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Good morning everyone! Before getting to our Q&A, I thought I should update everyone on the NFL “Expert” Picks now that the regular season is over… But first, I have to make note a pretty impressive prediction by one of our panelists. Kevin Slowey not only picks the Pittsburgh Steelers to win every week, but tells us by how much. He has been as close as two points off. But this week, he predicted “Steelers by 31” so when the Steelers beat the Browns 31-0, it had to be noted.
Congratulations to John Bonnes, aka The Twins Geek, who went 13-3 in Week 17 to win this year’s contest! He correctly picked 67.7% (172-254) of the games in 2008. Vic Quick, who had been in the lead coming into the week, tied for third with Cory Hepola, behind Bonnes and Twins minor league pitcher Kyle Waldrop, who for the third straight year was the top player in the standings. Jonathan Mayo finished out the Top 5. Thank you to all 28 panelists who participated most every week. It was fun to see who people picked. I will continue to ask this group and others for their picks on playoff games and such, but it will not be added to the contest. To see the panel and the final standings, please click here.
It has been quite some time, too long, since I last posted a Q&A with a Twins minor leaguer, but I have a couple of them ready to go. Today, I am happy to post a Q&A with pitcher Steve Blevins. Blevins was the Twins 21st round pick in 2008 out of Marshall. He is quite new to the organization, so here is a Q&A to help Twins fans get to know him. Enjoy!
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Louisa, Kentucky, who was your favorite team? Who were some of your favorite players to follow?
Steve Blevins: I was always a big Cincinnati Reds fan growing up. They were the closest team from my house, so I usually caught 5 or 6 games a year. I always liked watching Roger Clemens and Cal Ripken Jr.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little about your high school career. Did you play other positions besides pitching?
Steve Blevins: My high school career was pretty cool because in Kentucky you can play varsity sports as an 8th grader, which meant I got the chance to play with one of my brothers when he was a senior and I was in the 8th grade. I played the infield when I wasn’t pitching, usually shortstop or second base.
SethSpeaks: Did you participate in other activities in high school?
Steve Blevins: I stayed pretty busy with baseball year round, but I also loved playing basketball and played it in high school as well.
SethSpeaks: Were you heavily recruited out of high school? You chose Cincinnati, a school just a couple of hours from home. What was the process of deciding which school to go to like?
Steve Blevins: Yeah I received around 10 or so offers from different colleges, which for me was plenty enough to choose from. I actually committed to NC State first, but the assistant coach who saw me pitch left before the signing period and it left the other coaches in a tough spot because they had not seen me pitch. Needless to say that fell through and I ended up at UC. When I visited UC I was very impressed with the facilities and what I thought the school had to offer and I committed that day. I was also pleased because I knew that my parents and family would still have the opportunity to come see me play as much as they wanted because it was pretty close to home. I thought they deserved that chance because of all they had done in helping me get to that point in my baseball career.
SethSpeaks: You spent two years and the U of Cincinnati where you teamed with Dan Osterbrook. What can you say about the Appy League’s Pitcher of the Year?
Steve Blevins: Big O is a cool dude. We got to know each other pretty well at UC and we were both excited on draft day when we were both picked by the Twins. While at UC and also this fall at instructs we did quite a bit of fishing together, which was nice because it gives you a little taste of home. As a pitcher I can say I haven’t played with anyone yet that is any better. He has 3 pitches that he can throw at anytime for a strike. His change-up is especially good.
SethSpeaks: You transferred to Marshall University for your junior season. How difficult was that decision? How did you enjoy that season?
Steve Blevins: The decision to transfer was really a pretty easy one for me. Although I had a lot of friends at UC, I knew transferring to Marshall was the best thing for my future in baseball. The pitching coach at Marshall (Tim Adkins-13 year’s minor league baseball- Blue Jays, Reds, and Yankees) was the main reason I chose to transfer to where I did. I had worked with him in the past when I was younger and knew that it would be best for me to go back and learn from him some more.
S ethSpeaks: What was your college major, and do you intend to continue your education?
Steve Blevins: My major is Business Management and I hope to finish my degree in the next couple of years. I only have 2 more semesters to go, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get done. I’ll definitely finish it up though.
SethSpeaks: The Twins drafted you in the 21st round in June. Had you been talking to the Twins and their scouts, or were other teams talking to you a lot?
Steve Blevins: Yeah I had talked to a lot teams and had workouts with a few as well. I talked to the Twins, Red Sox and Reds the most so I had a feeling I might be picked by one of them. The week before the draft I had lunch with my Twins scout (Jeremy Booth), and after talking with him I was very excited about possibly being chosen by the Twins.
