Where did you grow up / born?
Born and raised here in Woodstock, GA
At what age did you start playing baseball?
4 years old at Shaw Park
What positions did you play growing up?
What lead you to your primary position?
Growing up I played a lot of first base and pitcher. As a lefty I was limited to the positions I could play. My freshman year of high school I excelled on the football field and had the opportunity play tailback on the Varsity team. When it came time for tryouts for baseball season that same year, I made the Varsity team, but they already had a senior first basemen who had a scholarship to Georgia Southern. The Varsity coach knew I ran well so he decided to try me out in centerfield. Centerfield came naturally too me and remained my primary position when I wasn’t pitching.
Where did you play summer baseball in high school?
As a 16 year old I played for Coach Guerry Bladwin and the East Cobb Astros. As a 17 and 18 year old I played for coach James Beavers and the East Cobb Yankees.
What is your favorite amateur memory?
When I was 17 years old I played for the East Cobb Yankees. Our team was comprised of some of the best amateur baseball players in the country, we had 5 future big leaguers in Dexter Fowler, Chris Nelson, Blake Wood, Jimmy Barthmaier and Brad Emaus, as well as 12 future MLB Draft Picks. Every player on our team received a college scholarship to play baseball including 12 players going to Georgia Tech. We were playing in the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Tournament at East Cobb when our coach got a call from the director of Team USA Baseball, they wanted to play us. We scheduled a double header during the tournament, we went to Sprayberry High School in Marietta GA to play 18U Team USA where we won 5-4 and then proceeded to go back to East Cobb and win our opening pool play game against an heralded Ohio War Hawks team. It was a fun sight to see all the scouts following our team from Sprayberry back to East Cobb.
Who were the top schools recruiting you to play in college?
Georgia Tech, Clemson, LSU, and UNC
What made you pick your school?
I wanted to stay close to home where my family and friends could see me play. I knew a lot of people in my life had made sacrifices so that I could pursue my dream of playing baseball at the highest level. It didn’t seem fair to me if I went to a school where those people couldn’t watch me play. At that time Georgia Tech was a Top 5 national program who committed a full scholarship too me as the only outfielder in their recruiting class. A great collegiate program with an even better academic background was an opportunity I could not pass up on!
Where did you play summer ball in college?
My freshman year I played in the Cape Cod Collegiate Summer League for the Wareham Gatemen. As a Sophomore I was invited to try out for Team USA’s Collegiate Team but I suffered a collision in the outfield at Boston College that resulted in two cracked ribs and torn labrum. The torn labrum required surgery so I had to sit out that summer and recover.
What is your favorite collegiate memory?
My freshman year at Georgia Tech we were hosting #6 FSU and I had a two-out, two-run single to cap a three-run ninth inning rally that led to a 9-8 victory. It was an amazing feeling to come through in the clutch as a freshman on such a large stage against a great FSU team.
Who drafted you?
San Diego Padres 64th overall in the Supplemental 1st Round of the 2007 MLB Draft
What is your favorite professional memory?
In 2010 I was playing RF in a big league spring training game against the LA Dodgers. The half inning before while we were hitting, their closer Johnathan Broxton hit our LF, Ryan Ludwick. The hit by pitch was on purpose as tempers had been flaring between both teams all spring training. After Ludwick was plunked the next guy struck out to end the inning. We were in the field in the top half of the next inning when our relief pitcher got the first two guys out quickly and then retaliated by hitting Rafael Furcal in the numbers. After hitting Furcal both dugouts started to get riled up even further. Once on first Furcal tried to steal second when our catcher Nick Hundley threw him out to end the inning, but the inning didn’t end. Both managers and dugouts continued to have words that lead to both dugouts clearing in anticipation of a brawl. The umpires were able to restore order and calm everyone down enough to finish the game.
Why did you choose to pursue baseball instruction as a career?
Baseball is a passion of mine and has the ability to open many doors to many opportunities both on and off the baseball diamond. I have been blessed to learn the game and play it at its highest level! Today I have many friends that are still pursuing their dreams of being a big leaguer or have met those dreams already, this allows me further my knowledge of the game so I can share it with today’s youth in hopes that baseball will forward them the same opportunities that it has given me!
Follow Danny on Twitter @DPayne3131