On July 16, 2016, Justin Marks threw the fourth no-hitter in Durham Bulls Triple-A history, and the first ever thrown by one player in the organization’s 19-year I.L. tenure. The southpaw sat down with Bulls’ broadcaster Patrick Kinas fewer than 24 hours after his historic evening.
Recently, Hit Bull Win Blog sat down with Durham’s 23-year-old infielder/outfielder to discuss his on-field play, traveling, history and playing for Craig Biggio.
How has the early part of the season gone for you?
Had the ups and downs. Started out doing well, now I’m kind of struggling a bit, but it’s a long season so I’m staying positive.
Did you expect to be in AAA this season?
I felt like I had a good year last year, and once you get to the Triple-A level it all kind of depends on who makes the big league team. I thought I deserved to be here, but it depends on who makes the team. In the end I’m here.
What has it been like playing at a different level every season?
At 19 years old I was in the Appalachian League with the Royals and that was fun, fun year. Then I got traded in the offseason and the next year went to Low-A with a whole new group of guys. There was an adjustment period and you know it was a great year there. Then in 2014, in High-A, it was the same group of guys and Jared (Sandberg) was our manager. That was a good year. Then last year in Double-A pretty much same group of guys and new manager with Brady Williams, that was a good year again. It was a good league, and I got to play in Jacksonville, my hometown. Now in Triple-A, and we’re already a month in. I remember just getting here. I remember it being spring training and wanting the season to start, now we’re here.
What was it like playing in Australia? Was that a crazy experience?
That was a lot of fun. That was 2013-14, and we had me and some guys I got close with on the Hot Rods (Rays Class-A affiliate), so that was fun. We got to travel the entire country, my parents came out there and we went to the Great Barrier Reef. That was really cool. We flew everywhere. Flew all over the country playing, so it was a great time for three months or so.
Was that your first time in Australia?
Yeah, that was my first time outside of the country other than some cruises and stuff. Then this last offseason I went to Europe.
Where did you go in Europe?
I went to England, Scotland and Ireland. My uncle got married in Northern England, so we kind of made a vacation out of it for 10 days. His wife is from Aonach, Northumberland in Northern England, so that was where they got married. It was a whole family thing. There were probably 10 of us who flew into London, we were there for a couple days, and then we drove up to Northumberland. Then we went to Scotland, went to the Loch Ness and saw that. Then flew to Dublin, Ireland and stayed there for a few days.
Where do you want to visit next?
I don’t know, I really enjoy travelling and seeing new places. I’ve always wanted to go to Germany. I took a class on the Holocaust in high school, and I’ve always found that part of history interesting, so I think it would be intriguing to tour the concentration camps and stuff like that. I know that’s not up some people’s alleys, but I’m intrigued by that stuff.
Do you consider yourself a history buff?
History was always my favorite. Math and history were always my best subjects in high school. I watch a lot of documentaries and stuff like that.
Was history something you wanted to study if you had gone to the University of Georgia instead of being drafted?
I think I’ve acquired that taste in history more over the years. In school it wasn’t something I was big into, the only thing I cared about was baseball then. But I think more since I’ve been in pro ball I’ve been intrigued by it.
You’ve played in the Durham area before with Burlington. Did you get a chance to explore the area?
I’ve never been to Durham before, I’ve been to Cary before, but not Durham or Raleigh. I enjoyed Burlington, it’s kind of a small town. I like North Carolina, I have a lot of family that lives outside Charlotte, and so I’ve been there plenty, but never Durham. I like it, it’s awesome so far.
Do you have a pre-game routine or any superstitions?
Yeah, starting last year around the first series of the second half, some of the guys didn’t think I could do 20 pushups in a row. I said, “I’ll do it, and if I hit a home run today I’ll do it the rest of the season,” and then I hit a home run, so I did it the whole season and carried that into this season.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing baseball?
Well, I like to travel, and you have to have money for that, but I would probably do something like study or something with history. That’s what I do when I’m at home. When I don’t have anything to do I watch documentaries, so probably researching old historical sites or stuff like that. Some people might think that’s boring, but I like it.
You played under former Houston Astro and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio in high school. What was that like?
That was awesome. I moved to Houston my senior year for my dad’s job, and then we went to St. Thomas where his two kids went, so I played for Craig and that was awesome. I learned a lot of the mental side, because I was only 18, so I learned a lot then and a lot of infield stuff and mental side of the game. Craig helped a lot, and we were blessed, we won the state championship that year, so it was fun. Craig’s a great guy.
What is the biggest thing he taught you that has really stuck with you?
I’d say just playing the game hard because he was always about going out there and giving it everything you can because no one can ask more. You’re not going to get a hit every time, you’re not going to win every single game, but as long as you go out there and try to play to the best of your ability every day, no one can ask for more than that.
What has been your favorite memory from playing baseball?
The closest I got to winning a championship was my first year in the Appalachian League. There’s only three games in the series and all three games went to 13 innings, and we blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning with two outs. But I mean, it was awesome getting all the way there. Winning the high school state championship my senior year in Texas sticks out, too. And then in big league camp this year, I hit a home run in one of the games and that was awesome.
Last night the newest member of the Durham Bulls, INF Nick Franklin, scored the Bulls lone run in game one, before hitting a game-winning homer in game two of the doubleheader against the Buffalo Bisons. The switch-hitting middle-infielder joined the Bulls a week ago from the Seattle Mariners organization in the three-team deal that sent LHP David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Bulls broadcaster Patrick Kinas caught up with the 23-year-old earlier this week to talk about the trade, his family ties to the east coast and first impressions of the Durham Bulls.
In our latest installment of Pregame With PK, Bulls’ broadcaster Patrick Kinas sits down with Rays’ catching prospect Curt Casali, who was promoted to Durham from Double-A Montgomery back on May 5th. The Connecticut native has been nothing short of superb this season, hitting a combined .311-1-14 between the Biscuits and Bulls, and is leading all of Minor League Baseball in OBP since April 15, coming in at a .515 clip.
Kinas caught up with the young catcher, as the two talked about his first taste of Triple-A baseball, his time at Vanderbilt, and what it was like growing up in an athletic family in New Canaan, CT.
In this edition of Pregame with PK, Bulls’ broadcaster Patrick Kinas sits down Syracuse Chiefs manager Billy Gardner Jr. Now, some of you might be wondering, “Why do I care about an interview with the Chiefs’ head honcho?” Well the reason, you see, is that Gardner was the manager of the Montgomery Biscuits, the Rays’ Double-A squad, from 2007-2013. Of the roster the Bulls brought to Syracuse this week, Gardner has managed 14 of the 26 players (CJ Riefenhauser is on the DL) at one point or another.
Kinas caught up with Gardner as the two talked about managing in Montgomery, the Rays organization and his new gig in Syracuse.
Recently Bulls’ broadcaster Patrick Kinas sat down with outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, as the two talked about the outfielder’s historic debut in 2013, his unusual (almost unbelievable) route to getting drafted and his progress in his first full season at the Triple-A level.
Throughout the season here on Hit Bull Win Blog, we’ll be bringing you interviews with various Bulls players and personnel from Bulls’ broadcaster Patrick Kinas.
Our first installment comes from OF Justin Christian, who sat down recently with PK, as the two talked about Christian’s early career, his first MLB call-up and his path to Durham.