DUNEDIN, FLA. – Four games into his junior year at the University of Virginia, John La Prise was sidelined with a hip injury that required season-ending surgery.
Though, that had no effect on the Toronto Blue Jays front office as they selected the former Cavalier infielder/outfielder in the 19th round, (572nd overall), of the 2015 MLB draft.
La Prise elected to take the Blue Jays up on the offer, and forewent his senior season at Virginia.
Being a Major League draft pick had been a lifelong goal for La Prise, who was going through the rehabilitation process of his injured hip at the time of the draft.
“It was tough,” La Prise said, sitting in the shade at the Bobby Mattick Training Center “Probably one of the hardest things I ever had to go through, it’s not only physically rehabbing your body, but mentally getting used to not being able to do things you normally do.”
Accomplishing the goal he set out for himself while in high school, is one of La Prise’s proudest moments.
“Pure excitement, I felt so lucky and blessed, that I would get the opportunity to play professional baseball” said La Prise.
With the Blue Jays’ recent success in the postseason, the middle infielder had the opportunity to watch the team be embraced by an entire country.
This is a quality that intrigues La Prise, seeing that no other team in the Major Leagues can make that claim.
“I grew up just outside of Philadelphia, the (Phillies) are just the city’s team, but knowing an entire nation is behind one team is pretty special,” said La Prise, who at 22 has a multidimensional skill set. His collegiate career was split between playing infield and outfield positions.
However, the Blue Jays drafted him solely as a second baseman and the transition has been an adjustment, but a challenge he is taking in stride.
Knowing an entire nation is behind one team is pretty special.
“It’s a learning process, all of the idiosyncrasies and footwork to be a professional infielder is definitely different than what I knew before” said the lanky 6-foot-3 player.
La Prise has high aspirations towards becoming a starter in the Major Leagues and, his biggest influence happens to be an integral member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I love Troy Tulowitzki, he was my favourite player growing up. Everything he does I try to emulate, how he carries himself, he is a professional, and he works hard.”