Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Q&A with Dan Osterbrock
Twins Minor League Pitching Prospect
Good morning everyone! Thank you very much for again stopping by SethSpeaks.net. I hope you all have had a great 2008, and that 2009 brings you much more positive times.
In case you missed it yesterday, there is plenty of new SethSpeaks information. I did a Live Chat yesterday afternoon for about 100 minutes. I was able to answer a lot of questions, and if you want to read the entire chat, click here. Then last night, we had another SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. By clicking here, you can listen to the whole show. Guests included Twins pitching prospects Kyle Waldrop, Jeff Manship and Twins blogger Parker Hageman of Over the Baggy.
And with that at your finger tips, I am excited to announce todayís Q&A with another Twins pitching prospect, lefty Dan Osterbrock. The Twins drafted him out of the University of Cincinnati in the 7th round. He went to Elizabethton and pitched so well that he was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year. He is a control artist who simply knows how to pitch. He is another successful college pitcher in the Twins system, and it will be fun to watch how he develops as he moves up through the organization. I thought it would be fun to find out more about him, and what his philosophies are on pitching. I think he did a great job responding, and hope you will enjoy it!
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Cincinnati, do I even need to ask who your favorite team was. Who were some of your favorite players to follow?
Dan Osterbrock: The Cincinnati Reds have always been my favorite team ever since I began following major league baseball back in 1994. My family had a greenhouse business and some of my fondest memories as a kid were picking tomatoes with my grandpa and listening to the Reds on the radio when they made it to the playoffs in 1995. I would have to say that Bret Boone was my favorite player at that time.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little about your high school career. Did you play other positions besides pitching?
Dan Osterbrock: I played my high school ball at Colerain High School. We were more of a football school so baseball was overlooked. I really doubt that too many of my classmates know I was drafted. We were 7-17 my senior year and I actually had a losing record as a pitcher (4-5). When I wasnít pitching I played centerfield and some first base.
SethSpeaks: Did you participate in other activities in high school?
Dan Osterbrock: I never seriously played any other sports. I enjoy playing basketball but was never that good at it so I just played rec basketball with my friends and I would scrimmage the high school girls basketball team to help them out.
SethSpeaks: You stayed home and went to the University of Cincinnati. Were you heavily recruited, or was that an easy choice for you?
Dan Osterbrock: Going to the University of Cincinnati was an easy decision for me because Iíve always been a huge fan of the Bearcats. My dream as a kid was to play basketball at UC for Bob Huggins but unfortunately I wasnít that good and I stopped growing. I was only recruited by colleges around the Ohio area but even if bigger schools had recruited me I still wouldíve stayed home and gone to UC. A few years back I got the schoolís logo tattooed on my back, so Iím a Bearcat for life.
SethSpeaks: You went 18-3 your final two seasons as a Bearcat. Those must have been some pretty solid teams playing behind you. Tell us about those seasons.
Dan Osterbrock: These past few years playing for the University of Cincinnati have been the greatest baseball days of my life so far. Iíve been lucky to be surrounded by great coaches and teammates. This past year we set a school record for most wins in a season and made it to the conference championship game. Even though we were one win away from making it to the national tournament we had a very successful year and I have many great memories.
SethSpeaks: You had good control your first two seasons in college, but during your junior season, you had 10 walks and 74 strikeouts in 99 innings pitched. Did something click mechanically or mentally that made finding that kind of control achievable?
Dan Osterbrock: I never really changed anything through my college career. My coaches Brian Cleary and Chris Reilly always preached that teams, no matter how good they are, are not going to hit their way into a lot of runs. Teams score their runs when pitchers give up too many walks. They would tell me that if I threw strikes and the defense did their part then I would have success. As a team we were second in the nation in fewest walks allowed and won 39 games so they were right.
SethSpeaks: What was your college major, and do you intend to continue your education?
Dan Osterbrock: Since I grew up around tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce at my familyís greenhouse business I decided I wanted to follow in my grandpaís footsteps so I majored in horticulture in hopes to one day continue the business. Unfortunately due to rising costs in heating and decreasing demand of produce we went out of business. So right now Iím not sure if I should continue with horticulture or look for a different career path.
SethSpeaks: The Twins drafted you in the 7th round in June. Had you been talking to the Twins and their scouts, or were other teams talking to you a lot?
Dan Osterbrock: Throughout my junior year I was talking to a lot of teams but Jeremy Booth, the Twinsí scout that covered the Cincinnati area, seemed to show the most interest. As draft day neared I sat down and had lunch with Jeremy and thatís when it became evident to me that there was a strong possibility that the Twins might draft me.
SethSpeaks: What was the draft like for you, knowing you would be drafted sometime? Where were you expecting to be selected?
