Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Q&A with Mark Hamburger
Twins Pitching Prospect
Good morning all! The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy and pretty deep. I think today is a good day for a new Q&A with another Twins minor leaguer. In the past few years, the Twins have done a good job with signing free agents after the annual draft. Two years ago it was Dan Leatherman. Last year it was Robert Delaney. In 2007, it was the subject of today’s Q&A, Mark Hamburger. Unlike those other two, Hamburger is a Minnesota native. He went to Moundsview High School. He went on to a Mesabi Range Community College in Virginia, MN, where he had what his coach Brad Scott told me was a “Very Exceptional Career.” He broke many records and helped his team win a state championship, but he was not drafted. However, after a tryout camp at the Metrodome, the Twins offered him a contract and you can learn a little more about Mark Hamburger below. For more of his stats, click here.
I thought it would be fun for Twins fans to learn a little more about Mark Hamburger. Thankfully he was willing to answer some questions. If you would like, be sure to leave Comments below, or send me an e-mail. Note - if you are interested in viewing all of the Q&As that we have had at SethSpeaks.net, click here.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Minnesota, is asking who your favorite team was while you were growing up necessary?
Mark Hamburger: Even For my favorite baseball team, the answer to that is a definite no. I have always been a Twins fan!
SethSpeaks: Who were some of your favorite Twins players to follow?
I was always a Puckett fan growing up but other
than Kirby, I never followed any players too closely.
SethSpeaks: Did you get to a lot of Twins games growing up? Any great memories?
Mark Hamburger: Actually, the first Twins game that I ever went to was around the 8th grade. I was kind of a neighborhood kid growing up, where I spent most of my time around the yard and neighbor kids.
SethSpeaks: Now, I recall high school baseball in Minnesota. It meant cold, snow-outs and bad weather.
Mark Hamburger: I never really had too many stand out memories of high school ball. I would have to say that when I was younger during the Little League, that is where I have had the most fun playing baseball and the greatest memories. I think the high school coaches tried to make baseball too technical, I preferred just playing too have fun and that is definitely how Little League was.
SethSpeaks: Were you recruited much in high school? What led to your decision to go to Mesabi Range Community College in Eveleth?
Mark Hamburger: I may have been considered for recruitment but I had some pretty bad grades during high school so I was not someone who any larger colleges would have pursued. I decided to go to Mesabi up in Virginia MN once I had been to the college and had met with Coach Scott, the head coach of the team. He was pretty young and seemed like an awesome coach to play under. I also met a couple of the sophomores who seemed like they were very nice guys.
SethSpeaks: Did you ever visit the US Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth?
Mark Hamburger: Honestly, I had tickets to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame but never even took a trip out to Eveleth to see it.
SethSpeaks: At MRCC, you had a season in which you went 11-0 with a 0.65 ERA. Your team won the state tournament. You were all-division, all- state, all-regional and all-American. That had to be a pretty memorable season. Any thoughts on the season, the team and all the success?
Mark Hamburger: My thoughts during the beginning of the season were to get on the field and play with all my strength and hopefully benefit the team. It was mid season when I was 7-0 that I actually realized how well our team was doing and how well I was doing. I felt as though our team had the skill to go as far as we wanted, as long as we kept on playing the way that we had been during the beginning of the year. We also had a really close team where everybody was pretty good friends and always hung around each other which made the trips and games so much more fun. Our success in winning the State Championship was a feeling like no other, everybody was playing there hearts out and we left it all on the field. It was the funnest season that I have ever had with any team!
SethSpeaks: Did you think that, after a season like that, you might get drafted? Did you talk with any scouts?
I never considered getting drafted by any major
league teams, I was more thinking of the 4 year colleges that might want to
pick me up. I never talked to any scouts from the major's.
SethSpeaks: Last June, you went to an open try-out at the Metrodome. Of the 110 participants, you were the only one that the Twins signed. Tell us a little a bout what happens at the tryout.
