Interview With Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Prospect Nick Kingham

By: Andrew Martin
Twitter: @HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Stockpiling quality young pitching is always a priority for a losing team trying to change their fortunes and culture. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who last had a winning season in 1992, have recently drafted highly touted arms like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole to jumpstart their rebuilding process. However, the team is also high on Nick Kingham, another recent draftee, who they believe has a bright future in Pittsburgh.
Kingham, a tall right-handed starter, was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of high school in Las Vegas. According to Pirates prospect site Buried Treasure, Kingham was planning to attend the University of Oregon, but was convinced to turn pro when Pittsburgh offered him a generous signing bonus.
About to turn 21 later this week, Kingham possesses a low-nineties fastball and promising secondary pitches. He impressed in his first two professional seasons in short-season ball, combining for a 2.07 ERA. This past year he made 27 starts in Class-A, and held his own, posting a 6-8 record and 4.39 ERA, while striking out nearly a batter an inning.
Last year I had a chance to interview Kingham and get to know the up-and-coming Pirates prospect a little better.

How did you first become interested in baseball? My parents; my Dad grew up playing high school ball. He never played college, but he got me my first interest in it. I started playing it and stuck with it.

Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?
Nope. No favorite team and no favorite player. I was just a fan of the game.

Do you model yourself after any current player?
(Josh) Beckett would be the closest now. I mean it is who I like the most now, but it is pretty hard to emulate somebody that great. I try.

How did you know the Pirates were interested in drafting you?
My scout called me when I was at work with my Dad. He called to tell me that they had drafted me and that they would be in touch. I heard from them two weeks later.

After you signed, did you do anything special for yourself or your family?
We had a few people over two nights before I left, but nothing too special.

What type of pitches do you throw?
Just a fastball, curve and change right now. The fastball is definitely the most important pitch. It’s sitting 91, 92, but reaching 94 or 94.

How has minor league life been?
It’s different. It’s a grind, but no complaints at all. You have to love what you do.

Be sure to check out Nick Kingham’s Baseball Cards

Interview With USA Baseball Alum and 2013 MLB Draft Prospect Christian Pelaez

By Andrew Martin
Twitter: @HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Most high school baseball players struggle to make varsity and get into college, where if they are lucky they might continue being able to play ball. Two months into his senior year, left-handed pitcher Christian Pelaez not only has all of that under control, he’s developed renown so great that he has already been featured on an assortment of baseball cards. Needless to say, he is not your average high school baseball player.

Pelaez has become one of the top prep players in the country pitching for Florida Christian High School in Miami. Eliciting comparisons to Washington Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez, Pelaez committed to LSU for next year, but depending on what happens during the 2013 MLB Draft those plans could change. He already is better known than most high school players thanks to the baseball cards he’s had in Topps, Bowman, and Panini sets; a distinction many seasoned professionals can’t claim. But it is his skill as a player that will make him a top draft choice or one of the best college players in the country.

Even with his busy schedule as a student athlete, Pelaez recently took the time to answer some questions I had for him about baseball and what he sees in his future. Whether you pick up some of his cards or check out one of his games, Pelaez is definitely a prospect worth keeping tabs on.

Who is your favorite player, and why? My favorite ball player is Gio Gonzalez, just because he came from my hometown of Miami and is a lefty pitcher that I have gotten a lot of comparisons to!

What are your plans for college or the draft?
Right now I am committed to play ball at LSU. I sign in November, but when the draft comes we will climb that hurdle when it gets here. Depending on the money and where I am as a player I will see if I sign.

How difficult is it to balance school and the work it takes to maintain your status as a top baseball prospect?
It isn’t very hard at all; I just have to stay disciplined through the school year and be responsible because it won’t get any easier at LSU.

