Monday, January 8, 2007
Q&A with Kyle Waldrop
Ft. Myers Pitching Prospect
Good morning! I am very happy and excited to bring you yet another Q&A of a Twins minor league prospect. This is a repeat Q&A guy, and I think that you will really enjoy the questions and the responses.
Kyle Waldrop was the Twins third first round draft choice in 2004 out of Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Back in early May, Kyle did a Q&A for this site which gave us a chance to get to know him, where he's from, what he throws, and more. Since then, he went 6-3 with a 3.85 ERA in Beloit before moving up to Hi-A Ft. Myers where he made seven more starts. While there, he went 3-2 with a 3.57 ERA. (If you would like, you can check out his career numbers here.) Those of you who have followed this site's weekly NFL "Expert" Picks know that Kyle was the run-away champion among our panel. I thought it would be fun to catch up with Kyle to see how he felt about his season and also pick his brain on several other topics.
Did you know that three Twins prospects were named to the EA Sports 2004 High School All-American Team. They were: Kyle Waldrop who "walked only seven batters while striking out 118 and had a 14-0 record and 0.15 ERA". Jay Rainville who went 9-0 with "a hard-to-believe 0.12 ERA." Finally, Trevor Plouffe who "hit for a career average near .500, including .481 this year with six homers and 29 RBI." Waldrop was named the Tennessee Player of the year where we find out that he also "hit .493 with 16 HR and 67 rbi and added a state leading 26 doubles while leading his team to a second consecutive AAA title."
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 Kyle Waldrop for taking the time to answer some questions for us! I really hope that you all enjoy the Q&As. If you have any comments for me or Mr. Waldrop, 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. Maybe Kyle will stop by once or twice and answer any other questions you may have.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Alright Kyle, when I asked if you would be interested in participating in the NFL "Expert" Picks panel, you happily said that you would, but that you didn't really think you would do well. Well, as I am typing this, you have an amazing nine game lead through 14 weeks of the NFL season. Time to come out with the truth... you are a football genius and you were just bluffing, right?
Kyle Waldrop: Well after just completing the full season, I guess I would have to say that I did much better than I expected. I hadn't followed the NFL that much until this season, but I got out to an early lead and somehow kept it up. I just hope I can keep it up next year.
SethSpeaks: To the baseball portion of the Q&A... at the start of the season, you were sent back to Beloit. How did you feel about that decision at the time?
Kyle Waldrop: At the time I wasn't pleased to be sent back there. I thought that I had a decent shot to start out in Ft. Myers, but on the second to last day of Spring Training I found out that I was going back to Beloit which was somewhat disappointing. I just wanted to work as hard as I could to get back to the warm weather as fast as possible.
SethSpeaks: In retrospect, after the complete season, do you think that the Twins brass made the right decision? Were you able to accomplish some things at Beloit that you really needed the time to do?
Kyle Waldrop: I think they made the right decision. Even though I threw over 150 innings my first year in Beloit, my season was too much like a roller-coaster and I never got in a consistent groove to prove to them that I could handle the next level. I needed to get more consistent with my offspeed pitches and trust my stuff more and that's what I accomplished in my second stint with Beloit.
SethSpeaks: How happy were you to be moved up to Ft. Myers in July? How were you told that you had been promoted, and had you been expecting it?
Kyle Waldrop: I was very excited to get moved to Ft. Myers. Most of the team is consisted with guys that I had played with in the previous year in Beloit, so I knew that I'd fit right in once I got there. I got told I was moving up after a game I pitched in the Quad Cities and got rocked that game, so it was the last thing I was expecting at the time. It was the fastest I had gotten over a bad game, that's for sure.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe the differences between the Midwest League and the Florida State League?
Kyle Waldrop: The age and experience of most of the players is the most obvious and the main difference. Also, in the Florida State League there are a couple more hitters in the lineup that can really hurt you, so you have to be more focused throughout the lineup. The crowds are quite a bit smaller as well.
SethSpeaks: You are pretty well known for your control. Especially in Beloit where you had just 17 walks. However, you also had 14 hit batters. So, was that a lack of control or a concerted effort to pitch inside?
Kyle Waldrop: I think that mostly it was extra effort to pitch inside because at times my first year, I strayed from doing so. Also, my 2-seam fastball seemed to have a lot more movement early on than it usually does and it got away from me at times.
SethSpeaks: Do you pitch differently against right-handed hitters compared to left-handed hitters? I noticed that your splits against each were pretty similar but you had more strikeouts against right-handers.
Kyle Waldrop: Typically I try to pitch them pretty similar. Obviously, when I see certain hitters tendencies on either side of the plate I'll pitch to his weakness. But for the most part I rely on my 2-seam fastball and throwing changeup's to both hitters. As for the strikeouts, I tend to throw more sliders with 2 strikes against righties.
SethSpeaks: In April, I asked you what your goals for 2006 were and you said to be more consistent in every outing than in 2005. Do you feel you were successful with that goal?
Kyle Waldrop: For the most I think I did a decent job. There were times where I felt like the same pitcher that I was in '05, and I didn't finish the season like I wanted to in Ft. Myers, but overall I was happy with how I did compared to '05.
