Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Q&A with Toby Gardenhire
Ft. Myers Infield Prospect
Good morning! I am very happy and excited to bring you yet another Q&A of a Twins minor league prospect today.
Toby Gardenhire signed with the Twins after the selected him in the 41st round of the 2004 draft out of the University of Illinois. As you likely know, Toby is the son of Ron Gardenhire, the Twins manager. Just last week we saw Toby knock a double down the right field line against Roger Clemens on ESPN2. His dad has been on the Twins coaching staff since he was named third base coach in 1991. Toby had the opportunity to grow up with the Twins and learn baseball. He became a very good player in high school. He went to community college for a year before going to the University of Illinois. He spent his summers playing in the wood bat Northwoods League. After the Twins drafted him, he played for the Appalachian League champion Elizabethton Twins. He spent 2006 with the Beloit Snappers. He began the 2007 season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. He is playing nearly every day at any of the three infield positions. He is also hoping to get some time in the outfield and has even donned the tools of ignorance. (If you would like, you can check out his career numbers here.)
If you would like to see what other Twins prospects I have had Q&As with, please be sure to check out a page I created with all of my Q&As. Today, I want to thank Toby Gardenhire for taking some of his time to answer questions for us! I really hope that you all enjoy the Q&As. If you have any comments for me or Mr. Gardenhire, please e-mail me, and I will try to answer your questions or forward them on to him and see if we can get you an answer. Also, leave Comments below if you would prefer.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Spending much of your formative years growing up in Minnesota, who was your favorite team to watch?
Toby Gardenhire: The Twins
SethSpeaks: Who were some of your favorite Twins players to watch play? Did you try to pattern your game like any of the Twins?
Toby Gardenhire: My favorite player of all time is Kirby Puckett. He was the most exciting player I have ever seen. When I was little I use to hit in the dome with my dad on Sundays and Puckett would show me how to do his leg kick in his swing. He was a great guy.
SethSpeaks: Were you able to spend time in the clubhouse, or shagging fly balls with the Twins during BP? Any good stories?
Toby Gardenhire: When I was in high school I use to take ground balls with Christian Guzman. He is so smooth with all of his fielding actions. Watching and learning from him has really been a help to me defensively in my career.
SethSpeaks: What are your memories from your high school baseball days? Any good cold-weather stories?
Toby Gardenhire: My junior year in high school we played a game in 35 degree weather. It started snowing about two innings in and I remember that the wind was blowing so hard that I was holding my glove over my face and looking through the web to try and keep warm. Finally our coach pulled us off the field and we all ran strait to the bus.
SethSpeaks: Did you play other sports or participate in other school activities?
Toby Gardenhire: When I was in high school. I played baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. It was a lot of work, especially in the fall going strait from football practice to soccer practice right after school. But my letter jacket got pretty loaded and looked sweet.
SethSpeaks: The Twins drafted you in the 38th round in 2002 out of high school. Did you consider signing at that time, or did you know you wanted to go to college?
Toby Gardenhire: I actually didn't get drafted until after my freshman year of junior college. I thought about signing a little bit, but my dad said he thought it would be best if I went back to school. I'm glad I did too. I had a lot of fun in college and I got some pretty great experiences. Plus I am only one Spanish class away from getting my degree right now which I am really proud of.
SethSpeaks: Discuss your college career and playing in the Big 10.
Toby Gardenhire: The Big Ten was awesome. Champaign was a great college town, just like every other town that a big ten school is the host of. Playing in that conference with all of the athletic tradition. I couldn't have asked for more.
SethSpeaks: You start this season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. How would you compare the Midwest League to the Florida State League? Is there any comparison?
Toby Gardenhire: The Florida state league is tougher to hit in because the spring training fields are so big and the pitching is petty tough. The infields play a lot nicer though and the defense tends to be a little more crisp.
SethSpeaks: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?
Toby Gardenhire: My dad, all the coaches I've ever had, and all the players I've ever played with and watched have helped me to this point in my career. I try to learn a little bit from everyone I am around in baseball. It seems like there is always something you can learn from everyone in baseball.
SethSpeaks: Is there one piece of advice that your dad has given to you that you keep in the back of your mind?