Dan Osterbrock: Like I said before, we had a lot of success this past year at Cincinnati so my focus wasnít on the draft. The only thing I was concerned about was winning a Big East Championship but I did hear from a few scouts that I might get drafted in rounds 6-10 so when I went in the 7th round it didnít come as a surprise.
SethSpeaks: You reported to Elizabethton and pitched incredibly. You were named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year. Can you describe the on-field adjustment between Division I baseball and the Appalachian League?
Dan Osterbrock: After my second or third start In Elizabethton I learned that rookie ball was a lot different than college. It seemed as though the young hitters of rookie ball were trying to live up to their reputations as being power hitters or line drive hitters so I was able to take advantage of their impatience at the plate by expanding the zone and getting them to chase at bad pitches. In college, the teams played more small ball which was the complete opposite style as pro ball.
SethSpeaks: What were the adjustments off the field to becoming a professional baseball player and that lifestyle (bus rides, pay checks, etc.)?
Dan Osterbrock: Moving to Elizabethton was the first time I ever moved out of Cincinnati so I was a bit nervous but more eager to get away and see what life outside of Cincinnati was like. I lived in a house with Shooter Hunt, and three Australians, James Beresford, Jarrod Eacott, and Brad Tippett. This was also the first time Iíve ever played with Hispanics but it was fun trying to learn some Spanish while playing with them. Getting my first pay check was an unusual feeling because I was being paid to do something that Iíve always loved but itís something I can get use to.
SethSpeaks: 8 walked, 104 strikeouts in 75 innings. Again, those numbers are amazing at any level. Obviously "control" and not allowing free passes is a big part of your pitching style. Tell us a little more about your pitching philosophy. What are you thinking when you're preparing for a game and then on the mound?
Dan Osterbrock: Well I havenít been an overpowering pitcher since high school so in college I learned how to pitch rather than just throw the ball. So my philosophy is simple: Throw the ball over the plate while not letting them hit it too hard and then let my defense make the play. It has worked so I donít plan on changing anytime soon. My goal every time I take the mound is to put my team in a position where they can win the game without doing too much.
SethSpeaks: What pitches do you throw? Which pitches are you working on, and which pitch do you consider your "out-pitch?"
Dan Osterbrock: I throw a fastball, change-up, slider, and curve. This past summer I started trying a new grip for my curve so I can locate it better and my out pitch is the change. I like to pitch backwards a lot. Start off with a couple change-ups then finish them with a fastball.
SethSpeaks: What were your goals coming into the Appy League, and how did you feel about your pro debut?
Dan Osterbrock: Coming into the Appy League I had no idea what the competition would be like so if I told you I was expecting to be pitcher of the year then Iíd be lying. I didnít set my goals high, I just wanted to compete and fit in. Iím very proud of my accomplishments this past year but Iím aware that one good year isnít going to guarantee me a shot at the majors so I have to continue to work hard and stay healthy and hope for many more years like this one.
SethSpeaks: The E-Twins had another remarkable season, and you were instrumental in the team winning the Appy League championship. Talk a little about the talent on the team and what it was like to be a part of it?
Dan Osterbrock: This E-Town team was probably the most talented team that Iíve ever played on. We did not have a single weak link on the team. Almost every guy on the team had some college experience so whenever a player got hurt we had another skilled player right behind him. This was the first ever championship Iíve ever won so this was a memorable team.
SethSpeaks: What have you done during the offseason? After a long year of baseball, were you able to get away from the game for awhile, and when do you start preparing for the 2009 season?
Dan Osterbrock: After the long year I definitely had to get away so I went back to work at Spring Grove Cemetery where Iíve been working for the past five years. Itís the second largest cemetery in the nation (733 acres) so thereís plenty of grass to cut or trees to plant or people to bury to keep my mind off baseball. Iíve already started running to get my body in shape and Iím going to start throwing again in January.
SethSpeaks: The Twins have had a lot of success drafting college pitchers (Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Matt Garza, etc.). They are known as an organization that does a great job of developing pitchers. Is that exciting for you, or a challenge, something that you look forward to?
Dan Osterbrock: Knowing that the Twins have a reputation of finding talented pitchers and making them great is definitely exciting and Iím looking forward to seeing what kind of pitcher I turn out to be.
SethSpeaks: Have you set any goals for yourself for 2009? Are there certain statistics that you look at?
Dan Osterbrock: I havenít set any goals yet but I would like to stay healthy and put up the same numbers as I did this past year while trying to lower my ERA. A statistic that I think is overlooked a lot is WHIP because it takes into consideration not just how many hits you give up in an inning but also walks so I look at that one a lot and try to keep it as low as possible.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Book?
Dan Osterbrock: Never read one.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Movie?
Dan Osterbrock: The Natural.
SethSpeaks: Is there anything else you think that Twins fans might find interesting about you?
Dan Osterbrock: If baseball doesnít work out I might consider a career being a mortician.
A thank you goes to Dan Osterbrock for taking the time to answer 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 New Years!