SethSpeaks: What was the draft like for you, knowing you would be drafted sometime? Where were you expecting to be selected?
Steve Blevins: I was more excited than anything on draft day; I think my parents and brothers were the nervous ones haha. I know going into the draft that you never know what is going to happen and I think that helped me on draft day. I had been told my most teams that I talked to that they thought I would go somewhere between rounds 8-15. Obviously I was disappointed that I went lower but I couldn’t complain because I knew I was still getting the chance to live my dream.
SethSpeaks: You reported to Ft. Myers and pitched just eight games for the GCL Twins before moving up to Elizabethton for the remainder of the season. But after being used primarily as a starter in college, you pitched out of the bullpen in 2008. Compare starting versus relieving, and the adjustments that you had to make to be successful.
Steve Blevins: It took me some time to get used to throwing on back to back nights. In college I was used to starting and throwing once a week, so it was a big change. It also took me some time to get used to sitting around for 6 or 7 innings and then throwing the 8th or 9th, but it’s a role that I like very much.
SethSpeaks: What were the adjustments off the field to becoming a professional baseball player and that lifestyle (bus rides, pay checks, etc.)?
Steve Blevins: You have to take care of yourself and your body. We played a short season but it’s easy to see that Minor League Baseball is a grind and something you have to be prepared for. Playing in the GCL and then Appy League, we didn’t really have any bad bus rides. Our longest was probably 3 hours or so, so that part was good.
SethSpeaks: Pitching out of the bullpen, you averaged more than a strikeout per inning. What pitches do you throw? Which pitches are you working on, and which pitch do you consider your “out-pitch?”
Steve Blevins: I throw a fastball, change-up, and slider. I’m working on getting all three of those pitches as good as I can before learning and new pitches. I would say my slider is probably my out pitch most of the time, but at times my fastball can be too. It all depends on the hitter and the situation.
SethSpeaks: What were your goals coming into pro ball for the 2008 season, and how did you feel about your pro debut?
Steve Blevins: My main goals were to stay healthy, throw the ball well, and learn how things are supposed to be done. I was told by scouts and different baseball people to really soak up as much as I could from coaches and other players and know what to expect in Spring Training. I feel ok about my first year. I feel that I can improve on my numbers, but overall I felt fine about my first experience in pro ball, and that makes me even more excited for the 2009 season.
SethSpeaks: The E-Twins had another remarkable season, and you were a big part in the bullpen. After the Mark Hamburger trade, you became the playoff closer for the team. Talk a little about the talent on the team’s pitching staff and what it was like to be a part of it?
Steve Blevins: It was easily the most talented pitching staff I have ever been a part of. I think we had a good mix of guys that went well together. It seemed like every night someone different would step up and throw the ball well. Being in the bullpen was a new experience for me, but it grew on me quick. I like having the opportunity to throw several times a week and I also like getting the chance to throw late in games and all that comes with it.
SethSpeaks: Talk a little bit about that E-Town offensive attack. Are there a couple of players that stand out to you as potential future stars?
Steve Blevins: Man those guys can hit…..I was impressed with a lot of our hitters and a lot of them could be potential future stars, but one that stands out to me in Angel Morales. I mean for someone to put up the numbers he did at his age is pretty remarkable.
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?
Steve Blevins: After instructs I returned home and took a few weeks off to let me my body rest up. Since then I have been working out and getting ready to start our throwing program which gets going in January. I have been giving pitching lessons and substitute teaching to keep me busy and make some money in the offseason.
SethSpeaks: Have you heard much about the Twins organization, and their philosophies on building from within, and their success in developing pitchers? What are your thoughts on the organization now that you have spent a little bit of time in it?
Steve Blevins: I’m definitely impressed with the Twins organization and especially the way they develop pitchers. I feel lucky to be part of an organization that believes in developing and using their farm system. Shortly after I was drafted, everyone I talked to told me how the Twins were a great organization and I can see why after spending my first season with them.
SethSpeaks: Have you set any goals for yourself for 2009? Are there certain statistics that you look at?
Steve Blevins: One goal I always have is to stay healthy. Other than that I haven’t set any goals just yet. That is something I’ll do in January/February as the season nears, but I do have a few in mind. I’m not really a big statistics guy, I know they mean a lot, but I don’t necessarily look that them too much. If you are throwing the ball well and doing what you’re supposed to be doing they will take care of themselves.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Book?
Steve Blevins: Pete Rose- My Prison Without Bars. I read this book in high school and its still one of my favorites.
SethSpeaks: Favorite Baseball Movie?
Steve Blevins: 61…..It’s a classic
A big thank you goes to Steve Blevins 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 day!