Justin’s Playing Days

Being drafted by the Cardinals as the first overall pick - how special was that moment? What do you remember most about that period?

Ah man, it was, it was awesome.  just my parents and everything they sacrifice and then the nurturing they had to do, the work that my dad put in to groom us into players, me and my brother also. It was a special moment. It was like a full circle moment. So just really enjoyed the moment with my family and friends and after that, I mean, it was a little while before I got to go play, but it was it was back to work at that point.

On His Brother B.J.’s Influence

He paved the way for me. Not only put helped put Virginia on the map, our home state, but also I was in the background going, “Hey, I'm here too” while he was going through the process. So he kind of put me on the map also. So I have to give him some credit. But at the same time I did beat him.

On his parents sacrifices

They were always putting us first. So it was if there was something financially it needed to be done at home but there was a tournament that we needed to play in, I don’t know if it was the smartest move in the world, but they always sacrifice their wants for our needs, and putting us in the right positions and putting us in the right situations to succeed.

On finally reaching Major League Baseball

I remember that call. I remember not getting any sleep that night, trying to catch an early flight to San Diego. And I remember just as a whole, just being nervous about the opportunity. Obviously something you wait for your whole life, but actually it happening and you have to perform. And there's definitely some nerves there. But the jitters were something I had to shake, because we were kind of in the same situation. This year's team is where a lot of young guys playing well, in the playoff hunt. And  when you get to the big leagues, it's business. So you have to you have to perform. And I just remember it being probably one of the better times in my life. Some of the young guys that I came up with are still friends today, which you don't know at that time, but you're making lifelong friends.

You established yourself as one of the best young outfielders in the game quickly - and even though the team had mixed success during that period, you must still look back fondly at your time in Arizona?

I think throughout my career I thought back on coaching moments. Some of the good coaches, great coaches I had coming up and Bob Melvin to this day is still one of my favorite managers that I've played for. Just the way that it, also some of my older teammates, that kind of showed me what being a major leaguer was all about. Some of those relationships were all in the Arizona Diamondbacks uniform. So I look back on the player I was molded into by the coaches. Arizona was the starting point of that. And I was I'm grateful that I had that opportunity.

Who was the best pitcher you faced during your career?

I have to break that into two separate. I think the best overall picture I faced, throughout my career was Clayton Kershaw. I don't know why he didn't never let up on me, but all throughout my career, I always had tough at bats against them. But yeah, Clayton Kershaw's got to be my number one. But as far as stuff, I mean, it's a shame that he won't be pitching. He didn't pitch in the playoffs, but Jacob deGrom is a special talent. He's probably the most electric pitcher I faced. If he can stay healthy, and baseball needs guys like that, because he's a generational talent on the mound. I just hope he gets healthy and shows everybody that he's that guy.

2023 World Series Preview

Both of these teams lost more than 100 games two seasons ago, and were only marginally better last year - does it seem as though in modern day baseball franchises can turn around their forunes far more quickly than in the past? (Texas spent a lot of money, whilst Arizona young talent)

Well, I think the D-backs, they were waiting on some young talent which finally showed up and played well. I see some of these organizations now and they're starting to draft not only high ceiling talent, but high floor talent with guys that they know are going to play at the big league level and can contribute. And also guys that can not only contribute at a big league level, but if they if they mature properly, they're going to turn into superstars guys like Corbin Carroll. So, I think that they had an influx of young talent and also brought in some veteran pieces. I love the Tommy Pham move, bringing him in, a guy with a little bit of edge to him. Evan Longoria also, a guy who's played in the playoffs, veteran presence. They brought in the right pieces, but we have young players who turned out to be good major leaguers. On the other hand, Texas. I think Texas, they signed two of the more professional players a few years ago with Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. I think those guys have changed. Not only the face that lineup, but just the face of the clubhouse, the face of the organization. I think the way those guys go about their businesses, that’s the way you want to see it as a front office. They have pitching and when you're pitching, pitching wins ballgames. I love the addition of Jordan Montgomery, just a solid, solid pitcher, who when he gets hot, he can pitch like he has lately. In addition to Scherzer, kind of anchor to the rotation. I think they did a good job at the trade deadline. I mean, they already had the pieces in place to go around with Seager and Semien.

