Thursday, February 21, 2008
Q&A with Michael McCardell
Twins Pitching Prospect
Good morning everyone! It is time for another Q&A with a Twins minor leaguer. This Q&A is with Michael McCardell. McCardell burst onto the Twins scene with a remarkable pro debut after the Twins took him in the 6th round of the 2007 draft out of Division II Kutztown University.After just a couple of appearances with the GCL Twins, he went on to Elizabethton where he was even better. All told, he struck out 95 and walked just eight hitters in his 63 innings. He went 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA. I would expect that McCardell will begin the season at Low A Beloit where he should continue to do very well. I would not be surprised if he is the 2008 version of Jeff Manship. To check out the brief career stats of Michael McCardell, click here. I hope you enjoy the questions and Mike's responses. He really did a nice job! (Click here to see previous Q&As)
But before we get to the Q&A, here are a couple of quick notes:
Alright, I watched American Idol again last night and was impressed with a couple of the performers. There definitely is a separation between the top 5-6 and the rest though. In my mind, Ramiele Malubay and Asia'H Epperson are clearly the class of this group. Not far behind are Alexandrea Lushington and Syesha Mercado. In my mind, Amy Davis and Amanda Overmyer are the two likely to leave the show tonight.
Thanks to everyone who asked me questions yesterday. There were a lot of great questions there, so if you missed it, check it out. Also, I will continue to check for new questions as long as that posting is still on this page.
Josh Taylor gives his 2008 AL Central Predictions.
Check out Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes's blog. Hughes is a big card collector and there are a lot of similarities between the Yankees starter and the Twins Pat Neshek at least when it comes to collecting and signing autographs and generally getting what it is to be a fan.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up, who was your favorite team, and who were some of your favorite players to follow?
Michael McCardell: I live in West Chester, PA, which is about 35 miles outside of Philadelphia, so my favorite team growing up has always been the Philadelphia Phillies. Fan favorite would be the 1993 Phillies. Favorite players would be John Kruk, Curt Schilling, Darren Daulton, and Lenny Dykstra. Other than the Phillies, I'd say Ken Griffey, Jr.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little bit about your high school baseball career. Besides pitching, what other positions did you play and such?
Michael McCardell: Well, in high school I pitched and played third base. I played Varsity as a sophomore and had great Senior leaders that helped me adjust to high school baseball. We had a great team my Junior year and made it to the State Playoffs. One of my highlights that year was hitting for the cycle during a quarter final game.
SethSpeaks: Did you participate in any other activities in high school?
Michael McCardell: No, I didnít play any other sports. Just Fall and Spring baseball.
SethSpeaks: You went to Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. Were you heavily recruited coming out of high school?
Michael McCardell: No, not really. I played in some PA showcases and received some letters but my high school coach suggested Kutztown. KU has a great track record for getting pitchers drafted and also playing in the conference and regional title nearly every year. The fact that it is just an hour from home was a benefit.
SethSpeaks: For those in the Upper Midwest, tell us a little about Kutztown University.
Michael McCardell: Kutztown is a Pennsylvania, Divison II, state school with approx. 10,000 students. It is located in rural PA, near Reading, PA (Reading Phillies). It has a fun small town and is surrounded by cornfields. It has always had a good baseball program and I was happy they had a spot for me on the roster, at both first base and pitcher. I pitched as a freshman and a senior in the DII College World Series, and just missed going a third year when we lost the regional championship game to West Chester University, my hometown.
SethSpeaks: If you weren't playing pro baseball, what would your career of choice be?
Michael McCardell: Wow, that is a good question. I always wanted to play pro baseball and that has always been my focus. I would guess that it would be something involving sports.
SethSpeaks: What was your major, and do you intend to continue your education?
Michael McCardell: Iíll admit I had several, but settled into Sports Management. I still need credits to graduate and I plan to continue at our local college in the off season.
SethSpeaks: The Twins drafted you in the 6th round in the 2007 draft. Were you expecting to be selected at that time? Had you been in contact with the Twins scouts much?
Michael McCardell: No, I wasnít to both questions. It was a big surprise. I had filled out paperwork from many teams and had been asked to go to try-outs by a few. I really didnít know that the Twins were interested in me. I got a call from the Twins scout after Day 1 of the draft saying that I might go early in Day 2 but I was thinking more like the 12-15th round. The scout called me after they drafted me in the six round. I was so excited and couldnít have been happier.
SethSpeaks: Who were some of the people most instrumental in your growth as a player and have helped you get to this point in your career?
Michael McCardell: First of all, I have to say both my parents. They have both been there to support me all the way. They rarely missed a game and if one of them did they were on the phone. I really admire my dad as a man, he is my hero and I respect everything that he has done for me. My mom is incredible; she has helped me grow as a person not just as a baseball player. And, of course, the rest of my family, who have supported me in every way.