What was it like to have mainstream baseball cards while still in high school? What kind of reaction did you get from classmates?
It is kind of surreal. I get fan mail and stuff from fans wanting me to sign them all the time. My friends find it pretty cool; they always mess with me about them!
Check out Christian’s Baseball Cards By Clicking Here

Which pitches do you throw; and which is your best; and which do you believe needs the most work?
I throw four pitches; I have a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider. No doubt my best pitch is my curveball. I feel like I can throw it at any time. My changeup needs the most work; I just need to be a little more consistent with it.

Can you talk a little bit about what the recruitment and scouting process has been like?
The process has been a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. It has been amazing and I’m blessed to be in this position. It is always fun for any player. I just want to have a solid senior year and see where it takes me.

Have you had the opportunity to get any instruction from current or former major league players?
I’ve gotten some instruction from Livan Hernandez. He trains in the off-season in Miami, and him and my dad are good friends, so I have tossed with him a couple times!

In a perfect world, Christian Pelaez will get drafted by…
In a perfect world Christian Pelaez will get drafted by the Boston Red Sox!

Interview With San Francisco Giants Prospect Chris Heston

By Andrew Martin
Twitter: @HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

The San Francisco Giants advanced into this year’s NLCS in large part because of their strong starting rotation. The staff’s longterm outlook is good, as another young gun in the form of right-handed Chris Heston is poised to make his presence felt at AT&T Park in the near future.

Heston attended Bayside High School in Palm Bay, Florida before enrolling at Seminole Community College. He eventually transferred to Eastern Carolina University, where he finished his college career. He pitched consistently for both schools and was drafted by the Twins in 2007 (47th round) and Nationals in 2008 (29th round), but declined to sign. His patience was rewarded when the Giants made him their 12th round pick in 2009.

Heston spent the entire 2012 season in Double-A, and lived up to his reputation as a polished pitcher with three solid pitches. He has improved each year in the Giants system, highlighted by a 12-4 record and 3.16 ERA in 2011 and a 9-8 mark and 2.24 ERA in 2012.

Having shown consistent growth and ability, Heston is poised to pitch in San Francisco at some point next season. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with and find out a little more about the talented pitching prospect.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?
Growing up I was always a big Chipper Jones fan, and still am. He was just the man at the time when I was growing up playing ball, and he was always a lot of fun to watch play. I wanted to do everything like him.

Before being selecting by the Giants you had previously been drafted by the Nationals and Twins; what made you decide to not sign with them?
At the time I was drafted by the other teams I just didn’t feel like I was ready to take the next step to pro ball. I thought there was still some things I needed to learn and it ended up being a good decision because I got to go to ECU and that was a great learning experience.

Can you describe what your 2009 draft day experience with the Giants was like?
It was exciting and a little nerve racking waiting around for your name to get called, but I had done it a couple other times and kind of knew what to expect. I just tried to enjoy it and I couldn’t have ended up in a better place.

What are the main challenges faced by minor league baseball players?
It’s a grind; it really is. The travel is tough, and eating right is tough, so you just have to try and enjoy it with your teammates

Which pitches do you throw, and which is your best and which do you believe needs the most work?
I throw a sinker, curveball, slider and changeup. I think everyone kind of says it, but the fastball/sinker would have to be the go-to pitch. I think everything can use work; there is always room to get better, so that’s what you have to work at.

Have you had any opportunity to get any advice from Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, or Madison Bumgarner?
In the past some of those guys have came in and talked to us as a group, and I think it’s great. All those guys know what they’re doing, and do it at a high level. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to get more advice from them in the future.

Your production has gotten better every time you have been promoted; what do you attribute this to?
I think it’s just learning as much as possible and trying to apply it to your game. I have had the opportunity to work with some great pitching coaches, so I just try to take as much from them as possible and keep working to get better.

Be sure to Check Out These Chris Heston Baseball Cards

Interview With Chicago Cubs Prospect Dustin Geiger

By Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

The Chicago Cubs are known for their World Series futility and having fallen on particularly hard times of late. But better days are ahead, as boy-wonder Theo Epstein was brought in as President and the team has a number of intriguing prospects making their way through the minors. Although not a high draft pick, one of those prospects, Dustin Geiger, is starting to make a name for himself.

