Friday, January 30, 2009
Q&A with Joe Testa
Twins Minor League Pitching Prospect
Happy Friday everyone! It has been a busy week, so it is nice to be able to bring another Q&A with a Twins prospect. Joe Testa is a left-handed pitcher in the Twins system. After four solid seasons at Division I Wagner University, he went undrafted. The Twins later signed him and he impressed in his pro debut. He pitched well for the GCL Twins. Later in the season, the Ft. Myers Miracle were preparing for their playoff run and wanted to find some left-handed pitchers. Testa was brought across the parking lot, to pitch for the Miracle. He made a solid impression. He has good control, decent stuff and he’s left-handed. He has the ability to strike out hitters. I think that he is one to watch. And we know that the Twins have had good success with undrafted players in recent years. Dan Leatherman had a good run, and recently signed with another organization. Rob Delaney may become the poster child for all Twins pitchers signed as a non-drafted free agent. I think that Testa can be very good.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in New Jersey, who was your favorite team, and who were some of your favorite players to watch?
Joe Testa: My favorite team was the Yankees, and Paul O'Neil and Ken Griffey were my favorite players.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little bit about your high school baseball career. Did you play positions beside pitcher?
Joe Testa: I played Center Field and First Base too, but outfield was probably the most fun to play.
SethSpeaks: Did you participate in other extracurricular activities?
Joe Testa: I was a Corner Back and a Running Back/Wide Receiver on my Football team, and I played Point Guard and Shooting Guard for my Basketball team.
SethSpeaks: Were you recruited much in high school, and what led to your decision to go to Wagner College?
Joe Testa: I was recruited by a lot of D2 and D3 schools; Wagner was one of the few D1 schools that contacted me. I chose Wagner because it was in NY and only a free ferry ride into NYC. They made me a good offer and I loved the campus.
SethSpeaks: Your ERA went down significantly each of your four years at Wagner. What types of things did you learn over your four years there?
Joe Testa: That you don't always have to try to strike hitters out, they will get themselves out most of the time.
SethSpeaks: In 300 college innings, you struck out 308 hitters. Do you consider yourself a strikeout pitcher?
Joe Testa: I guess I would. My roommates in college would always joke about that, because they said that strikeouts were all I cared about. So if I got the loss one day and gave up like 4 runs and 5 hits in 6 innings, they would sarcastically say, yea but you had 9 strikeouts so who cares.
SethSpeaks: What pitches do you throw? What would you call your out-pitch, and what are you working on?
Joe Testa: I throw a fastball, curve, slider, change up and a cutter. I'd say my out pitch would be my fastball and cutter. I've been working a lot more on my off speed pitches and my pick off move.
SethSpeaks: Despite a very solid collegiate career, you went undrafted. Did you talk to any scouts, and were you surprised that you weren't drafted?
Joe Testa: Yes, a few scouts and agents contacted me and sent letters so I was kind of surprised when I didn't get picked. But I know that God has a plan for me, and this is it, and I'm blessed to be here.
SethSpeaks: You signed soon after with the Twins. What was that the process from the end of the draft until you decided to sign with the Twins?
Joe Testa: Well when I didn't hear my name called on draft day, that was probably the worst day of my life, ha. A lot of Independent teams started to call me soon after to see if I would go play with them, and it sounded pretty good. But then I started to think, there's no way that I am going to let myself not be on a Minor League team within the next month. So I got on the phone and the computer and started calling and emailing all different scouts, teams and anyone else I could think of to see if there was a way I could get a tryout of some kind. I went to a few open ones but nothing came of that. Then finally, a scout from the Tigers and the Twins (John Wilson), contacted me to let me know they would be sending an area scout to come watch me pitch in a Summer League game. So I asked a coach (Art Rooney) from a team I used to play on if I could throw a few innings for some scouts. I hadn't thrown in over a month, but I figured it was my last shot since I had a flight to Missouri scheduled for the next day at 12 pm. to play for an Independent team out there. So, I threw well in the game, and the two scouts said they would contact me soon. The next morning I got up and didn't get a call, so my Dad and I got in the car and started to drive to the airport for Missouri. We were about 10 minutes away from the airport when I got a call from John Wilson. He asked if I got on the plane yet and when I said no, he asked if I'd like to come play with the Twins instead of going to Missouri. Ha, it wasn't that hard of a decision for me to make, so we turned the car around and I got on a plane for Fort Myers the next day. So the worst and the best day of my life so far both happened in the same month. It all worked out though, and now I'm here.
SethSpeaks: You reported to Ft. Myers. What were your impressions of pro ball when you got there?
Joe Testa: At first I hated getting up at 7 am every morning in Rookie Ball, but then I just remembered how much it took to get there and that there was nothing else I'd rather be doing. And when I got to play with the Miracle, that was just awesome. Playing night games under the lights with thousands of fans yelling and cheering, it was the most fun I've ever had.
SethSpeaks: In 8 games with the GCL Twins, you walked one and struck out 17 in 13.2 innings. What was the level of competition and how did you feel about getting off to such a great start?
Joe Testa: In the GCL, there were a lot of younger players that got drafted out of high school or came from other countries, so I felt like I at least had a little more experience than some of them which helped. And no matter how young or old, they could ALL hit a fastball. I felt confident going in, but I felt even more relieved and relaxed when I got off to a good start. Because I knew that since I was a free agent, if I didn't perform well, they would have no problem with letting me go and finding someone who could get the job done. So starting off right really boosted my confidence.
SethSpeaks: At that point, you skipped two levels and pitched in four games for the Miracle in Ft. Myers, and did very well. Although limited innings, can you describe the adjustment from moving up a few levels?
Joe Testa: The hitters are much more disciplined and the balls they hit go much farther. If you make a mistake, they will make you pay for it. My first game up there, I only gave up 1 solo homerun, but it was probably the furthest anyone has ever hit a ball off of me in my life... wood OR metal bat.
SethSpeaks: What has your first offseason been like? Were you able to get away from baseball for awhile, and when did you start your preparation for the 2009 season?
Joe Testa: I took a little over a month off from throwing when I got home which was nice. I've been giving pitching lessons since I got home too, so I never really got a chance to get away from Baseball which is how I like it. Ha, and I never want to have 6 months off from Baseball ever again.
SethSpeaks: What are your goals and hopes for the 2009 season?
Joe Testa: I would really like to start in High A again with the Miracle and then hopefully move forward from there. And as for my goals, to be in the starting rotation, win a championship and have an ERA under 3 would be at the top of my list.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Book?
Joe Testa: Never read a Baseball book.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Movie?
Joe Testa: For Love of The Game and Major League.
SethSpeaks: What would it be like to put on a big league uniform in a regular season game for the first time?
Joe Testa: It's what I've been working towards my whole life, it'd be unreal. My legs would probably be like jello out there for the first couple minutes, but I can't even imagine the adrenaline after throwing that first strike or getting that first out.
A big thank you goes to Joe Testa for taking the time to answer these questions. We certainly wish him the best in 2009 and hopefully well beyond as he works through the Twins system! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put them in the comments, or e-mail me and I will try to get a response. There is a good chance that Joe will be checking the comments from time to time, so if you have specific questions, be sure to ask them. Have a great day!