Results tagged ‘ Arizona Fall League ’

Q and A With Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver was drafted by the Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2014 draft, after posting a 2.62 ERA over 16 starts his final year at Florida State University.Weaver

Since the draft, Weaver has been even more remarkable, holding a 2.12 ERA over the course of two seasons of pro ball, including a stunning 1.62 ERA in 2015.

For his efforts this past season, Weaver was chosen to participate in the Arizona Fall League where he continued to work towards being the caliber of pitcher that he’s capable of becoming.

Many believe it won’t be all that long before Weaver makes it to the majors. With the stats he’s posted, it would seem that Weaver is certainly poised to be on the fast track. He holds a good fastball and a changeup that many scouts marvel at, as well as a slider that he’s been working on. If Weaver can continue to put it all together, he should be pitching for St. Louis before all is said and done.

Luke Weaver — top prospect in the Cardinals’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I want to say around 5 years old. Those memories are a little blurring. My biggest influence was my dad. He was always there no matter what and spent countless hours helping me get better. It didn’t matter what he had going on, he would always make time for me.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

I can’t say I ever had one die-hard favorite player. I always enjoyed watching a bunch of players. If I had to say one it would be Juan Pierre. I loved watching him use his speed to make things happen. He’s a low key guy, who is a Christ follower and went about his business the right way. He’s very involved in the community, and is a great role model all the way around.

3.) Back in your college days at FSU, you had the opportunity to pitch for the 2013 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. What was the overall experience of that like? What did you take away from playing with some of the best college talent from around the country?

That experience was amazing. It was such an honor, not only getting to play with some of the best collegiate players out there but to wear the country’s colors. I took a lot away from it. Being able to pick their brains about all kinds of things was really insightful. Getting to mesh with the fun personalities was a blast as well.

4.) You were drafted by the Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2014 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

That process was exciting but also nerve racking. Not knowing what the future had planned was a moment where I had to rely on God and trust in His plan. It meant a lot that I was able to have my family, fiancé, her family and friends join me in that moment. My thoughts were thoughtless. It was such a surreal moment where reality vanishes for a short period a time and I’m thinking, “Did that just happen?”. Just an awesome night!

5.) Although you can still crank it up when needed, your fastball has seen an overall drop from consistent mid-90’s in early college to lower 90’s now in the minors. How (if at all) has that decrease in velocity impacted your approach when going after hitters?

When you get into professional baseball you learn that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw. There are so many guys who have electric arms, so for hitters it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. I went through a time frame where my velocity dropped due to fatigue from a long season. It’s all back now, but it is something I’ve been working on to see where I am comfortable pitching at; where I can be consistently efficient and have full command of all my pitches. It’s all part of the process to be the best pitcher I can be.

6.) You were selected to participate in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. What type of things did you work on out there to improve as a pitcher moving forward?

I worked on a couple of things. First off trying to get these hitters out. They are super advanced and they make hitting seem like it’s the easier thing out of the two. I’m always trying to work on command, but mainly staying at the bottom of the strike zone. I also worked on a slider that is coming along very nicely and will be a huge boost too for me.

7.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?

Definitely try to steer clear, but if there is one stat that I try to stay attentive to it is walks. Nothing drives me more crazy than walking people.

8.) What do you feel went well in 2015? What are your goals for 2016?

I think throwing a lot of strikes and keeping the walks down was a huge part of it. Good things tend to happen when you can stay on top of those two things. I’ve spent a lot of time in bullpens and just playing catch to repeat my mechanics. The more comfortable and less I have to think about those things, the more I can concentrate on throwing it over the plate. [Goals for 2016 are] to continue to glorify God and the platform He has given. None of this is possible without Him. Keep growing as a pitcher and to learn some more as I go. Simple as that. Never a time when you can’t learn something and get better.

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

Big ‘Modern Family’ guy, but more of a variety than a particular one. [For food] I would go anything Asian. They got the good figured out.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

My advice to them is to have as much fun as possible but make sure you’re working hard along the way. Practice doesn’t make you perfect, it makes you better. Believe in yourself and remember to give God the Glory no matter what.

