Friday, February 8, 2008
Q&A with Kyle Waldrop
Twins Pitching Prospect
Good morning everyone! It's Friday and it is time for another Q&A with a Twins minor leaguer. This Q&A is with Kyle Waldrop. This is certainly not the first time we have heard from Kyle. He has participated in three Q&As in the last couple of years. He has also been participating in the SethSpeaks.net NFL "Expert" Pick panel the last year, winning the whole thing in 2006! He began 2007 with Ft. Myers before being promoted to AA New Britain for 11 starts. He returned to Ft. Myers to end his 21 year old season. Today, Kyle has been kind enough to answer a lot of questions. As he has already had a couple of previous Q&As, we try to get a little more in-depth today. I hope you enjoy this. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have. To check out the career stats of Kyle Waldrop, click here.
But before we get to the Q&A, here are a couple of quick notes:
Yes, Curt Schilling's got a bad shoulder and may miss the entire 2008 season. Many note that if Bill Smith would have waited 7-10 days to trade Johan Santana, he may have been involved in a bidding war between the Mets and the Red Sox, and since the Red Sox would have been in it, you have to assume the Yankees would have been too. However, this information obviously wasn't know then, and Johan Santana is the one that set the deadline for a deal. So sure, the Twins maybe could have got more, but it is not Bill Smith's fault, but instead it is the $150 million man's!
Ken Rosenthal apparently said that the Twins might be one of two teams pursuing Joe Blanton from the A's. I have been asked by several people what I think about the Twins trying to acquire Blanton. My thought is that the Twins have a bunch of #3 starters, and number three starters making minimum wage. Joe Blanton is essentially a #3 starter who is set to make $3.7 million in 2008. But then you take a look at his numbers again. In his three seasons with the A's, he has a record of 42-34. Of course, I have to look a little deeper than W-L record to gain anything. In 2005 and 2007, he had a WHIP of 1.21. In 2005, he had an ERA+ of 123. He wasn't good in 2006, but was a little above average in 2007. As important as anything, Blanton racked up 230 innings in 2007. Now, he had 194 innings in 2006, so there has to be some fear of arm issues with that kind of inning increase. Basically, after looking at his numbers, my thoughts on a trade for Joe Blanton would 100%, completely agree on who the Twins would have to give up. Rumors had it that the A's were looking for a package from the Mets that included Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey and another prospect or two. If the Twins have to give up anywhere near that, then the Twins should just say no. If the Twins were able to acquire him for a package including Denard Span, one of the pitchers vying for a 5th spot in the Twins rotation (Kevin Mulvey, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak or Phil Humber) and a third tier prospect, I would say go for it. If not, let's just go with the young starters. NOTE - on his blog, Joe Christensen updates that the Twins are not in discussion with the A's regarding Blanton.
Leave it to the Twins Geek to eloquently give us a great perspective on all of these baseball issues that we think and re-think again and again. \
Brian Buchanan signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals.
I'm a big Michael Cuddyer fan! Great quotes on XM's Baseball This Morning!
Finally, yesterday I sent you to BrentNet to check out his Top 100 TV shows of all time. Well, yesterday I learned that if you go to RyanGlanzer.com, you can find his Top 100 songs of all time, Top 100 TV shows of all time and Top 100 Movies of all time.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: So, you were not able to repeat your SethSpeaks NFL "Expert" Picks championship this year. However, you still were the top finisher among the players in the Twins organization, so you still have some bragging rights! Any final thoughts on the 2007 NFL season?
Kyle Waldrop: Just like every year in the NFL, there are so many games that come down to a last second field goal or less than 3 points to screw up your picks for that week. Overall I was happy with my finish, and as long as I keep beating my teammates I won't complain! I know a lot of people were pulling for the Patriots to go undefeated, but being a Colts fan, I couldn't help but pulling for the Giants in the Super Bowl (and what a great game that was).
SethSpeaks: Alright, to baseball... what have you been doing since your season came to an end in September? Were you able to get away from baseball for a little while?
Kyle Waldrop: This is the first off-season that I have not participated in any sort of fall league. After the season ended, I went back home to Tennessee and spent a lot of time with my family in friends. I stayed there through New Year's, then headed back down to Ft. Myers to get prepared for Spring Training.
SethSpeaks: Can you describe the differences (particularly the pitching) in the Florida State League as opposed to the Midwest League?
Kyle Waldrop: 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: At what point in the offseason do you start to think about the 2008 season?
Kyle Waldrop: It's funny because right when the season gets over you just want to get away from baseball for a long time. But then after about 3 weeks of relaxing and sitting around, you start thinking about Spring Training and the next year. It's great to see family and friends, but after so long you can't wait until the season starts.
SethSpeaks: Describe your training regiment in the offseason. What types of exercises do you do?
Kyle Waldrop: Typically I'll take a couple weeks off working out when I first get home. Then for about a month I'll start with my light workouts about 5 times a week. At the start of every month I'll pick up my workouts a bit to push myself harder in the hopes of getting bigger and stronger. As for the exercises, I focus a lot on my legs and core. I try to stay fairly light on upper body work because it makes me stiff and less flexible in my shoulders.
