There are a lot of challenges that come with being a day one pick in the MLB draft, but Logan Ice seems more than ready to face all comers.
A 2016 second round compensatory pick out of Oregon State, Ice was one of only three position players from last year’s draft to begin the 2017 campaign in full-season ball, and he’s been thriving.
Always patient at the plate, Ice is among the organization’s leaders in walks, and his bat is starting to come around as well, cutting down his strikeouts significantly despite being promoted.
While Francisco Mejia may get all the catching prospect love, Ice definitely has the makings of a player who can contribute at the Major League level.
Ice spoke with Let’s Go Tribe about being a leader, catching the organization’s top pitching prospects and Kiefer Sutherland in this exclusive interview.
Brian Hemminger (Let’s Go Tribe): Did you always want to be a baseball player growing up?
Logan Ice: I think I wanted to be a baseball player but I didn’t really know if it was realistic. I always had a dream of making a career out of sports, but I don’t think I had a specific sport in mind at the time.
Brian Hemminger: When you need a break from baseball, what’s your go-to activity?
Logan Ice: Video games like “The Show,” pretty much all sports games as well as outdoor stuff. I like hiking, going out on the lake, fishing, you name it, as long as its outside.
Brian Hemminger: Are there any TV shows you can’t get enough of right now?
Logan Ice: I just finished watching Designated Survivor with Kiefer Sutherland. Me and my roommate are rewatching “24” as well. You can’t go wrong with Kiefer Sutherland, he’s awesome.
Brian Hemminger: You’re super proud of your Oregon State roots, and I think they won the Pac-12 this year. What are your thoughts on how they’re doing this year?
Logan Ice: It’s pretty impressive what they’re doing. I’m kinda a little bit bitter sometimes because you’re a year late, but it’s awesome to see. I spent a lot of time at that school with those coaches and those guys and it’s awesome to see them doing so well and having the years that I always thought they could have and would have.
Brian Hemminger: You went from being undrafted out of high school to being a second round compensatory pick in 2016. What do you think were the biggest developments for you that sort of put you on the map?
Logan Ice: I think over time my body matured a little bit, I matured a little bit and kind of understood what it meant to be a winner instead of just going out there to go out there. I don’t think it was one thing. I think I always had the tools per se, but I don’t think mentally I was ready out of high school to sign or even get looked at. College was very good for me just for the maturing process and getting a jumpstart on my education. It worked out how it was supposed to work out.
Brian Hemminger: I’ve noticed that you seem to have a real keen interest in the Statcast era. What do you take from all the new numbers and have they helped you make any adjustments in your game?
Logan Ice: I think that with the more stuff that comes out that proves itself to be true, it would be kind of ignorant to not listen to it. But it’s also a fine line. You can’t solely rely on that stuff. To be honest, whether I use it or not, I find it interesting, whether for personal gain or not. I’m kind of a numbers nerd so I find it really interesting and it is what it is.
Brian Hemminger: As the catcher of the team, you’re kind of the team leader. You’re the quarterback out there on the field. So what goes into being a team leader? Are you building relationships outside of the park, or is it more about confidence and leading by example when the games start?
Logan Ice: I think I do it more on the field. I’ve never been a big verbal leader. It’s always kind of been my actions speaking for me. It’s harder in pro ball than it was in college because we have a lot of people that don’t speak English and there are high school kids who haven’t been through that maturing process that a college guy has.
That’s not to say they can’t learn or they don’t have the ability, but at times it can be hard to relate to some of these guys because they come from a different place not speaking my language.
The biggest thing for me is the pitching staff. The more I invest in them, I think they see that and the more they trust me. That’s my goal, those are the guys I really try to hit home with. If I’m on the same page with them a lot, then I think our team will success a lot.
Brian Hemminger: How do you overcome the language barrier? Several guys in your bullpen don’t speak English.
Logan Ice: We’ve got some bilingual Latin American players who help out and some of them are coming along with the simple things like pitcher/catcher lingo like “Inside, outside, fastball, slider, change-up” those kind of words and I can piece them together for them when I need to. There’s guys that are translating for me and for the most part, these guys knows what’s going wrong or right when they’re going good or bad. It’s a work in progress.
Brian Hemminger: You’ve worked with some seriously highly touted arms, with Triston McKenzie last year and then at the beginning of this year, all five members of your opening day starting rotation were ranked in the top 30 Indians prospects. All of these guys have different styles as well. Hillman is more finesse, Miniard is power, Civale is all about command and both Garza and Aiken are trying to get back from Tommy John surgery. How do you manage all that?
