Apparently, if you were at the Arizona Fall League championship game at Scottsdale on Nov. 22, you couldn’t miss them.
They gave the game that “high school football championship drumline” feel … except a lot of people had no clue where the drumming was coming from.
The answer? The Mesa Solar Sox dugout, where Florida Marlins pitching prospect Sean West had put together an impromptu drumline made up of, well, whatever he could get his hands on in the dugout that had a percussive sound. Drafting teammates such as fellow Marlins southpaw Aaron Thompson, West kept the mood light even in the face of the late-inning rally by the opposing Phoenix Desert Dogs who captured the league title. (Many thanks to the always awesome Barbara Jean Germano for this shot!)
The 6-foot-8 West, who goes by the nickname “The Donk” (“as in Donkey,” he added, in case GotMiLB hadn’t figured that out) is a Louisiana native taken by the Marlins as one of five first-round and supplemental-first-round picks back in 2005 (Thompson was one of that quintet as well), a haul which has set them up now with the potential to have one of the best young pitching staffs in the game.
Talk to West, though, and you’ll realize quickly he’d much rather talk about his music than his baseball. Luckily for him, he is immensely gifted in both areas, as GotMiLB learned almost immediately.
One caveat before reading this interview: West’s “persona” is cocky and confident and a lot of it is tongue-in-cheek. When you read something instead of experiencing it live and in person, it’s not always easy to tell which is which. So yeah, he’s cocky. But he’s not a jerk about it. And, as they say, it ain’t bragging if you can do it.
GotMiLB: Everyone has a “hidden talent.” What’s yours?
West: I have many, actually. I am a guitarist, I play the drums and I play piano and I sing. I play in a band called iPod. I do play Rock Band, Guitar Hero, all that good stuff. I am a huge Dave Matthews fan.
GotMiLB: Complete this sentence: It would surprise people to know that …
West: … there is a lot more trapped inside this body than just good looks.
GotMiLB: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?
West: I also like to dance.
GotMiLB: Of what accomplishment, on or off the field, in your life are you the proudest?
West: I guess my ability to teach myself to play all these instruments. I’ve never had a lesson. But if I’m not playing baseball, I’m playing music. That’s my life.
GotMiLB: What do you think you’d be doing now if you weren’t playing baseball?
West: I’d be a rock star. I’ve been playing drums for 11 years so I’d be a drummer and maybe a backup guitarist if it was acoustic night. I wasn’t put on this earth to go to college. I was put here to throw a baseball and be a rock star.
GotMiLB: What one item have you found you cannot live without on the road?
West: My guitar. I have an acoustic Taylor 614-CE. She’s a beauty. Costs a pretty penny but it is so worth it. I have a Fender Stratocaster and a few more. A Takamine acoustic, a Steven Patrick from Canada. This past season I lived at (Marlins pitcher) Taylor Tankersley’s house and he got the EA sports check that everybody gets and took me on a shopping spree at Guitar Center and let me pick out a drum set, a couple of guitars and a space amp. We set his whole garage up. He’s a great guy.
GotMiLB: Which aspect of life in the minors do you find to be the biggest challenge and why?
West: Staying mentally tough as well as physically tough.
GotMiLB: Which aspect of life in the minors has surprised you the most, in comparison to what you might have imagined before you turned pro?
West: The grind of playing baseball every day.
GotMiLB: Who is the most unusual character you’ve met in your pro baseball career?
West: (Marlins pitching prospect) Cristhian Martinez (and yes, that is really how it’s spelled). No matter how bad your day is going he’ll always put a smile on your face.
GotMiLB: Which coach/manager have you had that you think should be in the big leagues?
West: Brandon Hyde, our manager at Jupiter this year. He knows the game and he works pretty freaking hard at it.
GotMiLB: What is the one question you hope you never hear again?
West: Do you play basketball? And how tall are you?
GotMiLB: Where have you played in the Minors?
West: Jamestown, N.Y.; Greensboro, N.C.; Jupiter, Fla.
GotMiLB: On your current or most recent club (Jupiter), what was your favorite thing about playing there?
West: It’s definitely a pitchers’ park, the ball does not fly there.
GotMiLB: If family or friends were coming in to visit, where would you take them on a day off?
West: My family did come for my birthday last year. We spent a lot of time at the beach because in Louisiana we only have brown water. Then we looked at the million-dollar houses down in Palm Beach.
GotMiLB: What has been your least favorite visiting act or promotion?
West: We had a promotion this year where the players were sold to women. No, I’m not kidding. You had to make videos and put yourself out there for the public. I declined.