Monday, May 5, 2008
Q&A with Steve Singleton
Twins Infield Prospect
Good morning everyone! Before we get into the Q&A, a quick congratulations to Rochester’s Darnell McDonald who was just named the International League’s Batter of the Week. In the last week, he went 13-29 (.448) with two homers and 14 RBI. This is McDonald’s eighth season in the International League.
It is time for another Q&A with a Twins minor leaguer. This Q&A is with Steve Singleton. Singleton is known as a great glove guy. A middle infielder that is known as a great glove can be a good thing, but it almost always either followed by or assumed that it means that a guy can't hit. Steve Singleton has a great glove, but the man can also swing the bat. A 2005 Twins draft pick, Singleton has been one of the best, most consistent hitters for the Beloit Snappers this season. After suffering through an injury-plagued 2007, Singleton appears to be healthy in 2008 and is off to a fast start, a start that could see him reach Ft. Myers sometime during the season. As you will see below, Singleton clearly spent some time with my questions and really did a great job with his response. I know I appreciate it, and I'm sure if you're reading this, you do too. So thank you to Steve Singleton and best wishes for a strong remainder of the 2008 season.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Oakland, California, can I assume I know who your favorite team was as you were growing up? Who were some of your favorite players?
Steve Singleton: I'm kind of in between on who my favorite team was. I was born in SF and my dad is a big Giants fan so I always have loved the Giants. My first games as a kid were watching Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Matt Williams, Robbie Thompson and Jose Uribe at Candlestick park. So, that said, I'm a lifelong Giants fan. But I moved to Oakland at a young age and grew up surrounded by A's fans. I became a big A's fan over time. I always loved watching Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco. Those were probably my favorite players growing up.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little bit about your high school career. Have you always played the middle infield?
Steve Singleton: I went to Bishop O'dowd HS in Oakland. I made the varsity squad as a freshman and didn't really have a position at the time. I was one of those do it all little leaguers who played anywhere the coach needed me. Since I could hit and play anywhere I was valuable enough to make the team. I started the year as the right fielder. By about the third week we needed a third baseman so they put me there. I had played middle infield but it wasn't my primary spot yet. We also had Jonny Ash ( 2b AAA Astros) playing shortstop as a senior and an all league second baseman so i wasn't cracking that middle. I played short my sophomore year and have played ss/2b ever since.
Seth Side Note - Bishop O'Dowd High School is the alma mater of three current or former big league ball players; Ryan Drese, Kevin Maas and Greg Norton.
SethSpeaks: Did you play other sports or participate in other extracurricular activities?
Steve Singleton: I played football my sophomore year. The coach asked me to come out and I thought it would be fun. I played tailback/slot and safety on the jv squad. I was called up to varsity for playoffs, as a practice dummy for the most part. But it was a lot of fun and a great experience. There's nothing like strapping on the equipment for a game after a long week of practice. Unfortunately, I had to stop my junior and senior year due to travel ball obligations.
SethSpeaks: Were you heavily recruited out of high school, and what made you decide to go to the University of San Diego?
Steve Singleton: I was pretty heavily recruited out of high school. I wasn't a top 100 prospect or anything like that but I had a lot of options. After the Area Code Games in '02 I had narrowed my choices down to Stanford, Baylor, Notre Dame, Duke, and Vanderbilt. It wasn't until the fall of my senior year that San Diego contacted me. I had never heard of the school before so I didn't give them much of a shot at first. But as time went on I did my research on them and realized they were an up and coming program that was really serious about their future and getting their guys to professional baseball. For me, that was my goal so I had coach Rich Hill take an in home visit and setup an official trip. I fell in love with the school, the program, the campus, everything. I didn't even take another trip and called him a week later with my commitment. I have absolutely no regrets about choosing USD.
SethSpeaks: If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing?
Steve Singleton: If I wasn't playing baseball right now I would definitely be traveling the world. I wanted to study abroad, but obviously couldn't due to baseball. I've always been wanted to go other place and see other cultures. I wanted to go to either spain, Italy, Argentina, or Brazil.
SethSpeaks: What was your major, and do you intend to continue with your education?
Steve Singleton: I majored in Sociology. I still have some school to finish up. I do plan on finishing that but right now my focus is definitely on baseball and making it to Minnesota.
Steve Singleton: I hadn't spoken to any of the Twins scouts prior to the draft, so it was a little surprising when they called me before the tenth round. I had been talking to a lot of teams and had heard a lot of different things. I was actually under the impression that I was going to be a sure fire top ten round pick. There were a few teams who told me anywhere between rd 3 and 6. There were a handful of others who told me that I wouldn't slip below the eighth round on their boards. But, when it all boiled down, the Twins liked me the most and I went in the 11th. It is still something I don't quite understand but I am happy with where I am here with the Twins. It's a good organization and I feel that I have a really good chance at becoming a big leaguer with Minnesota.
SethSpeaks: You signed pretty quickly and reported to Tennessee to play for the Elizabethton Twins. What was the adjustment to pro baseball like for you?
Steve Singleton: I wanted to get my pro career started so I signed within a few days of the draft. For me, the biggest adjustment was the lifestyle. I go from college where you have a hundred things you have to do and manage each day on and off the field, to pro ball where it's more laid back and you can focus on what you need to do to be the best baseball player possible. As far as the game itself, I didn't have that hard of a time adjusting because I was fresh off a 60 game season that ended about two weeks before short season started. The talent in pro ball was a lot batter than college, but some of the players weren't as polished yet.
SethSpeaks: Who were/are some of the people who are most instrumental in helping you get to this point in your career?