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Big thanks to Luke Weaver for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @DreamWeava7

2015 Arizona Fall League TTM Requests Update

Around two months ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up. Of the seven total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:

LEWIS BRINSON — TEXAS RANGERS ORGANIZATION

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A former first round draft pick back in 2012, and currently ranked as the number 65 prospect in all of baseball, Lewis Brinson has a very bright future ahead of him in the minds of many people around the baseball world. At just 21 years old, Brinson has zipped through the minors, making it all the way to Triple-A in 2015. This past season, Brinson combined to hit .332 to go along with 20 homers, 69 RBI’s and 18 stolen bases. Brinson truly has a number of tools that will ultimately take him to the big leagues as soon as 2016.

A.J. REED — HOUSTON ASTROS ORGANIZATION

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A.J. Reed had one of the best seasons, if not THE best season, in all of minor league baseball in 2015. As if hitting .340 over the course of 523 at-bats isn’t enough to make you look at Reed as a future big league, he also was able to blast 34 homers while racking up 127 runs batted in. Another future star player in a long line of Astros players that has included George Springer and Carlos Correa in recent history, Reed will likely be making an impact for Houston in the very near future. He will definitely be worth keeping an eye on as the years go on.

AUSTIN MEADOWS — PITTSBURGH PIRATES ORGANIZATION

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As the ninth overall pick of the 2013 draft, Austin Meadows has long been seen as a future major impact player at the big league level. Between two levels in 2015, Meadows hit a cool .310 to go along with seven homers and 55 RBI’s in addition to 21 stolen bases. While injuries have held him back in the past, Meadows can really light things up when fully healthy. While the Pirates’ outfield is currently well stocked, if Meadows becomes the player he’s capable of, he could be forcing their hand in the next few years.

I still have autograph requests out for Josh Hader, Brett Phillips, Dominic Smith and Alex Reyes. When/if I get any of those back I’ll be sure to post another update. Although there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.

2015 Arizona Fall League TTM Autograph Requests

We’re just a few days into the 2015 MLB postseason, but it’s certainly been exciting so far. A lot of unexpected and equally exciting things are sure to take place over the course of the coming weeks, and it will be something worth watching to see which teams perform as predicted and which teams fail to live up to their full potentials.

afl_logoHowever, regardless of that, I’m not going to discuss anything related to the playoffs in this blog post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the Arizona Fall League. More specifically, the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests that I’m sending out to various participating players.

Taking place every October/November — this year it’s October 13th through November 14th — the Arizona Fall League (AFL) provides top Minor League players who didn’t get a full season of playing time, for one reason or another, a chance to show their organization what they can do, as well as provide them with a little more baseball experience. With several of this year’s MLB All-Stars being former AFL players, the best of the best certainly travel through the fall league.

I usually only send off autograph requests in March, for Spring Training, and October, for the Arizona Fall League. Some people send requests to players throughout the season, however, I’ve never really wanted to do that — they’re too busy going around from ballpark to ballpark. In Spring Training and the Arizona Fall League players stay in the same relative area for over a month. In my mind, that provides a better chance of success.

There is a ton of great talent in this year’s Fall League, but I’m not sending to all of them. That would take dozens of stamps to complete, and I simply don’t want to put the money and time into addressing all of those envelopes, only to receive back a few. Last year I sent six autograph requests to the AFL and got back just three. Therefore, I’m only sending to a select group of players this time around, beginning with Josh Hader, Lewis Brinson, A.J. Reed, Brett Phillips, Austin Meadows, Dominic Smith and Alex Reyes.

All of those players have bright futures ahead in the big leagues. In addition, they all have a history of signing through the mail for people. While that doesn’t guarantee that they will sign during the fall league, I’m willing to take that chance.

I may or may not send off a few more requests in the next couple of weeks, depending on who is signing for people. But no matter what, I plan to post an update every time I receive back a few autographs, as I did this year during Spring Training; assuming I get any autographs back at all. So be sure to check back over the next few months to see updates of the autographs I successfully receive.

2014 Arizona Fall League TTM Requests Update

Around a month ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up. Of the seven total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:

DANIEL ROBERTSON — ATHLETICS’ ORGANIZATION

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Daniel Robertson is the number one prospect in the Athletics’ organization, and the number eighty-five prospect in all of baseball. At just 20 years old, Robertson still has plenty of time to develop into the future big league star that many feel he’s destined to become, but he made great strides towards that in 2014. Batting .310 with 15 home runs and 60 RBI’s on the year, Robertson will be a big part of the A’s future.

