Monday, February 23, 2009
Q&A with Jonathan Waltenbury
Twins Minor League Hitting Prospect
Good Monday morning everyone! For Twins fans, it certainly was an interesting weekend. Late Friday afternoon, it came out that the Twins and Joe Crede were close. It became official on Saturday morning. And that news was quickly followed with new that the Twins had offered reliever Juan Cruz a contract. That was followed by rumblings that the Twins and Diamondbacks may be close to the sign and trade. And that enthusiasm is now being tempered by reports that it is unlikely to happen. That shouldnít be surprising because not only would Cruz have to accept the Twins offer but then the Twins and D-Backs would have to agree on compensation. That makes it tough. But in 48 hours, a lot can happen, so it is still worth following. Anyway, I did have a couple of posts over the weekend, so be sure to scroll down and check them out.
OSCAR ASIDE Ė I actually really enjoyed watching the Oscars last night. Maybe it is actually because I had actually seen several of the movies that were up for several awards. I had seen Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Dark Knight, Revolutionary Road, and Wall-E. Maybe I need to see The Reader, but I thought that Kate Winslet was pretty incredible in Revolutionary Road and could have been nominated for that as well. †
OTHER ASIDE Ė Thanks to Dave Mona who, on Sundayís Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave, mentioned me and this site. Thanks to those of you who e-mailed to tell me. Yes, I was listening and thought it was pretty cool!
But since we canít just sit around and wait for something to happen, I thought it a good time to post another Q&A with another exciting, young Twins hitting prospect. Jonathan Waltenbury grew up in Ontario, Canada. He signed with the Twins after the team made him their 7h round pick in June of 2006. He spent 2007 with the GCL Twins. 2008 was a very good year for him at Elizabethton where he hit for average and showed excellent power. Letís see. Canadian, plays 1B, a big hockey fan, bats left-handed, a big powerful frameÖ Should we start hearing comparisons to the Twins Justin Morneau? Hey, letís just let him play. Heís a good player, but to compare a 20 year old in A ball to the 2006 AL MVP and 2008 MVP Runner-Up probably isnít fair. But I also donít want to downplay the tremendous upside that Waltenbury does have if he continues to work hard and progress. †
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Ontario, can I make an assumption about who your favorite big league baseball team has been to follow while growing up? Who were or are some of your favorite players to follow?
Jonathan Waltenbury: Growing up in Ontario, I was always a Jays fan, and I always loved watching Larry Walker and Ken Griffey Jr.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little bit about your high school baseball career and teams at Henry Street high school. Did you play other positions?
Jonathan Waltenbury: High School baseball in Canada is not what it is like in the U.S. We only play an 8 game season, I believe. In Canada, baseball players who seek a future in the sport are all on travel teams, like I was, such as the Ontario Blue Jays. They also have a regular season, but itís only about 30 games. Growing up, I played all over, but as I entered high school, I stuck with the outfield and played right and left field up until the draft when the twins drafted me as a 1st basemen.
SethSpeaks: It's impossible not to ask a Canadian baseball player about hockey. Did you play a lot of hockey as a youth as well, and are you a big fan today?
Jonathan Waltenbury: HUGE fan of hockey. I played when I was younger and still do today; except when I play today its just pick up hockey with some friends.
SethSpeaks: Were you being recruited much while you were in high school? What were your options coming out of high school?
Jonathan Waltenbury: Coming out of high school, I signed with Connors State Junior College in Oklahoma.
SethSpeaks: The Twins drafted you with their 7th round pick in 2006. Was that about where you were hoping and expecting to be drafted?
Jonathan Waltenbury: I was happy when I was picked in the 7th because I was aiming for the top 10 rounds, so it all worked out well.
SethSpeaks: Had you talked to Twins scouts much? Were you surprised when the Twins drafted you?
Jonathan Waltenbury: Yes, I talked to the Twins quite a bit actually and wasnít really surprised when they took me.
SethSpeaks: How difficult was the decision for you to sign with the Twins?
Jonathan Waltenbury: Actually not too difficult really. I knew what I wanted and I got my chance so took it.
SethSpeaks: What was the adjustment to pro baseball, on and off the field, like for you? What was the biggest adjustment?
Jonathan Waltenbury: Adapting to the speed of the game was my biggest adjustment.
SethSpeaks: You had a solid debut in the GCL in 2007, but had a nice breakout season in 2008 at Elizabethton. How would you describe yourself as a hitter? What would you call your strengths and what areas are you most working toward improving?
Jonathan Waltenbury: After my first season of GCL, I really wasnít too happy about how I performed, but I think it had a lot to do with the speed of the game. I felt way more comfortable last year which is why I think it led to a fairly successful season. I guess Iíd describe myself as a power guy. My strengths? Well I like to think I have some pop so Iíd say power, but I definitely need to work on my approach against lefties.
SethSpeaks: You're a big, tall left-handed hitting 1B from Canada... people probably want to assume similarities between yourself and Twins MVP Justin Morneau. Are there any similarities between the two of you on the field, in your opinion?
Jonathan Waltenbury: I have been told on a few occasions that there are some similarities. and all I can really say is there is heís a big left handed hitting Canuck and so am I.
SethSpeaks: Your 2008 Elizabethton team was pretty impressive. What was it like to be part of a league champion team? Describe the run toward the championship.
Jonathan Waltenbury: It was the most fun Iíve had in my life and to win a league championship was awesome. You could play 20 years and not win a championship. Itíll be something I will always remember.
SethSpeaks: The lineup was amazing, with you, Bigley, Morales, Harrington, de La Osa and good power throughout the lineup. Talk about watching some of those players and everyone having success together. Was there competition between each others?
Jonathan Waltenbury: Thereís always going to be competition in baseball but our team had pretty good chemistry.
SethSpeaks: What have you been able to do during your offseason? Did you get away from baseball? When did you start your preparations for 2009?
Jonathan Waltenbury: when I first got back I took some time away from everything, just relaxed a bit. But I started prepping for Ď09 in early October.
SethSpeaks: Do you set goals for yourself? What are your goals for the 2009 season? Are there certain statistics that you pay more attention to than others?
Jonathan Waltenbury: I try not to pay attention to statistics. I do set goals. My main goal for í09? Iíd love to improve on hitting all around, better off lefties.
SethSpeaks: What are some of your hobbies when you're able to get away from baseball?
Jonathan Waltenbury: I manage a professional hockey team....FANTASY!!
SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball book?
Jonathan Waltenbury: not much of a reader.
SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball movie?
Jonathan Waltenbury: hands down, no question, Bull Durham.
Thank you very much to Jonathan Waltenbury for taking the time to answer these questions. We wish him the best success in 2009! 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.