The D-Backs haven't been to a World Series since they won it in 2001, and have only been to the playoffs 5 times in that period - what will this mean to the fanbase there?

Even when I was playing there a long time ago, 10 to 12 years ago. When I was playing there, you always heard the buzz about “Wow, well, back in 2001, back in 2001. We love that team.” So they've been kind of hanging on to that 2001 World Series team. I think they needed a new team, a new team to rally behind. I think they've been hungry for this run for 22 years. So I think the fans are hungry. It's gonna mean a lot to him to have the World Series here in town. They've been waiting for a long time. So I'm hoping people show up and give that home field advantage.

Arizona has been outsiders in every series this post-season and it will be no different in the World Series - would that underdog mentality be something the clubhouse would be thriving on?

I think these guys are just young enough and have enough edge about them that it could work in their favor. They've been underdogs in every series of this playoffs too, and they've proven the doubters wrong. I don't see this being different. I mean if it does go the other way to Texas, which everybody thinks it will, I mean, it's because Texas was a little more of a veteran team and they outperform them. But I think that's definitely an advantage to be the underdog.

Likely NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll looks special - is he set to be the face of the franchise for years to come?

They guy has come in, had the success he's had, performance in the biggest spots you could possibly be in in baseball. Last night's performance and throughout the playoffs. When you look at it on paper, he looks like the perfect face of your franchise and throughout people in baseball come into contact with him, I personally haven't but you hear great things here. He prepares well, he sleeps, eats and breathes baseball. He's a baseball guy. So I think what we're seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. I think he's going to be- I think he should be in Arizona for a long time. And I think he's gonna be a pretty special to player.

How unusual has the rise of Adolis Garcia been (he just broke the record for RBI's in a post-season series with 15 vs Astros) given he was a 28yo rookie just three seasons ago?

I played in the same division just a few years ago. You could see the talent there. I think for some people it just takes longer to make those adjustments but the talent was 100% always there. I remember games he had against us when I was in Anaheim. I was like “this guy special”. But to put it all together, it's a little bit tougher and I think it's coming together for him. Whether it's you know 22 years old or you know 31, it doesn't matter as long as you put it together at some point and what do you what he did this past series, obviously it's a record but he’s kind of anchor in that team and getting them to a World Series was fun to watch.

2023 World Series Picks and Predictions

What's the prediction for Game 1 in Texas?

Oh, it's been a while since the Rangers have been in the World Series. I think the crowd will be excited. I think there'll be some nerves on the Arizona side and the veteran presence over there in that Texas Rangers clubhouse, I think they take game one.

Who wins it all and what will the series result be?

I think the Texas Rangers win the World Series on the backs of their pitching. You know I think that their pitching has been pretty good throughout the playoffs and I think the series ends 4-2.

Who ends up being the World Series MVP?

I just love watching Corey Seager. I think he ends up being the guy. Went through a quick cold spell last series but I think his bat starts to heat up and he's probably the reason they win it all.

Which other players are you expecting a big series from?

I'm waiting for Christian Walker to get hot. Great hitter. I think he's going to probably break out this series. Obviously, Corbin Carroll. Look for Gurriel to be kind of a staple of their lineup. I think he's going to hit. Obviously got Semien. Garcia, I don't know if he can keep doing what he did last series but I think he's a big piece of it and my guy at first base, why am I drawing blank? Lowe. Love Lowe. He's gonna be cool as a cucumber in that in that hostile atmosphere and I think he's going to be serious.

Bet on World Series Odds at Betway

Find World Series odds throughout the season on the Betway sportsbook. You'll find all the latest run lines, totals, money lines, parlays and MLB futures. Or call it how you see it with our live betting in-play. All your MLB betting needs are covered in our online sportsbook.

Visit Betway’s MLB picks page for best bets and predictions throughout the season.