JACE PETERSON — PADRES’ ORGANIZATION

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Jace Peterson (who, unfortunately, signed this card in ink pen) is no longer a top prospect for the Padres, however, he is expected to be a big part of their team moving forward. Going back and forth between the majors and Triple-A this season, Peterson’s bat didn’t stick in the big leagues, batting just .113 in 53 at-bats, but his glove and speed should allow him to stick with the Padres starting in 2015 while his bat catches up.

LANCE PARRISH — FORMER MLB ALL-STAR

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No longer playing, Lance Parrish is currently the manager for the Glendale Desert Dogs. The former first round draft pick and eight-time MLB All-Star, Parrish blasted 324 home runs and recorded a couple hundred hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Winning six career silver slugger awards, and picking up two gold gloves, Parrish may not be an all time great, but he was a solid player in his day.

I still have autograph requests out for Hunter Renfroe, Byron Buxton, Trevor Story and Brandon Nimmo. When/if I get any of those back I’ll be sure to post another update. Although there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.

2014 Arizona Fall League TTM Autograph Requests

We’re just a few days into the 2014 MLB postseason, but it’s certainly been exciting so far. A lot of unexpected and equally exciting things are sure to take place over the course of the coming weeks, and it will be something worth watching to see which teams perform as predicted and which teams fail to live up to their full potentials.

afl_logoHowever, regardless of that, I’m not going to discuss anything related to the playoffs in this blog post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the Arizona Fall League. More specifically, the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests that I’m sending out to various participating players.

Taking place every October/November — this year it’s October 7th through November 15th — the Arizona Fall League (AFL) provides top Minor League players who didn’t get a full season of playing time, for one reason or another, a chance to show their organization what they can do, as well as provide them with a little more baseball experience. With several of this year’s MLB All-Stars being former AFL players, the best of the best certainly travel through the fall league.

I usually only send off autograph requests in March, for Spring Training, and October, for the Arizona Fall League. Some people send requests to players throughout the season, however, I’ve never really wanted to do that — they’re too busy going around from ballpark to ballpark. In Spring Training and the Arizona Fall League players stay in the same relative area for over a month. In my mind, that provides a better chance of success.

There is a ton of great talent in this year’s Fall League, but I’m not sending to all of them. That would take dozens of stamps to complete, and I simply don’t want to put the money and time into addressing all of those envelopes, only to receive back a few. Last year I sent seventeen autograph requests to the AFL and got back six. That’s right — six. Therefore, I’m only sending to a select group of players this time around, beginning with Hunter Renfroe, Jace Peterson, Byron Buxton, Lance Parrish, Daniel Robertson and Trevor Story.

All of those players (with the exception of Parris) have bright futures ahead in the big leagues, and Lance Parrish had a successful major league career already. In addition, they all have a history of signing through the mail for people. While that doesn’t guarantee that they will sign during the fall league, I’m willing to take that chance.

I may or may not send off a few more requests in the next couple of weeks, depending on who is signing for people. But no matter what, I plan to post an update every time I receive back a few autographs, as I did this year during Spring Training; assuming I get any autographs back at all. So be sure to check back over the next few months to see updates of the autographs I successfully receive.

Q and A With Cody Asche

Cody Asche was drafted by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. Since the draft, Asche has had a good deal of success, flying through the minor leagues — never spending a full season at any one level — and making his Major League Baseball debut in July of 2013.Untitled

After somewhat of a disappointing professional baseball debut in 2011, where he batted .192 with 2 home runs and 19 RBI’s in 78 games, Asche began climbing through the ranks at the start of the 2012 season.

In 2012, Asche posted a batting average of .324 with 12 homers and 72 RBI’s, between High-A and Double-A, before finishing out the year in Arizona as a member of the annual Arizona Fall League.

Following the great season, Asche recorded 15 home runs and 68 RBI’s the next year, to go along with a .295 batting average, earning him a callup to the majors after the All-Star break. In 50 games with the Phillies, before the end of the 2013 season, Asche blasted 5 homers and drove in 22 runs, proving why he was able to make it there so quickly.

Heading into what’s going to be Asche’s first full season in the major leagues, Asche should continue to get better and better as he gains experience, and will likely be playing the hot corner in Philadelphia for years to come.

