July 20, 2007

Interview: Kyle Waldrop

Kyle Waldrop was drafted by the Twins three years ago with the team's first round pick in the 2004 amateur draft. He signed quickly with the team, and got his professional career started right away. Waldrop put up great numbers early on this season at Fort Myers, and earned a promotion to New Britain very early in the season. In addition to success so far in professional baseball, Kyle also had great success in high school where his team was once ranked as high as second in the nation.

We were lucky enough to have Kyle answer some questions, and he talked everything baseball from his great high school days to where he stands now. He took a lot of time with it, and it should be a fun read. Before you check it out though, make sure you check his stats out here.

Here's the interview....

Twins Territory: Growing up, what was your favorite baseball team, and who were some of your favorite players?

Kyle Waldrop: I'd have to say my favorite team was the Braves. They were the closest team to Knoxville where I grew up so we got them on TV about every night and I just began to like them. It was always fun for me to watch their pitchers at the time (Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine) and I'd have to say they were some of my favorite players.

Twins Territory: What baseball player would you say you’re most like and why?

Kyle Waldrop: That’s a tough question, but the way my game is now is similar to Derek Lowe because my sinker is my best and most consistent pitch. I'm not a hard-thrower at this point in my career and rely on my sinker to create a lot of soft contact and get a bunch of ground balls.

Twins Territory: What is your favorite part about professional baseball?

Kyle Waldrop: It's great to be able to wake up and know that you're going to the ballpark everyday. It was a dream of mine growing up along with almost every other baseball player. I've actually been lucky enough to be given this opportunity and couldn't be happier about it.

Twins Territory: What’s your best baseball memory, in professional or any other level?

Kyle Waldrop: My best memory in baseball up to this point was winning the Tennessee State Championship my Junior and Senior year in High School. We ended up those two years 94-3 and 2nd in the nation my Junior year and 3rd in the nation my Senior year. I had grown up playing with most all of those guys and they're some of my best friends and it was two years that I'll never forget.

Twins Territory: You started the season at Fort Myers and pitched very well, what was it like to be called up?

Kyle Waldrop: I was extremely happy when I got called up. That was something that I was working hard for from the first day of the season and to get the call as early as May was awesome. I was scheduled to pitch against Roger Clemens in Tampa and got the call 2 days before that start, so I was a little disappointed I wouldn't get that opportunity, but I would have much rather gotten the promotion.

Twins Territory: You were drafted out of High School, did you think about going to college or did you want to get started in profession baseball right away?

Kyle Waldrop: Signing out of High School was an extremely difficult decision for me. I had signed with Vanderbilt and had a feeling that the program was building into the powerhouse that it is today. To be honest, I'm still surprised to this day that I was selected in the position that I was, but an opportunity to play for an organization like the Twins and to be drafted in the first round was like a dream come true.

Twins Territory: What do you feel is the best part about your game?

Kyle Waldrop: The best part of my game up to this point in my career has been my ability to command the zone and throw my sinkers consistently. I'm not overpowering but like to create a lot of soft contact with movement.

Twins Territory: If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you have liked to do for your career?

Kyle Waldrop: I always thought growing up that it would be fun to be an orthopedic doctor. I've had a history of injuries as a kid and had to go to the doctor fairly often, and thought it would be neat to help out athletes recover from injuries.

Twins Territory: Some players have a number for a certain reason, is there a story behind yours, and what number do you want when you get to the big leagues?

Kyle Waldrop: Up until I was 14 or so I had always worn the number 4. No real reason, just got it my first year and kept it every year since then. Then in high school, I changed and went to number 25. There was one player we had when I was a freshman that was a great player and went on to play at Tennessee that wore 25, and I wanted to take his number and try my best to fill his shoes at my school. Since then, 25 has been my number (except in the minor leagues when sometimes you can't get what number you always want).

Twins Territory: What’s some advise that you’d give young players who some day want to make it into professional baseball?

Kyle Waldrop: Make sure you're ready for the grind of professional baseball. Some people do just fine coming out of high school with the lifestyle and the mental aspect of doing it for a living and it being an everyday job, but some coming out of high school aren't physically or mentally prepared for pro ball. If you're not certain whether you can handle it or not, go to college first.

Twins Territory: What is your main goal for the rest of this season, and for next season going into Spring Training?

Kyle Waldrop: My main focus for the rest of this year is to get into a consistent groove and throw together a bunch of quality starts. I've hit some bumps up here in AA, but have been working extremely hard to overcome them and feel like I'm ready to get the consistency I'm looking for. I'm not putting much focus on my off season yet, but once the last game has been played, I'll have a plan for my off season and can answer better then.

Twins Territory: Thanks for taking time to do this interview Kyle, best of luck to you for the rest of the season and beyond.

As I mentioned at the end of the interview, I'd like to thank Kyle for taking his time with this interview. As you can see by reading it, he went very in-depth with each question, and I feel like that made it even more fun to read.

I've posted this tonight because I won't have time later.