Target Field - Phenom Aaron Hicks is not the only Minnesota Twins player who will be making the jump from AA to the big leagues in 2013. Rule 5 pick Ryan Pressly is also making that jump, and he’s admittedly, and understandably, “pretty nervous right now” as the Twins and Tigers are preparing to open their 2013 seasons at Target Field this afternoon.
Hicks spent the entire 2012 season in New Britain. Pressly didn’t make his AA debut until mid-July, shortly after making the transition from being a starting pitcher to his new role in the bullpen. Pressly pitched very well in the Arizona Fall League in 2012 and impressed the Twins brass enough to make him their Rule 5 selection in December. By rules, the Twins are required to keep Pressly on the big league roster the entire 2013 season or would have to offer him back to the Red Sox.
Pressly is hoping to stick around with the Twins for awhile. Twins Daily had the opportunity to talk to the hard-throwing, 24-year-old right hander from Dallas before batting practice today. It wasn’t hard to tell that Pressly is thrilled to be with the Twins and in the big leagues. His ear-to-ear smile tells that story clearly.
“I’m pretty nervous right now. I wouldn’t say nervous, more anxious than anything, because it’s Opening Day. A lot of these guys have gone through it, but some of us haven’t and it’s pretty fun, pretty entertaining.”
He found spring training to be even more than he was anticipating this spring. “(I) never realize how the competition was there, and it just kind of shocked me. I was more in shock when I got there, seeing all the guys in camp, everybody competing. It was fun though.”
It was fun, in part, because he pitched incredibly well. In 13.1 innings over 10 spring training games, he gave up just one run on nine hits. He posted a 0.66 ERA and opponents hit just .191 off of him. What did he credit for his success?
“Just attacking hitters. I was just going after them. I didn’t really try to get too cute with anything. I just wanted to throw all my stuff for strikes and try to get people out. That’s really all you can do.”
It was really just a continuation of his successful AFL stint where he walked just one and struckout 18 in 14 innings. The righty throws 95 with good, power curveball.
“I guess at the AFL and the end of AA season, it all just kind of clicked. I really can’t explain it. I can’t explain what I have done, but it’s just clicked. I guess moving to the bullpen, a new role it’s just helped a lot. ”
Having come from the Red Sox organization, he already was familiar with the city of Ft. Myers. The Red Sox spring training facilities are just across town. The two teams played several times throughout spring training. It was after an appearance against the Red Sox when Pressly was told the news he had hoped for all spring training, that he would make the Twins Opening Day roster.
“I got done throwing, and I wasn’t even two steps into the dugout and (Ron) Gardenhire shook my hand and said ‘Congratulations, You made the team.’ I was just in shock, and I didn’t even know what to say or do. I just shook his hand and said, ‘OK.’”
His dad was in a business meeting at the time, but he still called home. “I called my mom, and she was ecstatic. Screaming. I think she was crying a little bit, but it was an awesome feeling. I don’t think I was even out of my cleats yet.”
Pressly played most of the 2012 season with Jackie Bradley, Jr. who made his major league debut today as the Red Sox left fielder after splitting the 2012 season between A ball and AA ball.
Pressly is excited for his first Opening Day, as he should be. He’s even excited to get to partake in the Twins bullpen tradition. How does he feel about carrying out the pink backpack full of treats? He’s excited. “I’ve got everything organized in there already. I just have to take some drink requests after we get done throwing.”
Pressly isn’t completely certain what role or what types of situations he’ll be put into. He couldn’t stop smiling during a pre-batting practice interview. It’s a great story. As Twins fans, let’s hope that he pitches well and keeps on smiling throughout the season.