I have to thank my high school and college coaches for believing in me and guiding me, in all aspects. Also, in the summers, of my sophomore year I played in the Southern Collegiate League in Georgia and the New England League in MA in my junior year, those coaches really helped me develop as a player.
Also, I have to thank the guys in the West Chester Adult League (Crawdads). They are a great group of guys that know a lot about the game. Playing and learning from them, with all of their experience, helped me mature a lot as a person and a ballplayer.
SethSpeaks: You signed and reported to Ft. Myers to play for the GCL Twins. You quickly moved up to Elizabethton. What was the adjustment to pro baseball like for you?
Michael McCardell: The adjustment to pro ball was exciting and difficult at the same time. I just tried to go out and pitch to the best of my ability. The Twins have some great coaches and they really helped me improve my mechanics and to just go do the best that I could.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher. 95 strikeouts and just eight walks, I am guessing that control would be one of your strengths. What would you say are your other strengths, and what areas do you feel you need to most improve on as you advance?
Michael McCardell: I like to challenge hitters on the mound. Obviously, in certain situations you canít, but I like getting hitters out, who doesnít. I try to get ahead and use all my pitches. Staying ahead really cuts down on your walks. You can always get better. Things Iím working on in this off-season are my strength and getting the ball down with all pitches. Also, Iíve been working hard on my change up.
SethSpeaks: Were you surprised with how quickly you were able to come in and succeed?
Michael McCardell: I didnít really reflect on my success as the season was going on. The team was doing so well and I was having so much fun. I just wanted to go in and pitch well for the team.
SethSpeaks: It had to be a lot of fun playing with that Elizabethton team. There is a lot of talent on the team. How much fun was the team, the coaches and the players?
Michael McCardell: The team was really great, a great group of guys who like going to the field everyday. The coaches love the game and love teaching it to us, based on what they saw from each of us. The talent level on the team was off the charts; pitching, hitting, and defense. It will really be fun to see how we all do in 2008.
SethSpeaks: Although you didn't need much run support, the offense of the E-Twins was impressive. Can you talk a little bit about the hitters on the team and just how good they are?
Michael McCardell: The hitters on our team were great and consistent. Although I wasnít in E-ton the whole season, they never really all hit a slump and the line up rarely changed. The guys just all fit well together in the line up. Hitters like Tosoni, Romero, Leveret, and Lewis were clutch all year.
SethSpeaks: How much have you studied or looked at the Twins organization? There are a lot of very good pitching prospects. What are your thoughts so far on the Twins system?
Michael McCardell: I donít really check stats that much on other guys. I try and just worry about what I can do, and do better, and that is all I have control over. But the Twins do have a lot of good pitchers and it is great to be in this organization. I am really very excited to see how these next few years play out.
SethSpeaks: Based on your 2007 numbers, will you try to set any goals for 2008 in terms of numbers?
Michael McCardell: More wins, ha ha. I am just going to try and do better and this time for the whole season, not just half like last year. I just want to keep improving and hopefully moving up.
SethSpeaks: Are there certain statistics that you look at for yourself more than others?
Michael McCardell: I donít worry about stats too much, but if I had to, it would be to keep the walks down and how many games my team wins when I pitch. Runs allowed is important, not just ERA. When a teammate makes a mistake we all try and pick them up.
SethSpeaks: So, what have you been up to this offseason? Do you take some time away from baseball? When do you start preparing for the 2008 season?
Michael McCardell: After Fall Instructs I took some time off to be with family and friends. My dad is really busy in the Fall farming so I helped him out quite a bit. I started working at the local baseball academy giving lessons to younger kids, and that has been fun all winter. I started working out again after Thanksgiving. A Kutztown alum and former major leaguer, playing in Japan this year, Ryan Vogelsong, took me under his wing and helped me with a quality workout program. He is a good guy and I wish him all the best this year overseas.
I like all of the Major
League movies with Charlie Sheen. I think they are good movies and they make me
SethSpeaks: What will it be like to put on a Twins uniform for the first time in a regular season game?
Michael McCardell: If I am lucky enough to have that happenÖ.it would be a great day and I would finally be achieving one of my lifeís goals. I would be honored to wear a Twins uniform and I owe them a lot for believing in me and giving me the chance to play the game I love, everyday.
SethSpeaks: What is it like to have people come up to you and ask for autographs?
Michael McCardell: It is pretty cool to have people wanting your autograph. Itís nice when the little kids ask and it makes the whole experience that much better.
SethSpeaks: What is one thing that you would like Twins fans to know about you?
That baseball is a great
game. There isnít a better job in the world and I love every minute of it.
Every fifth day I take the ball and give it the best I haveÖÖand do the best I
can for the team.
A big thank you to Michael McCardell for taking the time to answer all of these questions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put them in the comments below, or e-mail me and I will try to get a response. Have a great day!