Get To Know: Twins Minor League RHP Zach Strecker
Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in Louisville, who was your favorite team to follow? Who were some of your favorite players?
Zach Strecker (ZS): Louisville is a huge Reds fan base, but my dad grew up in St. Louis so I was always a diehard Cards fan. Some of my favorite players were Scott Rolen and current player is Adam Wainwright.
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?
ZS: High school memories I had were all hitting. I miss that the most and think I can still hit to this day. But my favorite memory was probably a home run I hit in a wood bat tourney, a feeling I won't forget. But baseball was all I was ever good at.
SS: What was the recruitment process like for you out of high school, and what was it about Kentucky that made you want to go there?
ZS: I was never recruited out of high school. I didn't want to play ball in college because I was hurt so much. And it wasn't until May of my senior year that I wanted to play, and it was too late to be recruited. My coach thought I could play at a JUCO or a small D3 school in Kentucky, but I always wanted to go to school at UK because I grew up a 'Cats fan. So the decision to walk on and show up unknown was a challenge.
SS: What was the experience for you at Kentucky? What were some of your highlights and favorite moments in your four years there?
ZS: I redshirted my freshman year and spent all year working out and gained 40 pounds which wasn't easy. But the experience there was like none other, and I have a group of guys that are now brothers for life. My favorite moment was probably the regional game against rival U of L or the extra-inning game against LSU where the baseball gods were looking after me.
SS: Did you have the chance to speak with many scouts before the draft? Was there any thought that you might be drafted? What was your interaction with Twins scouts before the draft?
ZS: I spoke to zero scouts before the draft. Had zero expectations of even playing pro ball at all. I've always been a dark horse and flown under the radar.
SS: How about after the draft. You didn’t hear your name. What was the timeline and conversation like from the end of the draft to signing with the Twins?
ZS: I had just gotten back from a golf trip with my older brother and one of UK's old assistants, Brad Bohannon, texted me five minutes after the draft ended asking if I wanted to play pro ball. I said no doubt I do and he said he had me a job and that was it until I got a call from a Twins representative.
SS: What has the adjustment like for you, from the amateur/college game to the professional game, both on and off the field?
ZS: Not a lot has changed on the field. You try to stay with your strengths and what got you there in the first place. But off the field it's all about taking care of your body and doing the right things. Hydrating was the biggest change being in Florida in the middle of the summer.
SS: To what do you attribute your success in the GCL?
ZS: A lot of my success has to go to our pitching coaches Virgil (Vasquez) and (Cibney) Bello because they got me over my fear of throwing the inside pitch or the high pitch. It opened up a whole new way to pitch.
SS: What pitches do you throw, and what would you consider your out pitch?
ZS: I throw both a two-seam and four-seam fastball. I also throw a changeup, slider and splitter and would say the splitter is the out pitch.
SS: At this very early stage in your career, what would you say are your biggest strengths?
ZS: Throwing strikes and changing speeds and movement on my pitches.
SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve in the offseason and going forward?
ZS: I'd like to work on consistency in the slider and to continue to attack the inside part of the plate. Also I've been working on shoulder strength to help recovery time and velocity.
SS: Are you be going back to school in the offseason? What was your major in school?
ZS: I graduated last May after five years and I got two degrees, in finance and accounting.
SS: What are some of the things you enjoy doing outside of the world of baseball?
ZS: I like to spend time with family, especially my baby nephew. And I like golfing with my older brother.
SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?
ZS: My parents have always been the biggest supporters, along with my older sister and brother. My brother helped me a lot at a young age when it came to baseball. Also gotta thank the coaching staff at UK for developing me into who I am as a player. Also I'd like to thank Brad Bohannon for always believing in me and getting me here with the Twins.
SS: Favorite baseball movie?
ZS: The Sandlot. Hands down the best there is. Rookie of the Year is good as well.
A big Thank You to Zack Strecker for taking the time to respond thoughtfully to our questions. Please feel free to comment or ask questions below.