Geiger, a third baseman, was taken in the 24th round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Cubs out of Merritt Island High School in Florida. He had contemplated attending college, but decided the opportunity to play professional ball was too good to pass up. The right-handed hitter was solid but unspectacular during his first two seasons. Despite battling injuries, he broke out in a major way in 2012, hitting 17 home runs and driving in 53 runs in just 75 games with A-level Peoria. More information on his statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=geiger001dus.

The Cubs still have a big hole at the hot corner, so the 20 year old Geiger may have a great opportunity in front of him if he continues developing at a rapid pace. I recently caught up with Geiger, who just wrapped up his season, and found out a little more about the Cubs prospect.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?
Derek Jeter. My first major league game was a Marlins/Yankees game in spring training, and I was a big Yankees fan growing up. I loved, and still love, the way he plays the game and is active with his foundation, giving back to others.

How did you know that the Cubs were interested in you?
I had talked with my area scout Lukas McKnight and attended a pre-draft workout in Clearwater, Florida.

Can you describe what your draft day experience was like?
A dream come true. All of my hard work over the years paid off and helped me reach a big goal.

How difficult was the decision to sign with Chicago rather than attending the University of Central Florida?
It was a tough decision for sure. But in the end I chose to sign because of the opportunity that was in front of me, and I didn’t have a crystal ball telling me I would be blessed with another opportunity like it.

Besides the travel, what was the most difficult thing to become accustomed to during your first professional season?
Being away from family and friends. My first season, I was 18 and living 2,000 miles away with a 3 hour time difference.

You had a broken hamate bone earlier this year. Can you describe how that injury and subsequent rehab impacts a ballplayer?
The hamate bone is more a hassle than anything. You don’t need the bone, so they just went in there and took it out. Any player who has been on rehab will tell you they can’t stand it. Watching your teammates head out to the field everyday makes you want to get out there even more and you learn your true love for the game.

Not being a higher draft pick, what drives you to compete with and against other prospects who may be more well known?
My goal to make it to the big leagues. Worrying that someone got drafted higher or signed for more money is negative energy. You can only control so many things and that’s not one of them. I have to give 110% day in and day out to show others, as well as prove to myself that I’m good enough to play in the big leagues and help the Chicago Cubs win a World Series.

Have you noticed anything different organizationally since Theo Epstein was hired?
There’s a lot of positive energy. Everyone is buying into the program to be the last team standing at the end of the season. I’m excited for the future!

Be sure to Check Out Dustin Geiger’s Baseball Cards and follow him on Twitter @D_Geiger

Interview With Boston Red Sox Prospect Mookie Betts

By Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

The Boston Red Sox haven’t had much go right with their team this year leaving fans seeking positivity anywhere they can find it. Young prospects are one source of optimism, as the franchise has a number of players who are candidates to eventually contribute to leading the team back to winning ways. In 2012 one young player who emerged as someone to keep an eye on was infielder Mookie Betts, who if he continues to develop will play his way into Fenway within the next few years.

The diminutive Betts (5’9, 174 lbs) was a three-sport high school star in Nashville, Tennessee. He bowled and played baseball and basketball, but after hitting .509 as a senior his future was clearly in baseball. He had a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, but the Red Sox drafted him in the 5th round of the 2011 MLB Draft and he started his professional career instead.

Just 19 this past season, the right-handed Betts impressed with the NY-Penn League Lowell Spinners, mainly playing second base and hitting .271 with 31 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 71 games. If he continues to develop and produce it will only be a matter of time before he is writing his own chapter in the record books of the Red Sox.

Having grown up playing three sports (baseball, football, and basketball), how did you end up choosing baseball?
I just feel like it was my best opportunity. I liked playing basketball a lot but I’m too small for that, and baseball has been my love my whole life. I feel like I now have the best opportunity to make it to the top of this sport.

Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?
Not really. I watched everybody and learned from everybody, and that’s how I learned how to play, really.

