Get To Know: Kernels RH RP Tom Hackimer
Let the Q&A begin! Let’s get to know, RHP Tom Hackimer.
Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in New York, who (or which?) was your favorite team to follow? Who were some of your favorite players?
Tom Hackimer (TH): I grew up as a fan of the New York Yankees, and since I played shortstop for most of my career my favorite player was obviously Derek Jeter.
SS: What were some of the better memories of your high school baseball career? Did you play other sports or were you involved in other activities?
TH: The best memory of my high school baseball career was easily when we won the city championship my freshman year. In high school, I also played basketball, as well as being a member of the Science Olympiad team and part of the school concert band and chorus.
SS: What was the recruitment process like for you out of high school, and what was it about St. John’s University that made you want to kind of stay home and pitch there?
TH: I was a shortstop for all four years of high school and did not pitch a single inning in those four years. I was not recruited to play anywhere at all, but was given the option to walk on at St. John's and try to become a pitcher. I decided to take that opportunity since I had a full academic scholarship there anyway, and it ended up working out.
SS: What was the experience for your at St. John’s? What were some of your highlights and favorite moments in your four years there?
TH: I greatly enjoyed my time at St John's, and to me, the highlight of my career is that I pitched well enough to end my career holding all of the relief pitching records at St. John's, and of course, winning the Big East Championship my junior year.
SS: The Mets took you in the 15th round after your junior season. How difficult was the decision to return to school for your senior season?
TH: It seemed like a very difficult decision at the time, but the further I get away from that decision the more clear it becomes that I made the right decision.
SS: Did you have the chance to speak with many scouts before the draft this year? Where did you think that you might be drafted? What was your interaction with Twins scouts before the draft?
TH: I had a chance to speak with many scouts before the draft, either in the fall meetings that we had at St. John's or over the phone, and I was getting the feeling that I would be a top-10 round pick, possibly top 5. My interaction with John Wilson, the Twins scout for my area, was very little during the season as he had promised me when I met with him in the winter. After our season at St. John's had ended, he called and we went over all of the information about the draft.
SS: When you did hear your name in the 4th round, where were you? What your reaction and the reaction of those close to you?
TH: I was at home, watching with my parents, and we were all very excited about what happened, and relieved and happy that my decision to return to school for my senior year had been the correct one.
SS: What has the adjustment like for you, from the amateur/college game to the professional game, both on and off the field?
TH: Off the field, it was learning to deal with the amount of free time that you have, and the fact that your only real responsibility is your on-field performance. On field, it was adjusting my pre-game throwing to deal with playing almost every single day, and dealing with a higher level of hitters than I had seen in college.
SS: To what do you attribute your success in Cedar Rapids, particularly in the playoff race?
TH: I would actually say that I struggled somewhat during the summer, and I went through a few periods of dead arm in the middle of the year that affected both my velocity and command of all of my pitches. However, I was able to still find success by making sure that I stuck to the things that have gotten me to the point I'm at as a pitcher.
SS: How long have you thrown sidearm? Is there a story to how you started doing that?
TH: I've thrown sidearm for two pitches less than I've been a full-time pitcher. My pitching coach when I got to college was Scott Brown, now at Vanderbilt. My first day of practice at St. John's my freshman year, I threw two pitches from my normal overhand slot, then was immediately dropped down to sidearm, and that's how I've pitched since that day.
SS: What pitches do you throw, and what would you consider your out pitch?
TH: I throw predominantly a fastball and slider, and both can be out pitches for me depending on the batter, situation, and sequence of pitches. I also started to work a changeup into my mix during instructs, but it still needs more work.
SS: At this very early stage in your career, what would you say are your biggest strengths?
TH: I would say my biggest strengths are the movement on my fastball, the deception of my delivery, and my ability to spin my breaking ball for a strike when I am behind in the count.
SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve in the offseason and going forward?
TH: This offseason I have spent a lot of time trying to improve my changeup and possibly add a fourth pitch to my mix. I've also spent time refining my command and trying to see if I can get another mile per hour or so on my fastball.
SS: Are you be going back to school in the offseason? What is your major in school?
TH: I have spent a tremendous amount of time at St. John's this offseason, mostly because that's where I have been doing my offseason workouts. I majored in physics at St. John's, and unfortunately still have one more class left to finish my degree. I wasn't able to complete it this fall due to my participation in fall instructs.
SS: What are some of the things you enjoy doing away from the game of baseball?
TH: I play several instruments and sing, so I like to make sure that I keep practicing and improving my skills in those areas. I also read a lot, and am always on the hunt for new books that I might enjoy
SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?
TH: My father and brother were easily two of the most important people that helped me get to where I am, in more ways than I could possibly list. My former hitting coach, Bob O'Brien, was also instrumental in the opportunity that I got to walk on to the team at St. John's, so I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank him as well.
SS: Favorite baseball movie?
TH: Major League, with Bull Durham as a close second.
A Huge Thank You to Tom Hackimer for taking time to answer our questions today at Twins Daily. The righthander is certainly one to watch, particularly as he begins his first full professional baseball season.
If you you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I can get back to Tom, or who knows, maybe he’ll answer himself.