SethSpeaks: Following the season, you went to the Instructional League. Did you go there with a couple of goals that you and the organization wanted you to work on, or was it simply a way to get more throwing in? (I guess I'm just curious what all happens at Instructs)
Kyle Waldrop: We always pick out 1 or 2 things to work on at Instructs before we ever show up. This year I was working on speeding my arm up some hopefully for some increased velocity next season. Also, I've been trying to get my arm motion more consistent so the hitter can't see the ball until delivery.
SethSpeaks: One of your teammates, and I believe good friends, Jay Rainville missed the entire 2006 season after having some surgery last spring. I know he was at Instructs as well. Can you give us an update on where he is at in his rehab, how he is feeling and if he might be ready by spring training?
Kyle Waldrop: From a rehab standpoint I believe he's pretty much through. He threw in 5 or so games at instructs and by the final game was sitting in the high 80's and touching 91. I believe the velocity will eventually get back to where it was because he's a hard worker, but it might take a little time. And he should be ready to go in Spring Training.
SethSpeaks: So, what have you been doing since getting home from Instructional League? Did you give yourself a little time away or jump right back into preparations for 2007?
Kyle Waldrop: I took a couple weeks off just to relax and get my mind off baseball for a change. I played quite a bit of golf, spent time with all my friends back home, and just tried to get away from everything. Then I started working out and getting myself into shape for next season..
SethSpeaks: Do the Twins give you an offseason workout plan, or are you on your own?
Kyle Waldrop: They give us a guide to use throughout the offseason and it is very thorough so I've stuck to that for the most part. I do have a few exercises that I've for many years now that I still do, but they do give us a great guideline to follow.
SethSpeaks: How much do you try to keep up with what is going on with the Twins big league club? Do you get updates in the clubhouse or do you follow such things on your own? Or, do you not even worry about that?
Kyle Waldrop: Whenever they're on TV and are still playing when we get done with our games, we normally stay and watch the rest of their games. However, if they're on TV, I keep up with every game they have along with all our other affiliates on my computer each night.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe the communication within the Twins organization? I know that Terry Ryan or Tom Kelly show up at the affiliates from time to time. Do they talk to you? Do the let you know there thoughts or what you need to work on, or is that all done through the coaching staff?
Kyle Waldrop: That's one thing that sets our organization apart from a lot of others in my opinion. Everyone from the top to the bottom truly cares for all of the players and their development. Whenever Terry Ryan, Tom Kelly, or any coordinator comes into town, they're not afraid to tell you what you need to work on. I think that's the best way to do it, be up front with everyone.
SethSpeaks: Do you feel any extra pressure because of your status as a 1st round pick? Is that internal, or does any come from the organization?
Kyle Waldrop: I think most of the pressure comes from the media (websites, magazines, etc.). Obviously the organization wants you to do well, especially if you're a top pick, but they don't put any extra pressure on me than what's already there from everyone else.
SethSpeaks: So, I'm googling your name and I find your MySpace page. Do you spend a lot of time on there? Is that the best way to communicate with friends, family and former teammates?
Kyle Waldrop: I don't spend a lot of time on there, but it is a good way to keep up with my friends and teammates in the offseason.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Christmas movie?
Kyle Waldrop: A Christmas Story
SethSpeaks: Any fun Christmas traditions that you would want to share?
Kyle Waldrop: I really don't have any Christmas traditions that are anything unique
SethSpeaks: Do you keep track of what is going on with the free agency market right now? How cool would it be to be a free agent pitcher right now? What are your thoughts on the money being spent in baseball this offseason?
Kyle Waldrop: I think to be a free agent pitcher right now, you'd be feeling pretty good. The market seems to keep going up and with the new ballparks being built and how much they're costing, I don't see the money going down anytime soon.
SethSpeaks: As we are also looking to the New Year, have you already started looking to the 2007 season? What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
Kyle Waldrop: I am looking forward to next year. It's a big year for me, like all the years are in development in the minors, but I've been thinking forward to it for some time now.
SethSpeaks: You know, Kevin Slowey was in my NFL "Expert" Pick panel a year ago and he advanced from Ft. Myers, to New Britain, to Rochester this year. Now that you are in my "Expert" panel, are you hoping to make the same kind of move up the Twins system in 2007? I'm sure there is some correlation! :)
Kyle Waldrop: I can only hope that I have the year the he had this year. It was unbelievable how good he was and the jumps he made, but he deserved everything he got this past year. He did make some strides at the end of this year to get out of last place in the NFL Picks, so I have to applaud him for that.
Kyle, thank you so much for taking some of your time to answer these questions for me and the readers of this site. Obviously we hope you have had a terrific offseason and enjoy the rest of it. Best wishes for a strong 2007 campaign!
Do you have any thoughts or questions for Kyle Waldrop 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.
Be sure to stop by another new Twins blogs and give it a shot. Who Loves the Twins is a blog written by a Minnesota high school student. Just a couple of entries in, and it looks like he has some potential!
And finally, take a look at this video... That's got to hurt!!
That is it for today. By the way, 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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