You had originally committed to the University of Tennessee. Were you going to play just baseball, or other sports as well?>
I think it was just going to be baseball. I wasn’t going to try and do anything else because baseball is really time consuming.

How close were you to actually going to Tennessee?
I didn’t sign until 30 minutes before the deadline. I was pretty sure I was going to go to school, and then the last offer came and me and my parents sat, and we had to really sit and talk about it. We came to the conclusion that this is what I want to do, so school had to be done with.

How did you know the Red Sox were interested in drafting you?
They came and watched me in high school. I went out and ate with my scout and the day of (the draft), they called me and I talked to them. They asked me, “would you be willing [to sign in] the fifth round”. Of course I was. I wasn’t expecting it. Me and my mom were just sitting there watching tv and we heard my name. After that, been busting; really.

After you signed with Boston, did you do anything special to celebrate for yourself or with your family?
Two days after (the draft) I was up in Boston. After that we haven’t done anything.

What is one thing you are hoping to work on and improve the most this season?
My strength and my mental game. Baseball has got a lot of mind games going on, and I feel if I get my mind stronger I will become stronger and develop more as a player.

Interview with Cleveland Indians 1st Round Pick Tyler Naquin

By Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Tyler Naquin grew up literally surrounded by baseball. When he was just getting interested in the game his father converted two acres of pasture at their Spring, Texas home into a baseball diamond. It proved to be a fortuitous decision, as Naquin has developed into one of the best young prospects in baseball.

Naquin is a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder out of Texas A&M University, who was taken this year by the Cleveland Indians with the 15th overall pick in the first round of this year’s MLB Draft. He is considered an on-base machine and a plus defender, with a cannon for an arm. He hit .348 during his career as an Aggie and was tabbed by Baseball America the best hitter and having the best outfield arm of any player in this year’s draft. While he is not considered a power hitter, many believe he can eventually develop into a 15-20 home run lead-off guy down the road.

Assigned to short season Mahonging Valley in the New York-Penn League, Naquin is already off to an impressive start to his professional career. I was recently able to catch up with this exciting prospect prior a game and got him to open up about his background and baseball.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
To be honest I just watched mainly the Astros. I really liked watching Craig Biggio and I also liked Ken Griffey, Jr. when he was with the Mariners. I had a jersey of Griffey, so probably him.

Is there a particular player you model your game after?
A lot of Ichiro, just from the throwing standpoint. A lot of Jacoby Ellsbury. Mainly those two guys.

How did you end up at Texas A&M?
I was recruited by Texas, Baylor, Arkansas, and schools like that. A&M was the closest one to my house and I hadn’t had any recruitment letters or anything from them, and my coach sent them an email and said, “Hey, Naquin hasn’t signed with anybody,” and they said “Alright, come on and visit,” and that’s how it ended up.

What was your draft experience like?
It was an emotional roller coaster to be honest. I was projected 20th to the 30th pick, and getting picked 15th, you just kind of… I didn’t really know what to say at that moment.

How far in advance of the pick did the Indians contact you to let you know you were being considered?
I had no clue.

How difficult is it to transition from metal to wooden bats?
It’s fine. It takes two or three weeks to really hone in and get back in the groove of things after not playing. With a wooden bat, you just find a model you like and start swinging.

What is one piece of advice you have received since starting your pro career that has helped the most?
Don’t be a numbers guy. I’ve never been a numbers guy and numbers will take care of themselves. Just go out there and stay healthy and let your ability take over. You’re here for a reason; to just play hard every day.

What was your experience like in Cleveland after they drafted you?
They flew me, my mom, and my dad up. My brother wasn’t able to go. They flew us three up and put us in a suite. We signed a contract and went to a game. I was on the radio, television, and types of great stuff. They took real good care of us. I did my physical up there in the big league complex and met a lot of guys like Johnny Damon, a bunch of guys like that, so it was awesome.

Be sure to check out Tyler Naquin’s Baseball Cards.