Steve Singleton: My family, first and foremost, is the biggest reason for me being where I'm at in baseball and life. The support that I've had from them, especially in regards to baseball, has been incredible. They stand behind me 100%. Whether it's my dad throwing his arm out to me at the cage or my mom giving me mental advice and helping me look at things in a different light, they're awesome. My brother has always been there to give me that competitive streak that I have, which is one of the reasons I am successful. I'm one of the most competitive people I know, in anything, baseball or not, and that comes from me and him growing up for 16 years under the same roof. Outside of my family, Rich Hill, my college coach, is another person who I give a lot of thanks to for where I'm at in my career. He is a great motivator and really pushed me to get the most out of my game. He made me a tougher and smarter player and person.
SethSpeaks: How would you describe yourself as a player. What would you say are your strengths, and what areas do you feel you need to most improve on as you advance?
Steve Singleton: I am a middle infielder with a good left-handed bat that can hit for average and some power. I'm not going to hit moon shots all over the yard but I'll get a good amount of extra base hits and I can drive in and score runs. I think my glove plays at both second and short, although my arm is a bit more suited for second right now. I feel that my offense and competitive nature are my strengths. I feel I can hit any pitcher at any level, and I have to feel that way in order to be the type of hitter that I want to be. I expect a lot out of myself. I want to be better than everybody on the field everyday and I want to win. Like I said before, my competitive edge, I believe, makes me a better player. I would like to work on limiting some of my errors from the last two seasons. I have always been regarded as a guy with a good glove and I take pride in my defense, so that's a part of my game I would like to improve on. Also, I want to steal more bases and become more of a threat and a presence on the base paths.
SethSpeaks: You moved up to Beloit last season, but you were hurt to start the season. How frustrating was dealing with the injuries?
Steve Singleton: I had just come off a shoulder injury that kept me down in extended spring to start the year. I came to Beloit and they put me at short for the first month, with a few starts at second. I had played short in every start in e-town and college so I was still only a shortstop, in my mind. After I had racked up about 10 throwing errors they permanently moved me to second. It was a difficult change at first, but now I am really comfortable at second and it has become my primary position. It was frustrating making the move but my arm just couldn't handle shortstop. It was too weak and would get too sore. I worked hard to rehab and avoid any surgery and continued that work this offseason and my arm strength is steadily getting back to where I started out. I no longer have soreness in my shoulder and i trust my arm again.
SethSpeaks: What were some of your goals coming into the 2008 spring training, and what did you do over the offseason to prepare?
Steve Singleton: It was my primary goal to make to make the Ft. Myers Miracle squad. That didn't happen. But it's ok, I didn't jump off the ledge. I felt that my year in Beloit last season was good enough to make the move to Ft. Myers but with the amount of middle infielders we have in the organization right now, that just didn't happen. I also set an offensive goal of hitting .375 for the year. I know that seems like a high number but I have very high expectations of myself. If I shoot high and miss, I'll probably still finish pretty strong. I set out to limit my k-bb ratio as well. It was about 6-1 last season, so far I'm around 2-1 so I'm happy with that. My offseason preparation included a mixture of weightlifting and stretching/yoga for the physical prep. I also read a couple books on the mental side of the game and life in general. Then there's the countless number of swings in the cage with dad. He keeps my stroke short.
Steve Singleton: I'd say it's a combination of health and comfort. This is my second season in the league so I have definitely adjusted to what this league has to offer. I am very comfortable here and confident that I will succeed here. It definitely helps to start the season healthy and break camp with a squad. After you play with an injury, you learn to really love being healthy and not take your health for granted. I am much more confident in the field because I am healthy and it's one less thing to worry about so I can really focus in on my offense.
SethSpeaks: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Steve Singleton: I want to be a mid-season all star in the Midwest League. I'd like to get moved up to Ft. Myers at half but that isn't in my control, it depends on what happens above me. So wherever I end up in the second half, I want to keep swinging the bat well and finish at that .375 mark. I've also wanted to win a championship. I've come a few innings away in each of my first two seasons, so that would be a nice way to finish this year; a ring.
SethSpeaks: You were drafted as a SS, but this year you have been playing a lot of 2B. Do you have a preference?
Steve Singleton: I've always thought of myself as a SS, but with all the second base I've been playing the past two seasons it's hard for me to say I'm one or the other. I wouldn't say I have a preference anymore, but it definitely was SS until late last season when I became comfortable at second. Whichever is my route to the big club is my preference. I love both and feel I can play both.
SethSpeaks: What are your hobbies away from the baseball field?
Steve Singleton: Off the field I'm a pretty laid back guy. I like to bbq on off days. Golf and bowling are pretty big with me. I've yet to bowl 200 or break 80 on the links but I have bowled a 188 and shot an 82. So I'm not bad at either. I'd like to get better. We do a lot of golfing on days off, but it's been to cold so far this year. In spring training I had a few battles on the lanes with Danny Valencia and Joe Benson. They both have the advantage on me right now but that will all change. They've got their own balls, I'm rolling house balls. Wait until next spring, it's a whole new game.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Movie?
Steve Singleton: My favorite baseball movie is "Major League 2". Hiroshi "Kamikaze" Tanaka, enough said.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Book?
Steve Singleton: The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance by H.A. Dorfman.
SethSpeaks: What will it be like to put on a Twins uniform for the first time in a regular season game?
Singleton: I can't imagine what it's
going to be like. I can't wait just to get a spring training ab with the big
club. It will really be a dream come true. I've worked so hard for so long to
get there, and I don't think I'm that far. I just pray that I can stay healthy
and stay consistent, let the things which I can't control happen as they may.
SethSpeaks: What is one thing that you would like Twins fans to know about you?
Steve Singleton: I would like fans to know that I am a normal, easy going, down to earth person who has a true passion and love for the game of baseball.
A huge thank you to Steve Singleton 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!