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12 Questions With... Luke Bard

Good morning! Thanks as always for making Twins Daily part of your every day reading. Today I am going to return to the 12 Questions format with a fun interview with one of the Twins first-round picks in 2012, RHP Luke Bard. As you know, the Twins selected him out of Georgia Tech with the 42nd overall pick. He wasn’t able to pitch much last year due to a couple of injuries, but he has a ton of talent, and as you’ll read below, a pretty strong baseball pedigree in his family. [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] He was kind enough to put some quality time into answering our 12 Questions recently.

To tell a little bit more about Bard before getting into the interview, I want to post for you what was written about him in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2013 by fellow-author and Twins Daily contributor, the Nodak Twins Fan Cody Christie.

This is just one out of 85 Twins minor league pitcher profiles available in the 191 page book dedicated solely to the Twins minor league system. Yesterday, we made the paperback book available online for $13.99. I did that because four of the five players on the cover will be at Twins Fest and lots of people tell me they want to get books signed there. To do so, they should really be ordered within the next 24-48 hours. Today, you can now also order an electronic book (e-book) for just $8.99. (I do get a lot of questions about Prospect Handbooks from previous years. If you’re interested in those, click here.) I’ll be quiet about the book and give you the profile, and then… 12 Questions With… RHP Luke Bard.

Luke Bard – RHP (11/13/90)

Acquired: Supp 1st round pick in 2012 from Georgia Tech
2012 Team(s): GCL Twins, Elizabethton Twins
2012 Stats: 0-0, 1 Save, 3.86 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 7.0 IP, 7 BB, 7 K

One of the trends for the Twins in the 2012 Draft was that the club decided to load up on powerful college relief arms. Bard was the first of these type of players selected by the Twins after finishing his junior year at Georgia Tech. He is the younger brother of Boston Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard, and the Twins will try to make him into a starter in the minor leagues. During his collegiate career, he was used mostly as a relief arm, but he does have a very good three-pitch mix. His slider is one of his best pitches, and it sits in the high 80s. Bard’s fastball sits anywhere from 92 to 96, and he can mix in a solid changeup with good arm action. He dealt with a strained right lat muscle this past spring but it wasn’t a serious injury. In his last season at Georgia Tech, he would put together a 0.99 ERA in 27.1 innings with 26 strikeouts, six walks, and zero home runs allowed. There were enough positive signs for the Twins to want to select him in the early portion of the draft.

Bard appeared in seven games after signing with the Twins. He was roughed up a bit in his first three outings with the GCL Twins as he posted a 6.75 ERA with three strikeouts and five walks in four innings. He would improve when he got to the Appalachian League, as he didn’t allow an earned run over three innings. He had four strikeouts and two walks. His season ended with another minor injury. At the beginning of 2013, Bard will be given the opportunity to start at some level in the Twins system and it is up to him to show the club he is up to the challenge. (CC)

Attached Image: Luke Bard.jpg


Twins Daily (TD): Growing up North Carolina, who was your favorite team? Who were some of your favorite players?

Luke Bard (LB): I always followed the Braves and Red Sox growing up. The Braves were the closest team to Charlotte so my family would travel down to Turner Field every summer. I became a fan of the Red Sox because both my parents grew up in Massachusetts. Then my brother made it to the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2009 so I have rooted for them since. Now I am all for the Twins!

TD: Tell us about your high school career at Charlotte Christian (baseball and/or other extra-curriculars).

LB: I could not have asked for a better high school experience. I was fortunate to be surrounded by great coaches and friends who helped me succeed athletically and academically. Believe it or not, football was my favorite sport. You can't beat Friday night lights and if I was good enough then I would probably be playing football today.

TD: When the Red Sox took you in the 16th round in 2009, how difficult was the decision for you to go to college instead of signing, especially with your brother in the Red Sox organization?

LB: Like I said before, I was a Red Sox fan growing up so it was a great experience to be drafted by them. Things did not work out for me to sign but I believe everything happens for a reason and it turned out to be a blessing. I made friendships at Georgia Tech that will last a lifetime and cannot imagine my life any other way. I would not have traded my time at Georgia Tech for anything and am thrilled to be a part of the Minnesota Twins organization.

TD: Talk a little about your career at Georgia Tech, one of college baseball’s traditional powerhouses. What were some of the highlights?