Interview With Tampa Bay Rays Pitching Prospect Jesse Hahn

By: Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

It’s always a shame to see injuries prevent talented young baseball players from achieving their major league dreams. Fortunately the most determined often find a way to persevere and fight their way through the adversity. The Tampa Bay Rays believe they have such a player in their system in pitcher Jesse Hahn, who is finally embarking on his professional career after a lengthy delay. The right-hander was on top of the world as a high school senior. Pitching for Fitch High School in Groton, Connecticut, he went 5-1 with a state record 0.17 ERA, managing to overshadow high-profile teammate Matt Harvey. While Harvey elected to attend UNC, Hahn committed to Virginia Tech. He struggled during his first two seasons with the Hokies, but rebounded to go 5-2, with a 2.81 ERA as a junior in 2010.

With an arsenal that includes a fastball that reaches the upper 90′s, Hahn was projected to be a possible 1st round pick. Unfortunately, just days before the draft, it was determined he needed Tommy John Surgery. Despite the injury, Tampa Bay loved his potential so much that they took him in the 6th round, determined to help facilitate his rehab. Fast forwarding to 2012, Hahn is finally back on the mound and trying to re-establish himself as a top pitching prospect. Prior to a recent game I was able to catch up with him and find out a little more about his journey through baseball.

Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?
Actually, I grew up a Pirates fan because my dad is from Pittsburgh and my mom is from right outside Pittsburgh in Ohio. So, surprisingly I was a Pirates fan. Roberto Clemente was probably my favorite player growing up.

Why Clemente?
Well, he was my dad’s favorite player and I read a lot about him. He just had a great story behind him.

What was your draft experience like?
For me it was real hectic because I had the torn ligament right before the draft; like a couple of days before the draft. I was expecting to go a lot higher, but it didn’t work out. I ended up getting surgery, so it was a long process. I’m glad to be out of it now.

It must have been really frustrating to have that happen right before the draft?
Yeah, it was. It was actually more frustrating these past two years just watching baseball and not being able to play. It was tough.

What did the Rays tell you after they drafted you?
They told me they were going to take me to get the surgery and wanted to sign me. They were really nice about it. Hypothetically, they told me I could take as much time as I needed because they just wanted me to be healthy and be able to pitch again.

What have the past couple of years been like in trying to get back to the mound?
It’s been rough. I’ve had bumps in the road. I had times where I actually though I had tore it again. I didn’t feel good, but I guess that is all just part of the process. It’s a lot to get over, to mentally prepare to pitch again. I dealt with a foot surgery too, so that just made things even worse. It’s all in the past now and I am prepared.

Be sure to check out Jesse Hahn Baseball Cards

Interview With 2011 Tampa Bay Rays 1st Round Pick Jeff Ames

By: Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

Baseball teams love pitchers with big arms. Anyone who can get their fastball into the upper 90′s or above, are going to get noticed. One team that seems to have inordinate success in annually drafting and cultivating hard throwing pitchers is the Tampa Bay Rays, and it looks like they may have done it once again. In the 2011 MLB draft they were able to nab Jeff Ames, who immediately became one of the hardest throwers in their system.

Ames, a lanky right-handed sophomore from Lower Columbia College in Washington, was drafted in the compensatory portion of the first round with the 42nd overall pick (as compensation for the Rays losing Rafael Soriano to the Yankees). He had been drafted twice before, but had declined to sign in order to continue developing his skills. His decision paid off, as last year he went 8-1 with a 2.05 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 88 innings. His ability to consistently throw in the mid to upper 90′s, including hitting as high as 100 mph last year, made his draft stock skyrocket. He is now making his way towards the majors, toiling in the lower levels of the minor leagues for the Rays, and hoping to become the next in a long line of Tampa Bay pitching prospect success stories. He recently took a few moments after a practice to chat with me and discuss his experiences in baseball.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
Definitely the Mariners, being that they were in the closest town to me. Probably my favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey, Jr. because he was so good and it was fun watching him play.

