Today, we are bringing you another 12 Questions interview. Austin Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick in 2011 after he was named the Minnesota High School Player of the Year. He played for Centennial High School in Circle Pines, MN, and had committed to play for the University of Arizona. On the final day he could, he reached an agreement and signed with the Twins.
Too late to play in 2011, his debut came in 2012 with the Gulf Coast League Twins. They lefty pitched well. He went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA. In 31.2 innings, he gave up 35 hits, walked 11 and struckout 32 batters. He made six starts and came out of the bullpen five times, but he is definitely viewed as a starting pitcher. He just turned 19 one month ago and is certainly one to watch as he develops and moves up the farm system.
Recently, Malinowski took the time to answer some questions for Twins Daily. Enjoy, and please feel free to ask questions in the comments below.
12 QUESTIONS WITH… Austin Malinowski
Twins Daily (TD): Growing up in Minnesota, should we pretty easily assume who your favorite team was? Who were some of your favorite players?
Austin Malinowski (AM): Of course my favorite team was the Twins. But some of my favorite Twins were Johan and Torii Hunter.
TD: Tell us about your high school career (baseball and/or other extra-curriculars).
AM: In high school, I played 3 sports (football, basketball and baseball). Other than that I didn't have much time for anything else because I also played legion ball for 3 summers.
TD: The Twins drafted you in the 16th round in 2011. You had committed to Arizona, but signed with the Twins. How difficult was that decision to sign with the hometown team rather than play at a southern college program? How many times did you change your mind?
AM: I still think about my decision to sign sometimes. They have a great program, and I always wanted to go to a big time school. When they won the national championship last year, I knew I could have played a big role on that team, but I'm in the position they want to be in already. Signing was the right choice.
TD: What were you hearing before the draft? Were you expecting to go around where you did, and did you have much communication with Twins scouts before that?
AM: Honestly, I was hearing I would actually go in the top ten rounds. So when I dropped to the 16th, it was a little surprising. But I did a Twins showcase and they attended quite a few of my games before the draft so I knew they were looking at me.
TD: After signing, your first real experience came on the Instructional League in Ft. Myers. What did you learn right away that fall?
AM: I learned that pro ball was much more difficult than anything I had done before. I struggled for the first time in a long time so I learned how to pitch rather then throw like I did before.
TD: You pitched in the GCL in 2012. How would you describe your adjustment to pro baseball and what did you learn from that first season?
AM: The pro season is so long. I think that is the biggest difference and challenge for me. Staying healthy and consistent over a long season is tough. I had to grow up quickly mentally because if I didn't pro ball wouldn't be too kind. I just had to mature on the field.
TD: I assume you’ll be at Twins Fest signing autographs again this year. Had you been to Twins Fest previously, and what was your impression of that event as a member of the Twins organization?
AM: Yes, I will be at Twins Fest. I was invited there last year, and I thought it was really cool. So many Twins fans are supporters of the young minor leaguers as well as the big league stars. Great fans.
TD: I believe you came back to Minnesota for the offseason. As you begin to workout and throw in preparation for the 2013 season, what is your routine?
AM: Well starting after the New Year, I’ll be throwing every day at Augsburg. I’ll wake up early, drive down there, and get my throwing and some conditioning done. Drive back home and work out at the YMCA near me. Go home, eat lunch, and relax.
TD: Looking to 2013, what are some of your goals? Are there certain statistics or numbers that you look at the judge yourself?
AM: Some of my goals are to improve my mental toughness every day. This will help everything else. But I would like to at least play for E-Town. I would love to finish the year in Cedar Rapids. Two biggest stats for me are WHIP and ERA so it's important I keep those two low. That will help the team I'm on and obviously help me make a name for myself.
TD: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career as a baseball player?
AM: First of all, my dad was the one who helped me get started playing and my high school coach Lynn Buehner and my legion coach Rollie Goertzen was a huge influence on me. But during my pro career, Eric Rasmussen and Henry Bonilla have helped me improve a lot.
TD: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? If you were a scout, what would the report be?
AM: I'm a pitcher who doesn't want to get beat throwing off-speed stuff. I have a good 2-seam fastball that moves a lot. My slider and changeup are good out pitches but can be inconsistent. 3/4 arm slot. I just like to challenge guys and try to get quick outs.
Thank you to Austin! We definitely appreciate the time he spent to respond. As I said above, he is certainly a prospect worth watching the next couple of years as he develops.