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Colorado Rockies prospect Correlle Prime ready to break out after a strong winter Down Under

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Correlle Prime struggled in Modesto last summer, but a strong winter in Australia has left the first baseman in a good position entering 2016.

After a strong winter, keep an eye on Correlle Prime in 2016.
After a strong winter, keep an eye on Correlle Prime in 2016.
Caitlyn Rice

Correlle Prime struggled in 2015. He'll tell you as much himself, as he did me when we spoke by phone this week. For Prime, playing in the High-A California League with the Modesto Nuts was, quite frankly, a challenge he hadn't experienced before in professional baseball.

"It was nice to struggle, because you learn a lot about yourself through the process," he said. "You find out who is in your corner, and we had a great staff and a great group of guys who stayed behind me and my teammates throughout the season."

Prime took it all in stride and saw it as an opportunity to improve.

"It's a learning experience for me all around, just being in a new league, in a new state," he continued. "You're seeing new players and some of the same players, you're coming up with guys you kinda know already. I'm just going to try and forget about [2015] and go about my business the way I have been and hope for big things in 2016."

But the 12th round draft pick from 2012 didn't just hope his way to an improved 2016; almost immediately after the summer season ended, he put a plan into action, starting with good work in the Australian Baseball League over the winter.

And despite slashing just .239/.275/.375 for Modesto, Prime simplified his approach, which delivered better results in his temporary home Down Under.

I asked the first baseman if he made any changes to correct his summer struggles before he started playing for the Perth Heat this winter.

"There was no big change, just now I know what type of adjustments I need to make and how quick I need to make them," Prime said. "Don't be as stubborn in your ways and really be open to changes and new ideas and doing things different. I'm not saying that I was stubborn, that's just what I've learned growing up and as a young adult now being 21, a year older."

The willingness to make changes worked out nicely, as the Florida native led the Heat in hitting with a .271 average—a 32-point increase over Prime's summer season. However, that wasn't the focus. Prime told me he never realized he was leading the team, and that it wasn't too important to him, anyways. The focus was on sticking to his plan at the plate and executing it, something that has now helped build his confidence before spring training.

Prime has a clear passion for baseball, and that came through in our conversation. He knows the game well and has an eye for it, proving able to deconstruct the game to its simplest level in a way that makes transitioning from high school to the professional level seem a little less scary.

"Mostly it was just the speed of the game," Prime said of adjusting to pro ball the last several seasons. "It's the same game, but the arms are stronger, guys are faster, and the ball is going farther."

Corelle Prime

Credit: Caitlin Rice

As for the other Rockies prospects playing in Australia, I made sure to ask Prime about them, too. His answers made me think that he might have a future in a front office after his playing days are over, remembering little details about the others, such as injuries. He was complimentary of everyone, but Prime had especially high praise for fellow Rockies farmhand Michael Benjamin. Coincidentally, Ryan McMahon, who played in Modesto in 2015 as well, also recently had high praise for Benjamin in a separate interview with Purple Row.

"It was good for everybody," Prime said of Benjamin, Robbie Perkins, and Alex Balog. "Mike missed a handful of games this past year with a broken hand, and he came back late in the season for [Modesto] and played a few games. Hitting the ball hard just like I know he can, year in and year out. He is a great player."

Prime also spoke highly about Balog, who was 5-2 with a 1.35 ERA in eight starts with the Sydney Blue Sox.

"I faced him two times down in Australia," Prime said. "He threw the ball extremely well and everyone was talking in the dugout about how sharp his stuff was, how much command he had of all three of his pitches."

"He even surprised me a little bit," Prime admits.

As we've repeatedly seen with prospects in the Rockies' organization, they tend to be more complimentary of others' performances ahead of their own. Regarding Balog, Prime was no exception.

"I know [Balog] missed the first part of the year with a groin [injury], but he came and did really well for us too in Modesto the second half of the year," Prime said. "It wasn't a surprise to me. I knew how Balog competed and I know how good his stuff plays. He looked really good down in Australia. I was happy for him."

Prime also spoke highly of Robbie Perkins, arguing the catcher may have just run into a bit of bad luck Down Under, accounting for his slow season.

"We got a nice glimpse of Robbie for Canberra," Prime said. "He was lining out a lot against us, so that might have something to do with his average. He was hitting the ball really hard from what I saw."

Despite his own rough summer, though, Prime remains confident in his ability, and knows that he has the support he needs within the organization. He couldn't be happier to be where he is, with the Rockies, doing the one job he has always wanted to do: playing professional baseball.

"I'm ecstatic," Prime said. "I was ecstatic for the opportunity. All I ever wanted to be was a professional baseball player, so as soon as the Rockies gave me the call I knew what I wanted to do. I had that in my mind, so it was a no-brainer for me."

As for 2016? Correlle Prime is poised to ride the wave from his strong winter into a break out summer, one that will erase from the minds of those following the club a 2015 season he has learned from and left behind.

★ ★ ★

Correlle Prime

Credit: Jen Mac Ramos

More Correlle Prime

On deciding to play in Australia: "I just talked with some of the staff with the Rockies throughout the season. We kind of had a concrete idea of what I needed to improve on and most of it was just getting back into my legs, using the big part of the field, and that was a real simple plan for me. We wanted to keep it simple so that's basically what I went over there to work on."

On his impressions of baseball in Australia: "There are a lot of older guys down in Australia. There's a lot of experience down there, you have some Aussies on your team, and it's ‘who's this guy, who's this guy' and ‘this dude was playing with so-and-so in Double-A.' Stuff-wise, you get a few guys over the course of the weekend who can really pump it up there and have some good offspeed pitches and then other days you'll get some Aussies who have been around, and are in their late 20s and really know how to pitch and get you thinking up there at the plate. It was a real nice mix between those two."

On living in Australia: "The people there are extremely laid back. That was probably the best thing about it to be honest with you. Nobody is in a rush to do anything, nobody is stepping on your heels trying to get places. The ‘no worries' term is very prominent over there and I can see why."

On his approach at the plate: "Stay in the big part of the field. In 2014 I did a really good job of that, and I kind of got away from it playing in Modesto this past year. Just looking for a pitch I can handle and drive to right center or somewhere up the middle hard. You get too pull-conscious and your bat is out of the zone really quick so if I stay middle-away, it sounds cliché but that's just hitting. You hit the ball middle and away up the middle, you got a good chance of playing for a long time."

On keeping with his new hitting approach: "Just trying to stay the course and keep that plan concrete, trying to really believe in it and just do it. Because you know what you have to do, but the hardest thing is just going out and doing it. That's the main thing for me, just stay in the big part of the field and get back to where I was."