Mark Hamburger: I can still remember those two days like they were yesterday. It started with my friend Justin Hemauer and I heading down towards the Metrodome in a bunch of traffic, trying to find a way around the traffic and then getting lost. So we finally arrived and thought we were going to be late and not be able to get in the doors but luckily right as we got to the gates, they were just filtering in the big crowd. We waited nervously until they told us where our positions would meet and what we would be doing for the try-out. I stepped on the mound with the scout Mark Wilson behind me with the Radar Gun, it just so happen to be that Mr. Wilson had also seen me when I was a senior in high school and was the man who told Coach Scott about me. So I hummed a few pitches and Mr. Wilson asked me a couple of questions and told me to make sure I suit up tomorrow and be back for the second day of try outs. Both my friend Justin and I got called back so we went down the next day an hour early so we wouldn't be late and continued on with the try out. I pitched for two innings. In one of the innings I did really well and the next I kind of struggled, so they threw me in for one more inning. I ended up doing well in the 3rd inning so about a half an hour later, Mr. Wilson called me over and asked if I would like to sign with the Twins and head down to Spring Training. I agreed in an instant!
SethSpeaks: Secondly, tell us a little bit about how the Twins went about offering you a contract. Do they tell you right away? Did they call you later?
Mark Hamburger: They asked me during the middle of the try out if I would like too sign and then came over to my house later in the evening to sign the contract.
SethSpeaks: How long did it take to accept their offer to sign you? Did you have some other options for baseball?
Mark Hamburger: It took me no longer than 5 seconds to say yes too the offer. I was looking to go down to Wayne State in Nebraska where my friend Justin plays but I hadn't signed any agreements.
SethSpeaks: After you signed, you reported to Ft. Myers and the GCL Twins. Tell us a little about those first days with the organization.
Mark Hamburger: The first couple days down in training were kind of difficult, I was just trying to find some friends and since everyone had been there for quite a while, they were already pretty close but everyone on the team was pretty nice so after a week or so, I felt very comfortable.
SethSpeaks: You pitched in 8 games for the GCL Twins and went 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA. How did you feel about your first year in pro ball?
Mark Hamburger: Pro ball is definitely a change from any of the leagues that I have ever played in, batters are very consistent on hitting, so you have to focus a lot more in practice to develop pitch control and too become all around smarter when your on the mound.
SethSpeaks: Since the GCL season ended, what have you been up to? How soon before you started getting ready for the 2008 season?
Mark Hamburger: Since I came back to Minnesota, I looked for a job and am now a server at Champps, and I have been pushing myself to about 5 days a week in the weight room trying to stay in shape. I rested for the first couple weeks of break but then felt really lazy so I hopped back into things.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little bit about yourself as a pitcher. What pitches do you throw? What would you consider your out pitch? What areas do you feel you most need to work on?
Fastball because it has decent movement, but along
with the fastball, I have been throwing a slider, curve and a changeup. I would
say that my fastball is my outpitch, and the areas that I feel like I should
work on are keeping the ball low and trying to mix up my pitches better to keep
hitters off balance.
SethSpeaks: Who are some of the people that have helped you get to this point (coaches, teachers, etc.)?
Mark Hamburger: My main support is definitely my dad. He actually built a mound in our backyard so that when it's warm outside, I would have no problem staying loose and practicing even if it's by myself. He has always been the one that has encouraged me to stick with baseball and to do as best I can. I pretty much owe my dad for my baseball career. I also thank God for giving me a healthy body so that I can still play the game of baseball.
SethSpeaks: What has been the best part, so far, about a life in baseball?
Mark Hamburger: The best part about the life in baseball is waking up in the morning and actually hopping out of bed because I know I going to go play the greatest game in the world.
SethSpeaks: What has been the most difficult part so far?
Mark Hamburger: The most difficult part of my experience has been riding 2 hours to a game, getting ready to pitch and then it's starts pouring rain and the game gets canceled before I can even hit the mound. Other than that, I have loved every minute of it.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Movie?
I have a couple favorites. They are the
"Rookie" with Kostner and "The Natural"
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Book?
The "Luckiest Man, the Life and Death of Lou
Gehrig." or an old book from when I was younger, "the Kid Who Only
SethSpeaks: What would it be like to put on a Twins uniform in a regular season game for the first time?
Mark Hamburger: I can't even imagine right now, I get chills even thinking about it. It would be the best day of my life, win or lose. Hopefully winning though.
SethSpeaks: Anything else you would like to tell Twins fans about yourself?
Mark Hamburger: I would rather play for the Twins more than any other team in the Major League and I thank God that I get this amazing opportunity.
A big thank you to Mark Hamburger for taking the time to answer all of these questions. We wish Mark well in his offseason and for a healthy and successful 2008 season!
Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today!