Cody Asche — third baseman for the Phillies — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I would say really young, around five to six. I loved playing it in the backyard with my brother and my dad. So they have to be the two who influenced me the most.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

Ken Griffey Jr. He was a superstar. He did it all and played the game the right way.

3.) You were drafted by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

It was very stressful. Not knowing what lies ahead can be stressful, especially when you are trying to play a college season. I found out in my kitchen. We had the draft audio on and my mom and dad were with me when my name was called. Initially, thoughts were excitement, and happiness that the process was over.

4.) After getting drafted, you were assigned to Single-A and placed at second base. Having played third base up until that point, you didn’t have a very successful (half) season. However, in 2012, you were moved back to third, and did very well. Having excelled ever since, what is it about third base that makes you more comfortable?

I’m not sure it’s only third that made me feel comfortable. I think it was more just learning the ropes and getting comfortable in pro ball. Hitting wise, success is all about comfort. When you struggle it’s because something doesn’t feel right and you aren’t comfortable. So after the first year I worked on some things to help improve that, and I have been able to do well since.

5.) Your great 2012 season was capped off with an invitation to the Arizona Fall League, where you once again posted good numbers, earning you a spot on the Western Division roster of the Rising Stars game. What was that experience like? What did you take away from it?

The Arizona Fall League was awesome. I was fortunate enough to be a guy that got to play four days a week down there, so I could really work on my game. I definitely credit that time period for setting me up for a good 2013 campaign.

6.) Starting the 2013 season at Triple-A, you made your major league debut in July. What kind of emotions did you experience during your debut?

Emotions were crazy. Trying to hold back tears seeing your parents in the stands for the first time was tough, then playing on top of that made it a little crazy to start. But that is all part of it. I think the phone call I got to make to my parents the day I was called up was the most memorable part of making it up last year.

7.) What’s it like playing under Ryne Sandberg (a baseball Hall of Famer)?

He’s a great person. I think that stands out to me the most. It seems like he sincerely cares about the players, and especially myself. I think all managers have a way of showing that to their players.

8.) What do you feel went well in 2013? What are your goals for 2014?

I think in 2013 I was able to improve a ton. That’s what I really care about, just improving on a daily basis. As far as 2014 is concerned, I would like to be healthy and keep learning and finding my niche on the team so I can contribute to a winner in Philly.

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

TV show: Parks and Recreation. Food: Chicken parm.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

Don’t sell yourself short. No matter what position or level you are at, keep faith and confidence in yourself and keep improving. Never lose your own self confidence. ——————————————————————————————————————————————

Big thanks to Cody Asche for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @cody_smasche

Arizona Fall League TTM Requests Update #2

Several weeks ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I figured I’d post another update:

JORGE BONIFACIO — ROYALS’ ORGANIZATION

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Jorge Bonifacio is the Royals’ number five prospect, and the number eighty-nine overall prospect in all of baseball. Batting .298 with 4 home runs and 57 RBI’s this past season, Bonifacio still has a ways to go before he’s big-league-ready, but at just 20 years old, he has a lot of promise. Bonifacio should become an everyday player for the Royals in the next couple of years.

ANDREW HEANEY — MARLINS’ ORGANIZATION

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Andrew Heaney is the Marlins’ number two prospect, and the number fourty-eight overall prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately, he smeared his last name of the autograph, but after going 9-3 with a 1.60 ERA this past season, this is an autograph (even though it’s smeared) I’m glad to have. Heaney is going to be a great pitcher for the Marlins fairly soon; joining their other young Ace, Jose Fernandez.

This might end up being the final autograph update post I do until Spring Training. (If I don’t get one back before the end of this year, it will be.) Things are slowing down, and the odds that I’ll get anymore autographs from players in the 2013 Arizona Fall League are getting slimmer. But you never know. I got an autograph from Kris Medlen thirteen months after I sent it during the 2011 Spring Training, so it’s always possible.

I still have autograph requests out for Corey Seager, Austin Hedges, Kyle Crick, Jorge Soler, Delino DeShields, Jorge Alfaro, Taylor Lindsey, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Parker, James Ramsey, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before the end of the year, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.