Is there a pitcher who you identify with, either growing up or now?
Back then I didn’t really know any difference, but now I would say Nolan Ryan. Me and my dad would spend some time watching him. He really attacked hitters and I try to attack hitters the same way.

What was your draft experience like?:
My draft experience was pretty awesome. I wasn’t really quite sure when I was going to go, but was more expecting to maybe go second round. It was awesome that I got picked up when I did. The Rays were obviously pretty interested in me, so it really worked out.

How much do you think the reports of you hitting 100 MPH help you leading up to the draft?
Yeah, that was towards the beginning of my college season. I definitely got more attention after that happened, but it only happened once and it wasn’t like I was hitting that every time I went out. But that maybe had a little bit to do with it.

Did your brother Steve’s own previous draft experience with the Dodgers help you in any way?
I wouldn’t say it helped me because me signing this past year was my third time getting drafted. I was kind of familiar with it. As far as going through all of this, it was nice having him to call and talk to when I’ve had any questions.

Were their particular reasons why you chose not to sign when you were drafted by Philadelphia and Colorado?
Honestly I wasn’t ready. I just knew that if I was going to do this, I needed to be ready to do this. I didn’t feel like my abilities were quite where they needed to be.

Which pitches do you throw and which one are you trying to improve the most?
I throw a fastball, a slider, and a changeup. The fastball and slider are the pitches I am probably most comfortable with. I am really trying to work hard on my changeup so I can throw it in any count in a game to a lefty or a righty.

Be sure to check out Jeff Ames’ Baseball Cards

Interview With St Louis Cardinals Outfield Prospect Chris Swauger

By: Andrew Martin
@historianandrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

One of the biggest assets a young professional baseball player can have is discipline. Without that it is a tough road to do the necessary work and make the proper adjustments to keep moving upwards. St. Louis Cardinals farmhand Chris Swauger should have discipline in spades, having attended college at The Citadel, a military school known for its rigid preparedness of students. The left-handed hitting outfielder is using that experience as he makes his way through the St. Louis system and hopes that it will eventually pay off with a promotion to the major leagues.
Swauger left The Citadel in 2008 as one of their greatest players ever, ranking near the top of their all time lists in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs. The Cardinals rewarded his consistent production by taking him in the 26th round of that year’s MLB draft. Since then he has progressed through the minors, having made it as far as Triple-A. He doesn’t have a lot of power (possessing a single season high of 12 home runs) and he doesn’t run much, but he hits for a good average and plays good defense. He made his Triple-A debut this season, but struggled a bit and is now playing with Springfield in Double-A, but will likely be sent up again if he continues to play well.

This past off-season I was able to ask Swauger a few questions about his baseball career. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter @cswag8

Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?
I was an Atlanta Braves fan growing up. Their games were always on TBS, and we didn’t get a team in Tampa until I was 12 years old so I grew up watching the Braves. I was a big Chipper Jones fan and I loved Fred McGriff. When he came to play for Tampa Bay later in his career, that was a lot of fun to watch.

Which coach or manager has been most influential on you so far?
I have had many good coaches and I can honestly say I’ve taken positive lessons away from all of them. I would have to say that Jeff Albert has been the most influential of all. I have spent four seasons (short-season in Batavia, parts of two seasons in Palm Beach, and a winter ball season in Barranquilla, Colombia) working with him. His knowledge of the game and bio-mechanics is top notch in my opinion. His knowledge of me and my swing is unmatched and he has brought out the best in me as a player.

Can you run through what your draft experience was like?
After my senior season at The Citadel, I was pretty sure I would get a chance to play but I was not sure where I would land in the draft. I watched the rounds that were on TV and then kept the radio broadcast going on the computer. Hearing 784 names called before mine made me wonder if I might not get that chance I was hoping for. Once I heard my name I forgot about all of that and assumed the role of a little kid whose dream had just come true. I was excited and happy to get a chance to continue playing the game I had loved since I could walk.

