Friday, February 1, 2008
Q&A with Erik Lis
Twins Hitting Prospect
Good morning everyone! I apologize for missing a day on here. I was out of town and really after the Santana trade announcement, I really thought that we all probably needed a day away. By the way, the Santana deal is not yet complete as he and the Mets have to work out a contract by 4:00 this afternoon (central time). Before getting to today's Q&A, I wanted to note just a couple of things for you to check out:
First, Jeff Straub tells me that his new podcast may be his last for the Minnesota Twins Fan Network. He and I chatted for about 48 minutes last night and our conversation will be posted on there shortly, so please take some time and listen to what we had to talk about. After that conversation, I think we all can step back and realize just how much has happened this offseason and really in the last week.
We are working on a couple of things over at Twinkie Town. We continue our Twins Top Prospects list. As of this writing, we are voting on Twins Prospect #25. However, with the Mets trade, we are also trying to figure out where those newly acquired prospects fit in with our Top prospects, starting with Deolis Guerra.
Got another blog to bookmark for you... check out SharkShellfish.com. It is about the Twins and many other topics.
John Sickels posted a very interesting "Not a Rookie" posting on Delmon Young that you should check out! How good can he be?
You've noticed I haven't really linked to Santana Trade thoughts here. You can probably check any of the Twins blogs on the left to get different opinions. But I do want to point people to Over the Baggy because he did a very nice job of finding opinions of some of the better national sports writers on it.
Finally, be sure to check back later today for a special "Super (Bowl) Predictions" posting. If there are any Twins players or bloggers out there who would like to participate, please e-mail me.
With that, I am really happy to present for you another Q&A with a Twins minor leaguer. I ranked Erik Lis as my #10 Twins prospect after last season because he ended up putting up very good numbers in the pitching-rich Florida State League. Of course, the highlight of his 2007 season probably had to be when he got to hit against Roger Clemens during his preparations for his return to the Yankees. Not only did he get to step in the box against The Rocket, but in his first at bat, he was able to hit a home run. I am sure he answers questions about that all the time, but I figured asking one more time wouldn't hurt, and he doesn't seem to mind at all. Lis can flat-out hit and should spend the 2008 season in New Britain. I have a feeling that he will launch a lot of homers in 2008, somewhere in the 25-30 range. If he does that, he certainly puts his name on the short list of Twins hitters that the team will try to find a place for. IF you are interested in his career numbers, please click here. Lis did a Q&A for this site back during the 2006 season, which you can read here.
I just think it is pretty neat that Lis was willing to do another Q&A with us. So, thank you to Erik Lis for taking time to answer so many questions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or use the Comments below.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: When you first did a Q&A at this site in mid-2006, you said that you wanted to work on your plate discipline? A year and a half later, how do you feel you're doing in that area?
Erik Lis: I feel like I am doing a pretty good job in that area, but there are still some things I need to work on. For example, I tend to get over anxious at times and try and do too much.
SethSpeaks: You also said that you just want to be more consistent. I think that consistent is a great word to describe your 2007 season at Ft. Myers. How did you feel about your season?
Erik Lis: Overall I was happy with the outcome of my season. I started off slow but I finished strong. I've always believed in the saying "its not how you start but how you finish".
SethSpeaks: Can you describe the differences (particularly the pitching) in the Florida State League as opposed to the Midwest League?
Erik Lis: I thought there was a big difference in pitching. Pitchers were more consist ant and they threw a lot more off-speed pitches for strikes. I had to make a lot of adjustments because I saw a lot of off-speed.
SethSpeaks: It really seemed like that additions of Brian Dinkelman and Danny Valencia helped your team's offense. Can you tell us how a couple of players can come in and seemingly jump-start an offense?
Erik Lis: Those two helped out a lot. Having them in the line-up made it more difficult for pitchers.
SethSpeaks: Dustin Martin came to the team at the trade deadline and hit behind you and you both took off. Tell us about Martin and how having someone protecting you can help you.
Erik Lis: He was a huge asset to the team. He's a great player and knows how to play the game. Having him hit behind me helped a ton. I started getting more pitches to hit. Having Dinkleman and Tolleson hitting in front of me, there was always somebody on base.
SethSpeaks: The goal of any minor leaguer is to keep moving up the system, yet the goal of any team is to win. How do you, as a player, balance your goal of moving up with trying to help the team win?
Erik Lis: Winning is huge because it creates good chemistry within a team. I always want to win and play well while winning. Playing well and losing is never as rewarding as playing well and winning. If the team is winning your contributions are more likely to get noticed.
SethSpeaks: You continued to transition more to the outfield. How is your defense progressing and how comfortable are you in the field?
Erik Lis: I love the opportunity to play both positions. I played a little outfield in college but not nearly as much as last season. It makes me more versatile as a player. I feel that I am progressing as an outfielder, I have learned a lot but the more experience the better.