Arizona Fall League TTM Requests Update

Around a month ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up. Of the seventeen total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:

C.J. CRON — ANGELS’ ORGANIZATION

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C.J. Cron is the Angels’ number two overall prospect, and he proved why this past season. Batting .274 with 14 home runs and 83 RBI’s to go along with 36 doubles, Cron is well on his way to the Majors, though it may take another season or two. Things are looking very promising for Cron, and it should be interesting to see how he performs next year.

STEPHEN PISCOTTY — CARDINALS’ ORGANIZATION

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Stephen Piscotty is the Cardinals’ number seven prospect, and becomes the first player I’ve ever had sign a card in purple (magic marker?). Still fairly young, at 22 years old, Piscotty has a good chance at making it to the big leagues. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 59 runs in 2013 to go along with a .295 batting average. Piscotty is a player worth watching down the road.

ADDISON RUSSELL — ATHLETICS’ ORGANIZATION

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Addison Russell is the Athletics’ number one prospect and the number seventeen overall prospect in all of baseball. Russell participated in the 2013 Futures game, up in New York City, and is sure to see his fair share of Major League All-Star games in his future, assuming he pans out as predicted. Batting .269 with 17 home runs and 60 RBI’s this past season, Russell is going to be a special player.

An interesting side note, Addison Russell doesn’t normally sign through the mail — telling me he signs around one random thing a week — but he graciously agreed to sign something for me. He truly seems to be a great guy, and I’m going to be posting an interview I did with him sometime over the next month or two. So check back for that.

I still have autograph requests out for Andrew Heaney, Corey Seager, Jorge Bonifacio, Austin Hedges, Kyle Crick, Jorge Soler, Delino DeShields, Jorge Alfaro, Taylor Lindsey, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Parker, James Ramsey, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. When/if I get any of those back I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.

Arizona Fall League TTM Autograph Requests

The 2013 MLB postseason is well underway, and it sure has been exciting so far. A lot of unexpected things are sure to happen in the coming weeks, but for now I’m not going to discuss any of it. For this blog post I’m focusing solely on the Arizona Fall League. More specifically, through the mail (TTM) autograph requests that I’m sending out to various participating players.

Taking place every October/November — this year it’s October 8th through November 16th — the Arizona Fall League (AFL) gives top Minor League players who didn’t get a full season of playing time, for one reason or another, a chance to show their organization what they can do, as well as provide them with a little more baseball experience.mlb_a_bux_cr_400

I usually only send off autograph requests in March, for Spring Training, and October, for the Arizona Fall League. Some people send requests to players throughout the season, however, I’ve never really wanted to do that — they’re too busy going around from ballpark to ballpark. In Spring Training and the Arizona Fall League players stay in the same relative area for over a month; giving, in my mind, a better chance of success.

There is a ton of great talent in this year’s Fall League, but I’m not sending to all of them. If a player has a chance of coming to play the Bulls or Mudcats — my local MiLB teams — I don’t want to send to them. A good example of that being Byron Buxton. He’s participating in the AFL and was the 2013 MiLB Player of the Year, however, in addition to the unlikelihood that he would sign TTM, he could come to Durham with Rochester in the next year or two. So there’s really no point in wasting a card.

Last year I sent out fifteen auto requests and received back nine of them. That’s a fairly decent return as far as TTM’s go. This time around, I’m sending out seventeen, to players such as Addison Russell, Andrew Heaney, C.J. Cron, Delino DeShields and Colin Moran — all of which are on the top 100 prospects list — among multiple others.

The plan is to post an update every time I receive back a few autographs, as I did this year during Spring Training; assuming I get any autographs back at all. So look out for that over the course of the next few months.

Q and A With Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. Since the draft, things haven’t gone as planned for Gibson, as although his stats have been decent, he hasn’t been able to stay completely healthy; having to undergo Tommy John surgery in September of 2011.

As far as Gibson’s stats go, he’s certainly lived up, for the most part, to being a first round draft pick. The 2008 Team USA pitcher went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA in his first professional season, in 2010. Good enough to earn him a promotion to AAA Rochester at the end of the year, after beginning the season with A+ Fort Myers.Gibson

Gibson’s stellar inaugural season didn’t translate into 2011, however, as although he was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game, at Chase Field, Gibson went 3-8 on the year, with a 4.18 ERA. To put it in simpler terms: That’s not very good. But Gibson’s poor pitching wasn’t entirely his fault. Gibson had an arm injury, which resulted in him having to have Tommy John surgery during the offseason. A surgery that would turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Gibson.

