Get To Know: LHP Prospect From Moldova Petru Balan
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Petru Balan)Like his older brother, Petru grew up playing soccer. It is the sport most kids around Europe play. Petru started playing baseball in his third year of school. He didn’t know the sport. It wasn’t at all developed in the country.
“Coaches made for us a presentation of this sport. It seemed very unusual and interesting.”
Along with four years of soccer, he also played football as a youth. However, at some point, he was pushed to make a decision.
“In the end, I had to chose between two sports, soccer and baseball. I’ve been playing baseball now for 12 years.”
He continued to throw the javelin. His coach was Alexander Moiseenko. “I was a javelin thrower for four years, until I was 17 years old. I had the one coach in both the javelin and baseball. He is still my coach. One of the best coaches ever. He taught me everything since I was a kid.”
Like his brother, Petru spent his formative years learning the game and representing his country in various international competitions.
“We represented the Moldova National Team in the European Championships in Poland in 2007, 2008 and 2009.”
His brother did a lot of the research, but Petru traveled and participated in the MLB tryouts too. “When I was 16 years old, we went to the MLB tryout in the Czech Republic. It was my first competition in front of a lot of pro scouts. I hit 89 mph. After the tryout, five pro teams took my personal information. They were interested in me.”
After the tryout, he returned home to Moldova, unsigned. “Two or three weeks later, scouts came to Moldova to see our games.”
They received their invitation to the MLB academy in 2012 in Italy. “51 of the best European players were invited. That is three weeks of camp. We were coached by MLB coaches and players. And, we were playing against each other. There were a lot of scouts coming to watch, looking to sign contracts.”
Over the next few years, Petru was invited to the MLB academies three times. He went to Germany in 2014 and The Netherlands in 2015.
“Twins scout Glenn Godwin was looking at us. I started pitching in the Czech Extra League for the season. Glenn came to Ostrava and offered our contracts. Vadim signed, but I didn’t.”
He had an offer to sign a professional contract. It would have allowed him to sign with the same team as his brother. So, why didn’t he sign?
“I decided that I needed more game practice before I signed.”
That brings us to 2016. He was invited to be part of the European All-Star team. The team would travel a lot and play all over. “In March, we went to the MLB tour to St. Petersburg, Florida. I did very good there. The Twins were still interested in me.”
When that camp was complete, he flew to the Czech Republic for another season. In October, he was selected for the World Select team. It consisted of 29 players from four continents and included a one-month trip to the States. They spent two weeks in Tennessee and two weeks at the Arizona Fall League.
“There I also did well. After that, the Twins offered to sign me again.”
This time, he agreed to the terms and became a professional baseball player, a member of the Minnesota Twins organization. Like Vadim, Petru is now living his dream.
“It was so important to be together with my brother. We support each other, and we can help each other any time as we move forward.”
He joined his brother at spring training this year. And he has learned a lot about himself already, and he’s made several adjustments.
“There have been many changes, both on the field and off the field. Full-scale training process, work regimen, sleep, nutrition. This is what we need to observe daily to be better every day.”
Petru Balan throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup, and sometimes a two-seam fastball.
“What makes me successful? Well, every time when I’m on the baseball field, it makes me happy. Most of that when I am on the mound. Every day, I try to get better. That is my mindset.”
Balan uses the following motto to drive him. “You are what you think about and how you manage your thoughts”
Petru has some solid goals and high expectations for himself. “My goal for 2017 is to get better every day, and as soon as possible, to play in the Major Leagues.”
When asked his favorite team? “My favorite team is the Minnesota Twins!”
Good answer. As for which pitchers he enjoys watching, he clearly knows who the right guys to watch. “I have favorite pitchers, like Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner and Aroldis Chapman. I’m trying to find for myself something from them.”
This 21-year-old southpaw has a live arm, but he’s still raw. It will be interesting to see how he develops over the next couple of years. But like his brother, his arm makes is worth taking a shot and seeing what happens.
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