How did attending The Citadel prepare you for a career in baseball and life?
I think attending a school like that forces a person to grow up in a hurry. I learned valuable lessons about discipline, hard work, time management, and mental toughness. Being in an environment like that shows true character. The adversity that the school provides creates men who are prepared to face any challenge, be it in baseball or life in general.

Do you have a favorite moment from your playing career?
Without question my favorite moment was winning the New York-Penn League Championship in 2008. Running in from left field to jump on the dog pile was one of the happiest moments of my life. There is no other feeling than realizing a goal that you work so hard for. Being a champion makes everything worth it.

How closely do you follow Cardinal organizational transactions and think about how those impact you?
I do pay attention to what happens with the Cardinals. I think anyone who cares about their career in any field pays attention to what goes on within their organization. That being said, I realize that my career and my production is dictated by me and my work ethic. I will work and push myself to the limit regardless of what happens in my organization.

What do you like to do in your spare time, that is not baseball related?
I love to read, listen to music, and watch movies. I like to fish and golf, too. Basically anything involving athletics would be something I’m interested in.

What do you think you need to work on most in 2012 to help you reach the major leagues?
I think I need to improve every aspect of my game. I know that the key for me getting to the big leagues is to get better. I think the only reason I am still getting the chance to play is because I have committed to getting a little bit better every day. I know if I continue to do the little things and put the work in, I will be successful.

Be sure to check out Chris Swauger’s baseball cards

Interview With Boston Red Sox 1st Round Pick Pat Light

By Andrew Martin
@HistorianAndrew
BaseballHistorian.Blogspot.com

The struggles of the 2012 Boston Red Sox have been accentuated by the decline of their starting pitching. Having had some fairly significant recent misses in free agency with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey, new GM Ben Cherington hopes to rebuild the team’s pitching depth through sound drafting and developing. He took two pitchers in the first round of this year’s draft, and Pat Light, the 37th overall selection, is someone the organization is very excited about.

Light is a big righty with a mid-90′s fastball and developing and projectable secondary stuff. After going 20-0 during his high school career he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 28th round in 2009, but elected to attend Monmouth University (NJ) instead. He dominated in college, culminating with his inclusion on this year’s Golden Spikes Award watch list, all while going 8-3, with a 2.40 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 101.1 innings. His impressive production and steady improvement all appealed to the Red Sox, who believe he can be a quality major league starter.

Light recently signed his first contract and was assigned to the short season Lowell Spinners. I was able to catch him coming off the field after conditioning drills earlier this week and got to find out a little more about this exciting young pitcher.

How did you first become interested in baseball?
My dad was a big baseball player. He got me into it when I was real young. So, it has been basically from birth that I have been playing baseball.

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
Frank Thomas, playing for the White Sox; that was my favorite player growing up. He retired and ever since then I have just been a fan of baseball.

Is there a pitcher you model yourself after?
I guess I would say back in the day it would be Roy Halladay. He has that two-seam sink that I used to have that I am trying to get back. Right now don’t know if there is really a pitcher that I can model myself after. I’m kind of a hard throwing guy with some good secondary stuff. I don’t know if I am as developed as some of those big guys yet.

Can you run through a little bit of what your draft experience was like?
It was exciting. It was a year long process. Once the draft ended last year, it started up for me. It was exciting though and a good year. The fall was exciting with all the teams coming to watch me pitch and my teammates. You don’t get that exposure a lot coming from a small school like Monmouth. The spring obviously was awesome, as there were scouts at every game. Finally draft day was June 4th. I was sitting around my tv right around 6-ish with my family and ended up getting drafted around 11:30 by the Red Sox, a storied franchise. It couldn’t have been better.

Have you been to Boston yet or interacted with anyone from the team?
I went to Boston two days after the draft. I was up in Boston doing some physical work and getting some tests done on me, and stuff like that. I was able to sit in the locker room for about two hours, so I got to meet most of the guys and see how they did most of their daily stuff.

What is one thing you are hoping to work on or improve the most this season?
I would say my secondary pitches. I do want to get that two-seam back running, but right now my main focus is getting that secondary stuff refined to catch up with my fastball.