Post surgery, Gibson had a sudden boost in velocity, as his fastball rose from upper 80’s to lower 90’s, this past season. In Gibson’s most recent (partial) season, he went 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA; which is misleading due to the few innings in which he was able to pitch. As a result of the shortened season, Gibson traveled out to Arizona to participate in the Arizona Fall League, where he was selected to make the start for the Western Division in the 2012 A.F.L. Rising Stars Game–lasting two innings and giving up a couple of runs.

As long as things continue to go smoothly for Gibson, between now and the start of the season, barring any unpredicted setbacks, you can expect to see Gibson in the Major Leagues sometime during the upcoming 2013 season; if not on Opening Day. He certainly has the potential to get the call up out of Spring Training, and as such, is a guy everyone needs to keep a very close eye on in the coming months.

Kyle Gibson–top 10 prospect in the Twins organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I have always been involved and interested in baseball because my dad was. He was a high school baseball coach after he played a little bit of junior college baseball in his prime. He still likes to play in a mens senior league to this day. I believe that is why he would be my biggest influence on my love for the game up to this point.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

I had a couple when I was growing up. My dad was a huge Nolan Ryan fan, so obviously I thought he was cool, but believe it or not, I used to play a little short stop in my younger/shorter/faster years, and at that time Barry Larkin was a favorite player of mine as well.

3.) You were drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

The process was a long and stressful process at times mainly because I found out I had a stress fracture in my right forearm about 4 days before the draft. That made everything a little more stressful than I imagined, but even with that said, it was a fun process and I learned a lot. My parents and I decided to stay home and invite some people over to the house to watch the draft, so I was sitting outside in our driveway under a tent with what ended up being a few more people than the “some” we had planned on inviting. Everyone was getting a little anxious because from everything we had heard there was no definite place I was going to get drafted. So as the picks went by we got a little more anxious, but when my name was called there was a loud cheer, and I still get chills thinking about that moment in my life.

4.) You had Tommy John surgery in September of 2011 and seemed to have an increase in velocity. Has that increase in velocity changed the way you go about pitching or did you keep the same basic approach?

It does not change the way I pitch too much, other than the fact that I now have a much different fastball and slider. I have needed to learn to trust my fastball a little more because it’s now consistently in the low 90’s where before I was more consistently 89. My slider has also gained some velocity and has sharpened up a bit, so I have needed to adjust to that as well.

5.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?

I would say there are a couple stats that I like to look at, and those are walks and ground ball/fly ball ratio. I hate walking people, so that is why that is so important to me, and I also know that when I am at my best, I need to have the defense involved. The best way for me to do that is to get lots of ground balls and allow our infielders to do the rest.

6.) You made the start for the West division in the 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game. What was that experience like, in terms of going up against some of the best hitters that minor league baseball has to offer?

That experience was a lot of fun. Had I not given up a moonshot to the first batter I might have enjoyed it slightly more…..just kidding. It was a great opportunity, even though for only 2 innings, to square off against [Jarred] Cosart, who I have known for many years dating back to when he had committed to Missouri out of high school before the Phillies drafted and signed him. It was a lot of fun for all of us, and good to get that chance to pitch another time against the best the minors has to offer.

7.) What are your plans for the remainder of the offseason to help you prepare for 2013? What are your goals for 2013?

Since my regular season extended into my offseason more than usual, I am now starting to get back into the swing of things and throwing again. Workouts will get more intense as I make sure my arm and body are prepared for another long season. My goals have a lot to do with staying healthy, and hopefully making it up to the big club and having a positive impact on our chances of winning. Everyone wants to become a big leaguer, and I really hope I am able to do that this year.

8.) Favorite TV show?

‘Sports Center’ or ‘Duck Dynasty’.

9.) Favorite food?

Steak or Mozzi’s Pizza from Greenfield, Indiana where I grew up.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

Always have fun. Baseball should be something that they enjoy doing. Work as hard as you possibly can. I always look back and know that I could have worked harder because I never really knew what it took to become a professional. So have no regrets and work as hard as you can, but have fun doing it!

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Big thanks to Kyle Gibson for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @kgib44

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