SethSpeaks: I ranked you as my #10 Twins prospect because anyone who hits 18 homers and drives in 97 runs in the Florida State League deserves to be talked about. Do you pay attention to prospect lists and scouting reports, or do the minor league coaches or people from within the organization talk to you enough to let you know where you stand?
Erik Lis: I was really excited to see how well I was ranked. I don't like to dwell on rankings because people's opinions vary so much. I always want to play my best and keep moving up which is what really matters.
SethSpeaks: Speaking of home runs... I would be crazy not to ask you about that first at bat against The Rocket, Roger Clemens, down in Tampa. First of all, can you describe your thoughts heading into the game?
Erik Lis: I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous and anxious. I remember getting off the bus and seeing all of the media. I couldn't wait until the game started. Knowing that there would be thousands of fans at the game and that it was televised. The fact I would be facing Clemens made it pretty intense.
SethSpeaks: What were you thinking when you got into the batter's box and were staring out at a legend... who happens to be known to throw up and in on occasion?
Erik Lis: I was basically in awe. I was a little nervous but who wouldn't be. Knowing I was going up against one of the best pitchers in the game was a pretty cool feeling.
SethSpeaks: Tell us about the pitch sequence and what the pitch was that you hit over the right field wall?
Erik Lis: As I remember the first pitch was a fastball away for a ball. The next pitch was a curve ball in the dirt at which i swung at. At the time I was still pretty nervous but started to calm down. The next pitch was his signature split finger which I fouled off. Following that pitch was a ball low and inside. The count was 2-2. The next pitch was a fastball away which again I fouled off. The pitch after that was another fastball away and I fouled that off too. I was pretty late on the two previous pitches so I was thinking he had to come in eventually. Go figure the next pitch he came in and I was fortunate enough to not be late and hit it out of the ballpark.
SethSpeaks: As you were rounding the bases, what were you thinking? (Note - I was in my living room, pumping my fist and trying to think of someone to call!)
Erik Lis: Ha Ha! Honestly I don't really remember much about running the bases. I know I was running fast and that my head was down. I know I did not look towards the mound out of respect. It really hit me when I got back to the dugout. When I watched the replay on the news later I realized what it looked like.
SethSpeaks: I know your dad was there. How excited were your friends and family for you.
Erik Lis: It was great having my dad there. I'm glad he got to see that. They were very excited. After the game it took me about an hour just to hear all of the voice mails friends and family sent me. To this day I'm always asked how it felt to hit a home run off Clemens, it still feels awesome.
SethSpeaks: I also understand that you were able to meet Clemens after the game. Can you tell us a little bit about that conversation and did he sign the ball for you or something?
Erik Lis: Yeah I only meet with him briefly. I remember him telling me great job and that he would sign the ball I hit. My dad was the one who ended up getting the ball for me. He did sign it for me. The ball read " tough all day" then his name.
SethSpeaks: Speaking of autographs, Bowman released your first big league baseball card last summer. Do or did you collect baseball cards, and what was it like to have your own card?
Erik Lis: I had a huge collection of cards when I was younger. Having my own card is pretty awesome.
SethSpeaks: What are your thoughts on signing cards for fans?
Erik Lis: I think its great. Knowing that fans care about you enough to buy your card and want your signature is great. Without fans then there would be no baseball. I get the most pleasure out of signing things for the kids. I remember how excited I was when I would get a player to sign.
SethSpeaks: So, what has your offseason been like? Have you been able to get away from baseball enough, and at what point did you start preparing for the 2008 season.
Erik Lis: Its been really good. I am living in Janesville WI with my girlfriend. Its to the point now where I am getting anxious to get down to Ft, Myers. The cold weather has been at its finest these past few weeks. I probably took about 3 weeks off and then started my workout routine.
SethSpeaks: Can you tell us a little bit about your offseason workout routine? What are you trying to accomplish before the start of the season?
Erik Lis: The first couple of months I really focused on getting more strength in my legs. I do a lot of cardio as well as core work and flexibility. I'm working with a personal trainer on mainly speed movements, hip mobility, and core strength. That is going well and helping a lot. That is a two week deal 5 days a week.
SethSpeaks: Looking back to your 2007 season and looking forward to the 2008 season, what are your goals as you head into spring training?
Just to be in good shape and be healthy. I really want to start off well
and be good to go by the time the season starts.
SethSpeaks: Name one pitcher or one hitter that you played with in 2007 that you think will step up and have a big 2008 season.
Erik Lis: I think that
Steve Tolleson will have a good year as well as Jay Rainville. They both
finished strong last year.
SethSpeaks: Aside from questions regarding your home run against Clemens, what is the question that you get most frequently from people when they find out you are a pro baseball player?
Erik Lis: Honestly, the only question I get is about Clemens. Sometimes I'm asked what level I'm on or what team I play for.
SethSpeaks: Is there one thing that you would want Twins fans to know about you?
Erik Lis: I'm just grateful to be playing for the Twins and for the fans. I look forward to seeing everyone at spring training and during the season. I am living my dream
A big thank you to Erik Lis for taking the time to answer all of these questions. Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.