SethSpeaks: After moving up to Ft. Myers midway through the 2006 season, you began the 2007 season back with the Miracle. Was that what you expected to happen, or were you somewhat disappointed not to start in New Britain?
Kyle Waldrop: Of course I would have liked to start out 2007 in New Britain, but realistically I knew that I was going to start back in Ft. Myers. I hadn't gotten quite enough innings under my belt there in '06, and there were some things I needed to get better at before I was ready for that step. Plus with all the quality arms in our system, there really wasn't any room for me there to start off.
SethSpeaks: You clearly pitched better in every way for the Miracle and got a chance to move up to AA. How excited were you to be promoted?
Kyle Waldrop: I was very excited to get promoted. The timing was about 1 week earlier that I would have liked (which doesn't make much sense you might say). I was scheduled to start the game vs. Roger Clemens in Tampa for his rehab appearance, but flew out the day before the game. I'd prepared myself for that game and atmosphere, but getting promoted was a bigger thrill.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe the differences between the Florida State League and the Eastern League, specifically the hitters?
Kyle Waldrop: Experience. The hitters in AA made adjustments from at-bat to at-bat a lot faster. In Ft. Myers you might be able to get the hitters out the same way 3 times in a row, but you can't do that at the next level. They're also a lot older in AA, and that goes along with the experience. They know what their strengths are, and will wait until you give them a pitch they can handle.
SethSpeaks: You made 11 starts for New Britain and certainly showed that you could handle the level despite some ups and downs. Although you went back down to Ft. Myers for the end of the season, I would think that you could take a lot out of that time with the Rockcats. What did you learn about yourself during that time?
Kyle Waldrop: Obviously I wished that I had stayed in New Britain for the rest of the year, but I think it was good for me to finish the year in Ft. Myers and regain some confidence in myself. I never once doubted my ability to compete there, but I struggled some and the org thought it was better for me to go back to Ft. Myers to work on some things that I'd gotten away from. Getting around 60 innings in up there will definitely be beneficial to me next year. Seeing the league firsthand can only help me get off to a better start.
SethSpeaks: Just as importantly, what did you find out that you needed to continue improving on to be successful at that level? Did the coaches give you some advice when you went back down?
Kyle Waldrop: I just needed to trust myself and my game better. I'm not a power guy, but depends more on the sink and run of my fastball. I was trying to get too fine with my pitches instead of trusting the movement and that got me into trouble. Falling behind the hitters is something you can't do at that level, and trying to be perfect on every pitch got me into those situations.
SethSpeaks: You pitch in an organization that is absolutely loaded with pitching prospects. What does that mean for you? Is it a challenge, or can it be a little bit of a frustration?
Kyle Waldrop: It's a great luxury for the Twins to have as many quality pitchers as we do. We all take it as a challenge for the most part. For the most part, we all get along real well even though we are competing for the same spots on the Twins roster. But being alongside all these good pitcher, it only makes you better as a player.
SethSpeaks: Before the season, you got to pitch 2/3 of an inning for the Twins in big league camp. Describe that day and what it can mean to a guy trying to get to that level.
Kyle Waldrop: It was a neat experience. It was the second game that I'd traveled with the big league team, the other being 2 years ago up to play the Phillies. I didn't get to pitch in that game, but it was a very fun experience to throw against the Pirates last year. It was the first time I'd come out of the pen during an inning since the GCL I believe, so it was unusual for me. I hit the first batter in the foot on my first pitch, but then settled down to get a groundout and a strikeout to end the inning. Experiences like that are awesome just to see how the big league guys go about their business and to see the other big leaguers on the other team.
SethSpeaks: Aside from being a ball player, are you a fan of Major League baseball. I guess what I'm asking is if you follow baseball and specifically the Twins throughout the offseason?
Kyle Waldrop: I do follow baseball a lot. After games and I get back the my apartment/hotel room, assuming I have an internet connection I'll check up on the scores of all the Twins affiliates and the big league Twins, along with the box scores of all my buddies in different organizations to see how they played that night.
SethSpeaks: What are your thoughts on the moves that the Twins have made so far this offseason?
Kyle Waldrop: They're trying to make moves and signings to build the franchise around a core group, and I think they've done a good job of it so far. As a GM, you're not going to be able to keep everybody, but I think it is important for them to do all they can to keep the young stars here and put the pieces around them necessary to compete at the high levels.
SethSpeaks: When you read about all of the names in potential Johan Santana trades, what are your thoughts? Do any of the names talked about get your excited about them becoming your teammates?
Kyle Waldrop: Guess we don't have to worry about this one anymore, haha.
SethSpeaks: How interested were you when the Mitchell Report came out? Were you surprised by anything in it?
Kyle Waldrop: I was a little interested to see what all would be included in the report. The main thing I was surprised at is that they didn't really have many hard facts to go along with the accusations of the trainers.
SethSpeaks: Again, I'm not trying to put you in a bad position, but do you have a sense for the prevalence of Performance-Enhancing Drugs in the Twins organization. Does the organization do any lecturing or send out any information to players so that they know what they can and can't use?
