Over the next weeks and months, I will be posting some Get-To-Know-ĎEm interviews with some Twins minor league players. Itís always fun to get to know the people, the personalities behind the ballplayer. Today, we are going to start with an interview with middle infielder and 2013 draft pick Ryan Walker. The Twins selected him last June in the 18th
round of the draft out of the University of Texas in Arlington. He began his pro career in Elizabethton and spent a week in Cedar Rapids.
So, without further ado, let's get to know, Ryan Walker.
Twins Daily (TD): Growing up in Texas, who was your favorite team, and who were some of your favorite players to watch?
Ryan Walker (RW): My favorite team was always the Rangers since they were only ten minutes from my house, and I was able to go to games often. I never had a real favorite player until Adrian Beltre. Heís fun to watch, does things different, but is an awesome baseball player at the same time.
TD: What are your best memories from your high school baseball days? Did you play other sports?
RW: My favorite memories in high school were playoffs and having to carpool to some games because the bus didnít show up. A lot of fun times just being around guys that Iím still friends with today. I didnít play any other sports in high school, although I wouldíve liked to.
TD: Talk about your decision to go to UT-Arlington. Were you recruited elsewhere too?
RW: I wasnít recruited to too many Division 1 schools, most likely because of my size. UTA ended up being a perfect decision, and I couldnít have had a better time there with that coaching staff and teammates.
TD: What were your best memories/moments from your college playing days?
RW: The best memories, game-wise, were the conference championship games my sophomore year when we ended up winning it. It seemed like every game was just great baseball and several great plays and clutch hits just made it a great time. Outside of actual games, some of our trips to Seattle and other cities were extremely fun and times I definitely wonít forget.
TD: As the draft approached, were you seeing or talking to more scouts? Did you have much conversation with any Twins scouts?
RW: I talked to probably fifteen or so scouts, but the Twins scout I actually sat down with one time and talked to several times. He seemed excited about getting me, and it got me excited at the same time.
TD: When the Twins took you in the 18th
round, where were you and what was that experience like? Was that about where you were expecting to be picked?
RW: When I saw my name picked, I was actually at my brotherís baseball game so my family was there, and they started congratulating me. Everyone in the stands kind of looked at us like we were crazy. I really didnít have an exact idea of where Iíd be going, but it worked out well.
TD: What was the adjustment to pro baseball like for you? (in E-Town and then with the move up to Cedar Rapids)
RW: The main adjustment to pro ball, Iíd say, is just playing daily compared to 3-4 games a week in college. As for the baseball part itself, I try to take an almost naÔve approach and treat it like itís all really the same game, no matter the level. Obviously the ball comes harder, moves more, and people are faster, but I think 90% of problems for me are from overthinking.
TD: If you were to write up a scouting report on yourself, what would it be? What would you say are your strengths, and an area you want to work on to improve most?
RW: Strength and size have always been areas I continually improve on. I like to bunt when itís there because hits are hits to me, but at the same time, adding strength to consistently drive gaps is definitely an asset.
TD: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?
RW: Oh wow! Thatís a long list. Every coach Iíve ever had, and teammates that instilled the drive to succeed along with my parents. They always got me the lessons or equipment needed and that stuff you donít really appreciate as much until later when you actually have to buy gloves and cleats regularly in pro ball! I also think my parents hate cooking now because of how much food I consume.
TD: Outside of baseball, what do you enjoy doing (hobbies, etc.)?
RW: Outside of baseball, I have a ton of things ranging from ping pong to playing banjo. I usually wear my friends out because of how many hours I can play ping pong without stopping. I really just like finding skills and getting good at them. I learned to write computer code last summer. Iíve been skydiving, basically anything exciting and challenging, and I probably enjoy it.
TD: As spring training is now just a couple of months away, what are you most anxious about excited about?
RW: Iím really looking forward to the first full year of pro ball. Iíve put in a ton of work this offseason so I really am just excited to go in and know Iím at the peak of what Iím capable of and have no regrets.
TD: Have you set any goals for yourself for the 2014 season?
RW: I only set a few goals, and the ones I do tend to be extremely lofty goals because I donít really feel like thereís any other way to do it. Iíd like to lead the league in hitting and make an All Star game.
TD: Favorite Baseball movie?
RW: Mr. 3000 is one of my favorite baseball movies.
TD: What is one of thing about yourself that you would want Twins fans to know?
RW: One thing Iíd like Twins fans to know isÖ in about a month or two, Iíll be playing a mean banjo!
Thank you to Ryan Walker for taking time to answer these questions. If you have any further questions for Walker, leave them in the comments below. Maybe he'll stop by to answer some, or I may be able to get some answers as well. Who knows? Maybe we can get some video of him playing his banjo before his next Q&A here!