VAVEL Exclusive Interview With Three Highly Touted Players: Blake Rutherford, Jordan Butler And Brice Turang
Blake Rutherford after winning a gold medal with the USA 18U national team at the Pan American Championships in La Paz, Mexico. Rutherford played in the championships with Jordan Butler. (Eric Sondheimer)

VAVEL Exclusive Interview With Three Highly Touted Players: Blake Rutherford, Jordan Butler And Brice Turang

Brice Turang (LSU), Jordan Butler (UF) and Blake Rutherford (UCLA) weigh in on their past, preset and future in the life of baseball. The trio conducted an exclusive interview with VAVEL USA.

Evan Petzold

Brice Turang (Class of 2018), Jordan Butler (Class of 2017) and Blake Rutherford (Class of 2016) sat down with VAVEL USA for an exclusive interview. All three ball players have had a great road to the college level, which will be starting for them sooner than later. Turang will head to Louisiana State University, Butler to the University of Florida and Rutherford to the University of California, Los Angeles

Brice Turang

The 6-foot, 155 pound graduate of 2018 named Brice Turang is from Corona, California. He has committed to Louisiana State University (LSU) to continue his career, but he still has some time at Santiago High School

The journey did not start for Turang in high school, however, it started as a young boy. Mainly, Turang was able to build a dream through his father. His dad helped him from a very young age as a coach, but more importantly a dad. When it comes down to motivation, it is all family for Turang.

"I realized that baseball was my dream sport right when I started playing the game, and once I realized I wanted to follow my dad's footsteps," Turang said. "My dads my trainer, my hitting coach, my fielding coach, and also the best dad in the world.

"My motivation is my family they push me to be the best athlete I can be, and to keep me on the right track," Turang said. "Being the youngest of four older sisters is hard because they are all great athletes and they know what it's like, so they always push me and grind me!

"Also my parents are both amazing athletes and amazing human beings and they are my life savers."

According to the Perfect Game High School Class of 2018 Rankings, Turang is ranked number one in the state of California and fifth in the country. Turang has been ranked number one at the shortstop position in the state and across the country. The left-handed hitter, who throws with his right, is very athletic and an all around player.

"My best aspect of my game is just trusting my skills and knowing that I will not lose this battle no matter the circumstances," the current sophomore from Corona, California said. "I love the game and I love the grind! God gave me a gift."

Turang compares himself to Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Turang and Harper can do it all on the field, which is where the comparison was made between the two ball players. Each can hit, run, field and be good teammates on and off the field. Turang produces for his high school and for his summer team, the Playa Vista Orioles.

"I model my game after Bryce Harper. He really inspires me to not only be a great baseball player but to also be a great person off the field, Turang noted. "He's the guy to run out ground balls just like the guy everyone wants to see play!"

Turang spent three games at the varsity level during his freshman year and killed the ball. He picked up nine hits, two doubles, one triple and two RBI across 12 at-bats, which is good for a .750 batting average. The 2018 graduate can obviously play shortstop, but also can do work in the outfield.

Regarding his future, Turang said, "I can't wait to see how my future falls out! God bless!"

Jordan Butler

Butler, who graduates in 2017, has committed to the University of Florida for his college career. The 6-foot-1, 190 pound junior was not able to jump to the varsity level as a freshman, but made his presence felt as a sophomore at Alonso High School in Tampa, Florida. 

All Butler wants to do is make his family proud, especially his parents. Throughout his career, they have pushed him to be every day. The family he loves taught him all about the game from the start. 

"Baseball has always been my dream. Ever since I started playing this game I knew that I loved it. But as time has gone by it has just gotten more serious," Butler said.

At the dish, Butler hit .372 with 35 hits, 14 runs scored, nine doubles and two home runs across 94 at-bats on varsity last season. As a matter of fact, Butler can get it done at the plate and on the mound because he is a dominant pitcher. The left-handed pitcher went 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA across 15 appearances, while picking up three saves in some big time situations. Butler struck out 52 hitters and held opponents to a .151 batting average. Besides pitching, he can partake in the outfield or at first base. 

Because of his play on the mound, Butler believes that he is like Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kershaw competes like no other pitcher, just like Butler. The Alonso High School graduate of 2017 is a born fighter on the field. 

"The biggest aspect of my game is that I compete," Butler commented regarding his effort day in and day out. "I might not have the most overpowering stuff but I will give my all every time I go out on the mound."

Butler was named to the 2014 Pan American Championships 18U roster, which won a gold medal. Butler played alongside 20 others, including Blake Rutherford. The duo helped the United States of America to win a gold medal, but it was not an easy task. 

"The most adversity that I have ever faced was in Japan. We didn't have the best living and eating conditions," Butler said. "But despite that we still found a way to pull it off and win that gold medal."