LB: We had some extremely talented teams each year I was in college but could not get out regionals for whatever reason. Each season I had high hopes of going to Omaha and was frustrated when we would lose that final game. Baseball is a tricky game and in postseason play it seems like the team that gets hot wins. My sophomore year we played NC State in the ACC tournament. I was our closer but ended up throwing 5 innings and over 90 pitches in extra innings. The game ended up going 15 innings and we won by stealing home in the top of the 15th. It was fun to be a part of.

TD: You have started and you have relieved. Do you have a preference? Do you prepare differently for either role?

LB: Both roles are completely different but I love both. With starting, it's nice to get in a routine of pitching every fifth day so that I can work on different things in between starts. With relieving, there is the adrenaline rush that comes with pitching in the late innings of close games. I love being on the mound with the game on the line and you can't beat closing a 1 or 2 run game. If I had to pick one I would rather start. Starting over the course of a season I feel I can give my team more total innings and a better chance to win more games.

TD: The Twins took you in the supplemental first round, with the 42nd overall pick. Heading into the draft, is that around where you were being told you might be selected? Did you talk to the Twins scouts much heading into the draft?

LB: I had an interesting situation because I tore my right lat in March. Doctors felt my injury was caused by my transition from closing to starting in the middle of the year rather than mechanics or genetics which may have scared teams away. I went from throwing 12-15 pitches in an outing to throwing 90 in just a couple weeks which was really tough on my arm. And since my injury was just muscular, it is not something that would affect my career long term. It would have been fun to know how things would have gone if I pitched the rest of the year but I as I said before everything happens for a reason.

Jack Powell is the Twins scout who drafted me. He has been awesome to work with and nothing but encouraging. I have had the pleasure of getting to know him and becoming friends over the past year. We talk on the phone every few weeks and I always love catching up. I had a pretty good idea of where I would get drafted and was happy when I heard the Twins call my name.

TD: After signing, you got a few innings in rookie ball, but fought injuries throughout the college season and into the pro level. How frustrating were the injuries when you were starting your career, and where are you at physically at this time?

LB: Frustrating would be an understatement. Nothing is worse than having to watch from the bench. As a result, I have been doing everything I can this offseason to get back to my old self. It's a long process but my arm has felt great this offseason. I am really looking forward to getting back on the mound in 2013.

TD: How has your offseason been, and when do you start your preparations for the 2013 season? How will that routine differ from your college workout routine, if at all?

LB: I've been preparing myself for the 2013 season since I left instructs in October. I have been up to Massachusetts twice this offseason to work at Cressey Performance. Eric Cressey trains professional athletes and is years ahead of everyone else in terms of detail in the workouts. Everything we do is pitching specific which will enable me to perform at a high level and stay healthy throughout the 2013 season.

TD: Do you have any goals for the 2013 season? Are there certain statistics that you would like to meet, or that you look at while evaluating yourself?

LB: I am not a big stat guy because stats are often misleading and out of my control. However, I can control my attitude, work ethic, and mental preparation each day. As long as I take care of those aspects, stats will take care of themselves. Going into my first season of pro ball, my goal to learn as much as I can and do everything I can to get better.

TD: I looked and saw that your father spent five years as a catcher in the minor leagues. I assume that he did a lot of catching in the back yard for you and your brothers. Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?

LB: God has blessed me with a wonderful support system. It was nice having a dad that played at such a high level. My dad coached me growing up and has taught me just about everything I know about baseball. Both my Mom and Dad have always been there for me in baseball and in life. My older brothers always pushed me to be my best growing up and have since always been encouraging and motivating. Last but not least, my fiancé has been at just about every game throughout high school and college. It is comforting to know that she and my family are always there for me no matter what.

TD: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? If you were a scout, what would the report be?

LB: Tough question but I hope that scouts say I am a fearless competitor no matter what the situation. I want to be the player and teammate that always finds a way to help my team win.

TD: Favorite baseball movie?

LB: Sandlot. I used to tell people my name was Benny the Jet and rock the PF Flyers in elementary school.

Thank you to Luke! Luke mentioned Jack Powell, the Twins scout that signed him. In the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2013, Jeremy Nygaard had the opportunity to interview him and got lots of thoughts on Bard, Byron Buxton, Niko Goodrum and other Twins minor leaguers that he scouted. Powell was also in the movie Trouble with the Curve.

Best of luck to Luke Bard in the 2013 season. Hopefully it’ll be a season with 100% health and plenty of success!!

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