined him since mid-August.
And if his 2009 season is anything like his '08 campaign -- when he combined for 11 homers, 61 RBIs and 25 steals at Class A Advanced Brevard County, Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville, all at age 22 -- he could find himself in the big leagues before long.
The Brewers certainly think so, as he is one of three top prospects they've invited to Lansdowne, Va., to participate in next week's MLB Rookie Career Development Program.
MLB.com had a chance to chat with Cain about life on and off the field:
MLB.com: Of what accomplishment, on or off the field, are you the proudest?
LC: Finishing high school. That made my mom really happy because most people in my family didn't finish school. So doing that and being able to come out and play this great game of baseball.
MLB.com: Complete this sentence: It would surprise people to know that ...
LC: ... started playing baseball when I was in 10th grade.
MLB.com: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?
LC: I mostly play video games and try to relax. I'm a Madden NFL 09 fan.
MLB.com: What is the coolest thing you've ever done?
LC: I'd have to say during the season when we get to go see the kids in the hospital. That's so exciting to me because their faces light up whenever we come.
MLB.com: Which aspect of life in the Minors do you find to be the biggest challenge and why?
LC: In my eyes, the grind. You're grinding every day. And it's tough being away from home. A lot of people don't know what really goes on inside the locker room or the work we put in. Going from city to city, traveling has been especially tough for me.
MLB.com: Which aspect of life in the Minors has surprised you the most, in comparison to what you might have imagined before you turned pro?
LC: I never thought I'd be playing baseball right now. It's all still amazing and shocking to me that I'm here.
MLB.com: What is the biggest misconception that people outside of baseball have about life in the Minors?
LC: They all think I'm rich, and that's not true.
MLB.com: Who is the most unusual character you've met in your pro baseball career?
LC: A guy named Freddy Parejo. He's hilarious, the way he goes about his business and the way he knows how to have fun with the game. He's just different.
MLB.com: What is the one question you hope you never hear again?
LC: How does it feel being in the spotlight, because a lot of people think I'm in the spotlight. But I'm not a spotlight guy. I like to just sit back and relax and let the other guys have the attention.
MLB.com: If you were commissioner for a day, which one rule would you change?
LC: I see they've put new instant replay in the game now and I'm more of a "just let the game happen" guy.
MLB.com: Where have you played in the Minors?
LC: Arizona; Helena, Mont.; Charleston, W.Va.; Brevard County, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; Nashville, Tenn.
MLB.com: On your current or most recent club (Huntsville), what was your favorite thing about playing there? And is there anything you would change?
LC: I wish more people would come to the games there because I like having a crowd, but you have to deal with it.
MLB.com: In your career, what has been your favorite road trip and why?
LC: When I was at Triple-A for a little bit, going to Oklahoma City. I loved Bricktown, that was a lot of fun.
MLB.com: What is the best Minor League promotion or visiting act you've seen?
LC: The Famous Chicken. It's so cute with the little chicks. He's hilarious.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.