Butler chose the University of Florida to continue his career. He believes that both the coaching staff and the player development will take him a long way. 

"The reason I chose Florida is because it feels like home. Of course, they have a great program and the player development is the best," said Butler. "But other than all that stuff, it's the place I want to spend my three or four years of college."

Butler was named to the 2015 Underclass 1st Team because of his ability to hit the low 90's with an outstanding breaking ball. The best part is he can hit for both his high school and his summer team, the Florida Burn 2017 Pennant. According to the Perfect Game High School Class of 2017 Rankings, Butler is the top left-handed pitcher in the state of Florida and the second-best lefty in the nation. He will try and prove his rankings with the University of Florida in just a few years.

"Florida is going to help me in every way," the high school left-handed hitter and pitcher mentioned. "Their coaches are the best and they will take care of me. Also there player development is one of the best in the nation, I'm excited to get on campus!"

Blake Rutherford

A graduate of 2016, Rutherford is headed to the University of California, Los Angeles to continue his career. The 6-foot-2, 190 pound senior has one more baseball season at Chaminade College Preparatory

Rutherford played 29 games on varsity as a freshman, seven games as a sophomore and 27 as a junior. He has a career .374 batting average and a .488 on-base percentage with 39 runs scored, four home runs and 26 RBI, but his best season came as a junior. Rutherford hit .435 with 27 hits, two triples, four home runs and 14 RBI across 27 games played. 

It did not take long for Rutherford to realize his love for baseball. He also finds his motivation in himself to become bigger and better every single day. 

"It didn't take me very long to realize baseball was my dream.  I knew ever since I was about six and went to a MLB game that this is exactly what I wanted to be in life," Rutherford said of the dream he possesses today. "To be able to play baseball and call it my job is something I want to do very bad, for nothing compares in my opinion.

"My motivation is to be the best baseball player and person I can be day in and day out.  I want to be able to inspire the younger generations and show them that if you really want to achieve your dreams it is possible if you work hard and surround yourself with the right people."

While Rutherford is dominant as a baseball field, sometimes he has trouble with just playing and having fun. Rutherford just to go out on the diamond and do what he loves. 

"The biggest adversity I need to overcome is just tuning out the media and just playing and having fun," the senior ball player said. "Sometimes kids get too caught up in the media and what everyone is saying and where there ranking is.  I just want to focus on continuing to grow as a baseball player, and if I do that I believe the media will become less distracting."

Speaking of ranking, according to the Perfect Game High School Class of 2016 Rankings, Rutherford has been logged as first in the state of California and first in the state as an outfielder, while being ranked second nationally and first as an outfielder in the country among 2016 graduates. Rutherford made the 2014 Underclass 1st Team and the 2015 Underclass 1st Team.

The Chaminade High School baseball player won a gold medal with the United States of America 18U national team at the 2014 Pan American Championships in La Paz, Mexico. Also, Rutherford is considered one of the top-10 high school prospects for the 2016 MLB Draft. Rutherford, however, is still committed to UCLA. 

Rutherford shows crazy good power and runs very well on the base paths. He shows his potential with the EvoShield Canes, his summer team, and on his high school team. At this point, it is safe to say that Rutherford has superstar potential. 

"I believe I have a very well rounded game, but one thing that has stood out since I was young is my hitting.  I have always had a more natural swing and it is something I work very hard on in the off-season and even in season sometimes," Rutherford said of his success and future abilities. "Also, I think my ability to turn a double into a triple or a single into a double with my speed is a very important aspect to my game."

Because of his well rounded game, Rutherford compares himself to Corey Seager, a shortstop and third baseman, of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Seager was a first round draft pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Dodgers and made his debut this season and hit .337 across 27 big league games. Seager can hit the ball to all parts of the field and respects the game and all players around him on and off the field, just like Rutherford.

"I believe I model Corey Seager because of the way he can hit the ball to all fields with power," Rutherford commented. "Also, the way he carries himself is very similar to how I carry myself.

"He [Seager] is always calm and cool in the tough situation and you can never really tell if he's having a good game or a bad game! That is why I believe he will be very successful in this game, and more and more people are going to take notice of how special of a player he is."

On to Rutherford's college career, he chose UCLA for many reasons. He fell in love with the feel of the campus and enjoyed the atmosphere. A huge factor was coach John Savage and coach Rex Peters, who helped to graduate Daniel Descalso of the Colorado Rockies to the MLB. Savage is a tremendous coach with class and precision. The biggest reason, however, was the education of UCLA. The future is bright for Rutherford and the UCLA baseball team. 

"UCLA can help me become a better baseball player because I will become more educated on the game," said Rutherford. "I feel like with coach Savage, coach Peters and coach Bryant Ward, they will continue to help me develop my all around game and also continue to help me develop my mental game.

"All three of those coaches are extremely successful and respected and have been for a very long time."