From a Vulcan to a Philly

Jordan Kurokawa on His Transition to the Major Leagues

Sports Writer Eric Vega

Photo Courtesy of Hawaii Tribune-Herald

As a child, Jordan Kurokawa’s first live experience with major league baseball was at a Philadelphia Phillies game. Throughout the years, he remained faithful to his favorite team. In the 28th Round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, the stars aligned for Kurokawa: he was ultimately selected by the Philadelphia Phillies. Ke Kalahea recently spoke with Kurokawa, in order to glean insight on his transition from college baseball to the major leagues.

Jordan Kurokawa on the Mound

Q: What was your initial thoughts and emotions when you got your name called on Draft Day?

A: It took a while for it to actually sink in. My dad yelled that I got drafted from downstairs and my mom started going crazy. She was jumping all around and I was getting hugs from my girlfriend and mother. But to be honest, it never really hit me until I was on the plane the next day on my way to Florida to sign my contract… it really started to sink in that my childhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player was actually coming true. All the dedication and hard work paid off.

Q: What was your first day like playing as a rookie for the Phillies?

A: My first day was full of blood tests, physicals and orientation. I was extremely tired from the 12-hour travel day and 6-hour time difference. I became a zombie for that first week while I was trying to adjust to the time difference. But It was really amazing to be among the top 30 picks in the country that the Philadelphia Phillies selected. I believe getting settled in during the first week was the hardest part of the transition. I actually got sick because of a faulty air conditioner inside my room so I moved rooms. I got paired up with a solid roommate on that switch and had a great year with him.

Q: Being from Hawai‘i, what are some of the major changes you had to adapt to in Florida?

A: At first I had to adjust to the time difference. That was tough for me being six hours ahead of Hawai‘i. It actually took some time to get used to. I was barely getting any sleep in that first week. Waking up every two hours throughout the night was not fun. The next adjustment was to the weather. Florida is a very hot and muggy place like Hilo, but unlike Hilo, it is [in] 95 degree heat and 90 percent humidity. Hilo's hottest and muggiest day can barely compare to the intensity of the swamp heat. Lastly, I had to get adjusted to waking up at 6 a.m. to start my day. The days start early and last forever. My day started at 6 a.m. and finished at 4 p.m. in the Florida heat. That is a tough task and you really have to love what you're doing.

Q: Playing at UH Hilo for five years, what are some of the differences you’ve noticed now that you’re playing the game professionally?

A: Everything is different out here. At UH Hilo, I would always hold myself accountable and go the extra mile in my work ethic. Now I'm surrounded by people with the same work ethic and mindset. The program is extremely well-run. The staff runs it professionally and with extreme precision. Every day is planned out, everything is carefully thought about and is executed with purpose. The routine never changes, we do everything on our schedule daily, and repeat it for six days out of the week. Sometimes it really amazes me how the management can keep track of every moving part in the organization. There are no loose ends here.

Q: How have you changed - both as a player and as a person - since being drafted by the Phillies?

A: Professional baseball has changed me in a lot of ways, but I'm still myself. Of course, you are expected to be a professional in every sense of the meaning. From on the field, to in the clubhouse, and especially in the community. Pitching wise, I am very different than who I was six months ago. My mechanics have sped up, and my delivery is more deliberate and aggressive. I'm working everyday on improving my pitches and fine tuning my mechanics. This rookie season has been a long grind, and I'm so extremely grateful to have this opportunity. It is now about what I do with it. The draft is in the past. It was great, but it is not a big deal anymore. Now it is about what I do with the opportunity I have been given. I'm working hard every day to make sure that I can stick around in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and live out my childhood dream…