Toby Gardenhire: Play hard and be aggressive. If you are going to go down, at least go down doing everything you can so that you have no regrets.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe yourself as a player? What are your strengths and what areas do you most need to improve on?
Toby Gardenhire: Defense is my strength. I want to be able to play every position on the field so I will have as much versatility as possible. So far in my professional career I have played seven out of the nine positions in games. I haven't pitched or played center field, but got all the others. My weakness is power. I have zero home runs, and I only had 2 in college where I had a metal bat in my hands.
SethSpeaks: You have played 3B, SS, and 2B. I have read that you are learning other positions as well. Where are you most comfortable?
Toby Gardenhire: I played short in college, but I am pretty comfortable in all the infield positions now.
SethSpeaks: What has the adjustment to pro baseball been like for you? Do you think that the time you spent around the game makes it more easy or more difficult for you?
Toby Gardenhire: The toughest adjustment that I think people have to learn in pro ball is dealing with adversity. All of a sudden in pro ball you are thrown into a game where if you don't produce you get released and that's it. I know it is hard watching your friends and team mates get released, and it makes your mind start wondering about yourself. I never had to think about that before.
SethSpeaks: Now that you are in it, what are your thoughts on the Twins organization?
Toby Gardenhire: The Twins organization is great. I feel very lucky to be in an organization where I feel like I could actually be in the major leagues in a few years if improve enough. A lot of organizations can't say that.
SethSpeaks: What is the best part about a career in baseball?
Toby Gardenhire: You can't beat playing a game for your career. We get to sign autographs for little kids and people pay to watch us play. Its a pretty good job.
SethSpeaks: What is the most difficult part of life in baseball?
Toby Gardenhire: Losing is hard. I don't like losing, so when we do lose I usually take it pretty hard for a while. It usually takes me all night and sometimes more before I get over a loss. Also being away from your family and friends. It is really hard to keep up relationships when you are 2000 miles away. It takes a lot of work and understanding from everyone involved.
SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball movie?
Toby Gardenhire: Bull Durham
SethSpeaks: Favorite baseball book?
Toby Gardenhire: Field of Dreams
SethSpeaks: What are your goals for the rest of the 2007 season?
Toby Gardenhire: I would like to make the Florida State League playoffs and play every position on the field.
SethSpeaks: What do you think it would be like to put on a Twins uniform in a regular season game for the first time... particularly with your father as your manager?
Toby Gardenhire: It would be amazing to play in a big league game for any manager. Playing for my dad would be a pretty nice bonus.
SethSpeaks: Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself with the Twins fans around Minnesota and around the country?
Toby Gardenhire: I love baseball, I hope to be up there in Minnesota sometime soon.
Toby, thank you very much for taking so much of your time to answer these questions for me and the readers of this site. Obviously we hope you have had a terrific season and continued success. Best wishes for a strong 2007 campaign!
Do you have any thoughts or questions for Toby Gardenhire or me? If so, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a question or comment below.
If you would like to read any previous Q&A's, I have set up a new page that contains the links to all of them. Click here to see who all has done a Q&A with SethSpeaks.
Twins and their Minor League Updates
Here are the Twins updates from last night, including game reports
of their minor league affiliates.
Twins 7, Rangers 1
That was a very nice game for the Twins. The right players came up and produced at the right times!
It all starts on the mound, doesn't it? And coming off a big loss, who better to have on your side than Johan Santana. He's been pitching very well, and this time, he was as good as it gets. And, he got some run support. Santana gave up a second inning solo homer to Sammy Sosa (his 598th career homer!). Other than that, he went seven innings and gave up just four hits. He walked two and struck out a season-high 13 batters.
Pat Neshek struck out three in one inning. Then Joe Nathan struck out two in the 9th.
Glen Perkins was officially put on the Disabled List and the Twins purchased the contract of Carmen Cali. The move does make some sense. I personally don't think that Ricky Barrett is ready and hasn't pitched enough innings yet this year. I don't think that Cali is great, but he may be most ready to help right now. Cali does have big league experience. He is 0-0 with a 9.56 ERA in 16 innings for the Cardinals between 2004 and 2005.