Kyle Waldrop: Every year in Spring Training, we get a talk from some doctors 1) about the effects of all types of drugs including performance-enhancing drugs and 2) about the testing policy and how often you can be tested throughout the year and anything else you might want to know.
SethSpeaks: Do you ever think about what if you would have gone to Vanderbilt, and pitching in the same staff with David Price, Casey Weathers and Ryan Mullins?
Kyle Waldrop: Of course. Vanderbilt has been an unbelievable team for a couple of years now, and their pitching staff has been the backbone of that. They also had a guy Jensen Lewis who is already in the big leagues with the Indians. So they were loaded with pitchers and it would have been pretty special to have us all there. It's funny though because they really wanted me to come in and play in the field and pitch from day one, and be a big part of their lineup. It's always fun to think about what would have been.
SethSpeaks: When do you need to report to Ft. Myers for spring training, and when will you head down there?
don't officially report until the first of March, but I've been down here
working out at the complex with a few other guys for a couple weeks now. It's
great to be back down here and I can already smell the start of spring training
and the season.
SethSpeaks: Are there any of your statistics that are more important to you than others?
For me, the
most important statistics are first pitch strikes. Being a command pitcher,
it's very important for me to get ahead of the hitters and pound the zone.
SethSpeaks: What are your goals heading into the 2008 season in terms of where you start or end the season?
Kyle Waldrop: I'm hoping to start the season back in New Britain. As far as the season, I just hope to be more consistent than I have been in previous years. If I can do this, I have no doubt that I can be successful at that level and see if I get the opportunity to possibly finish the year in Rochester.
SethSpeaks: Do you keep in touch with any of your teammates throughout the offseason, or is it kind of a reunion the first day of training camp?
There are quite a few guys that I do stay in touch with throughout the offseason.
Even though we enjoy being away, it's always fun to catch up and go back to all
the stories and events from previous years. Especially because you start to
miss playing after so much time. The first day of training camp is always a fun
one. For all the guys you don't talk to during the offseason, it's great to
catch up with them and the feeling of getting another season cranked up is
SethSpeaks: What is the best movie you have watched recently?
been to the movies recently, but I can't wait for the new Batman movie, The Dark
Knight, to come out. Best movie I've popped in recently has been The Sandlot.
Everytime I watch that movie it reminds me how fun the game of baseball is, and
how lucky I am to be living out my dream of playing professionally.
SethSpeaks: Favorite restaurant?
Kyle Waldrop: Tough one. Depends what mood I'm in on any given night. I'll say a few favorites are P.F. Changs, Outback, Carrabbas, Cracker Barrel, and Chik-Fil-A for fast food.
SethSpeaks: What are your thoughts on signing autographs?
mind signing autographs at all. Growing up I remember what it was like for me
going to Tennessee baseball games and getting autographs from guys like Todd
Helton. It seems insignificant to me to sign a card or ball, but when I think
about what it really means to kids, I realize how lucky I am to be in this
SethSpeaks: Do you collect baseball cards or other memorabilia?
Kyle Waldrop: I used to have a small collection of baseball cards growing up, but nothing huge. Can't say that I'm a big collector/trader, but I can see where it would be addicting if I got started.
SethSpeaks: Name one or two of your teammates from 2007 that you expect to move quickly or really impress in 2008.
Kyle Waldrop: Jay Rainville had a great year in 2007, but got overlooked some in my opinion. He was healthy all last year coming off of his surgery, and I look at him to have another very strong year this year. He velocity will continue to rise as he gets stronger, but he didn't even need that last year to put up his numbers because he pounds the zone with all his pitches. Jeff Manship should also have a very strong year. He's got great run to his fastball and has an absolute hammer. When he's commanding both, he makes people take some really funny swings.
SethSpeaks: If I asked your teammates to describe you, what would they say?
Kyle Waldrop: Haha good question! I would guess that they would say I'm a fairly laid back guy, but who's very focused on the task at hand and an extremely hard worker.
SethSpeaks: As a pitcher, what can a catcher do for you during a game? It's easy to look at hitting stats to see how a catcher is hitting, but it's impossible to measure what a catcher can do on the defensive side of the ball.
Kyle Waldrop: It's huge for me to have a catcher who's on the exact same page as I am. If we're not clicking on pitch selection, we could both get frustrated with each other, and the pace of the game can come to a halt. Also, to have confidence in a catcher to block balls, mostly on offspeed pitches ahead in the count, is also very important. You don't feel like you have to make a perfect pitch, but instead know that if you bounce it off the place, that he'll block it every time.
SethSpeaks: Briefly describe the catchers that caught you in 2007 in terms of their skills defensively and calling a game.
Kyle Waldrop: The catchers I had catch me in '07 were, Korey Feiner, Kyle Geiger, Caleb Moore (now pitcher), and Jeff Christy. All of them did a good job understanding my game plan and attacking that along with being good defensive catcher.
A big thank you to Kyle Waldrop for taking the time to answer all of these questions. We will have to see if we can convince him to stop by over the weekend to answer any of your questions. Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here.