Logan Ice: It’s a work in progress definitely. The better I get to know them, the more I can help them and I’m starting to get there a little bit. In college, you have all fall to get to know your teammates and their personalities, how their stuff moves and whatnot. It’s gonna take some time. I’m lucky enough that Aaron Civale is my roommate and we really hit it off and we’re pretty good friends now. I would say he’s on the same wavelength with me, but the other guys, it takes some time and I have to start figuring out what makes them tick, why it makes them tick and what it takes to get them most comfortable.
Editor’s note, Aaron Civale was promoted to High-A Lynchburg since this interview and Justin Garza was placed on the disabled list since this interview took place.
Brian Hemminger: It seems like Juan Hillman, after a very slow start, is beginning to turn things around. Do you feel that chemistry starting to click, what’s your take?
Logan Ice: I’m there to help the pitcher as much as I can, but in the end, it’s on those guys. Juan’s done a lot of work to try to get his body in the right position to throw the ball a bit harder than he had been and we’re seeing some improvements on that and as a result of that, we’re also seeing more strike throwing which is making it easier for the catching core to call pitches knowing he’s not just a one dimensional pitcher. It makes our job a lot easier when we know a lot of strikes are going to be thrown.
Brian Hemminger: What’s it like working with someone like Brady Aiken, a player who was the first overall pick in 2014 and then a first round pick in 2015? Some are worried about him because of his walks, although command is the last thing to come back after Tommy John surgery. What’s your assessment?
Logan Ice: He’s a really hard worker. I don’t think it’s fair for me to say whether he’s going to make it or if he’s in a good spot or whatnot. Tommy John shuts you down for a while and puts you in a real foreign position not being able to throw for a year plus if not more than that. It can be closer to a two-year period for some people not throwing a baseball and if that happens, your body doesn’t know where it’s at and your body awareness isn’t very good.
It’s slowly coming back for him and I don’t think it’ll be like overnight a switch gets flipped. I think it’s gonna be a slow progress for him. You can see it little by little if you compare his first start to his last start he just had. The misses that he has aren’t as big. The command around the zone, the yank pitches, the cut pitches aren’t as many which is a good thing and his demeanor is starting to change a bit which is good to see.
Brian Hemminger: You’ve been praised for your defense ever since you were first drafted. What goes into being a strong defensive catcher?
Logan Ice: I’ve always prided myself on being the best defender I can be. I think defense, I’ve always thought defense and pitching are going to win you games especially when you get to the higher levels. If you have a good pitching staff and defense, and you have catchers calling good games and keeping the ball in front and throwing guys out, you’re gonna win a lot of baseball games.
Hitting kind of comes and goes as you can tell, even .300 hitters get out a bunch of times and a lot of guys aren’t hitting .300 anymore. It’s one of those things where I always took pride in winning those 1-0 games or 2-1 or if it’s the ninth inning and a guy wants to run on a ball in the dirt but I was able to stop it.
Brian Hemminger: You’ve quickly become one of the most patient hitters in the Indians farm system, among the leaders in the organization in walks. What goes into being a patient hitter, it is just having a good eye at the plate, or is there more to it?
Logan Ice: I think I’ve always had that, even my freshman year of college. The numbers statistically weren’t there but I was like top 20 in walks even then. I think the biggest thing is not being afraid to strike out. I’m not uncomfortable with two strikes and it’s not the end of the world if I strike out so I’m not scared to take pitches. It’s about being comfortable with any count and not having fear up there.
Brian Hemminger: I spoke with Akron coach Mark Budzinsky earlier this year about pitch framing and he mentioned that the Indians organization was putting a focus on that with their catchers. What, to you, helps a catcher properly frame a pitch?
Logan Ice: Basically, it’s having all your movements going back towards the plate, showing the umpire that even if it was off a little bit, perhaps moving it slightly back towards the plate so they think it was on the plate. It’s all about utilizing all of your movements towards the strike zone to make a pitch seem closer to the plate than it actually was. That’s really the basics of it.
Brian Hemminger: Did you have any goals for this season, and if so, how close do you feel you are to reaching them?
Logan Ice: I had some goals, but the most important one is health. I need to stay on the field and if I can do that, it’ll be a good year both for me and the pitchers. Staying on the field is not easy, everyone has their nicks and bruises and they can be banged up so if you can just stay healthy and keep your body right, it’ll be a good year.
Logan would like to thank his family as well as Eric for the work this offseason. You can follow Logan on Twitter @LoganIce33