Now we find out the Dennys Reyes just might have to go on the Disabled List too. Joe Christensen mentioned that Jason Miller's name is being mentioned. If Miller is called up, I will be very happy. He has done a lot for the organization and he deserves his first big league promotion and some innings. Again, I don't think he'll ever be a great, great pitcher, but it is a case where a guy has been in the Twins organization and has performed in several roles and been successful. That guy deserves and opportunity.
Now let's spend a couple of bullet points talking about the bats. In this game, you have to start with Justin Morneau. He singled his first time up. Then he hit a big two-run homer to give the Twins their first lead. In his next at bat, he hit a 3-run homer to give the team some breathing room. That's clutch.
In Morneau's next at bat, he came up with a chance for a third homer, this time against CJ Wilson, a lefty. He popped out. But then Torii Hunter stepped up and drilled his 11th homer of the year for the final run scoring. Morneau now has 13 homers.
Michael Cuddyer had a good game. He went 1-2 with two walks.
This afternoon, Boof Bonser will hope to continue his excellent pitching against Robinson Tejeda.
Jason Bartlett is needed. Anything to keep Nick Punto out of the lineup!!
Any other Twins Thoughts? E-mail me or leave Comments below.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Tuesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Brock Peterson, New Britain Rockcats
Tuesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Matt Garza, Rochester Red Wings
Tuesday - Red Wings 0, Norfolk 2 – Matt Garza had his second straight great start that turned into a loss. In this game, he gave up two first-inning unearned runs. That's it. Garza went seven innings and gave up three hits. He walked two and struck out four. Ricky Barrett pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Trent Oeltjen led the offense with a 2-3 day. He is now hitting .326. Matthew Lecroy went 1-1 with two walks. Josh Rabe was 1-2 with two walks.
WHO'S COLD? In his last six games, Denard Span is 1-21 (.048). In his last five games, Matt Moses is 2-16 (.125).
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Tuesday - Rockcats , Bowie – Brad Baker started and gave up three runs (1 earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. Jay Sawatski gave up a run on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. Jose Mijares did not give up a run in the final 1.1 innings. Brock Peterson went 3-4 with his 10th double, 4th homer and two RBI. Felix Molina went 1-3 with two walks and his second homer. Rashad Eldrige and Trevor Plouffe each hit a double.
WHO'S HOT? Brock Peterson has gone 9-16 (.563) in his last four games with three doubles and a homer. Looking to his past ten games, he has gone 16-39 (410).
FT MYERS MEMOS
Tuesday - Miracle 2, Palm Beach 3 – Jay Rainville falls to 2-5, but he had a quality start. He gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Kyle Aselton then went two shutout innings before David Shinskie pitched a scoreless ninth. Juan Portes went 2-4 with his first stolen base. Whit Robbins also went 2-5. Steve Tolleson went 2-5.
HOT? Ryan Mullins
has gone 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA in his last four starts. In 23.1
innings, he has walked five and struck out 23. Oswaldo Sosa
has not allowed a run in his last three starts. In those 19 innings,
he has given up nine hits, six walks and has 15 strikeouts.
Tuesday - Snappers 5, West Michigan 4 – Alex Burnett gave up four runs in the fourth inning on a Jeramy Laster grand slam. Other than those four batters that inning, Burnett was excellent. In total, he went seven innings and gave up the four runs on seven hits. He walked none and struck out three. Dan Leatherman pitched the 8th inning without giving up a run, and Robert Delaney, aka Mr. Automatic, recorded his 15th save with a perfect ninth. Burnett improves to 3-2 on the year. The offense came from a couple of familiar faces. Danny Valencia went 2-4 with his eighth double. Brian Dinkelman was 1-2 with two walks and his third homer.
WHO'S HOT? Brian Dinkelman now has a six game hitting streak. In those game, he has gone 9-20 (.450) with three doubles, a triple, a home run, three RBI and five walks. Danny Valencia has an 11 game hitting streak. In that time, he is 15-41 (.366) with four doubles and a homer. In his last 11 outings, Robert Delaney has 11 saves. In 13 innings, he has given up one run on six hits and two walks. He has struck out 12.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today. If you have any ideas for the site, people to try to get Q&As from, article concepts or more, please leave some Comments or send me an e-mail. I would appreciate your help. Have a terrific day!
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