Drew Strotman is truly a renaissance man; professional baseball player, cinema enthusiast, and Friends connoisseur are just a few phrases to describe the 6'3 righty that joined the Twins as a part of the midseason Nelson Cruz trade last year.
Strotman spent the back end of the summer with the St. Paul Saints where he started 12 games and compiled a 3-3 record through 54 innings. Prior to the trade, the Sunnyville, California native dominated for the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of Tampa Bay), posting a 7-2 record and 3.39 ERA on the season.
WATCH TWINS SPOTLIGHT WITH DREW STROTMAN
Raised in The Bay on McCovey Cove homers and Barry Zito's curveball, Strotman is certain to be an asset for the Twins organization in 2022. It's no secret that the team's rotation and pitching duties are blanketed with uncertainty given the absence of José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, and company.
Yet if there's anyone who has learned to embrace uncertainty and adversity, it's Strotman. Unlike many top prospects, he wasn't a childhood prodigy; he only played two years of varsity baseball in high school and didn't get looks from typical 'blue blood' college baseball programs. He ended up at St. Mary's (CA), the school that plays Gonzaga in basketball as he describes it.
Yet clout and rankings don't determine success; hard work and the willingness to learn do.
Whether it's with the Saints or the parent club, Strotman will have a prime opportunity to showcase his talents to Twins Territory in 2022. A well-versed young man who gives off the 'I'd like to have a beer with this guy' vibe, spending an hour to watch Seth's conversation with Drew is well worth your time.
And while the uncertainty of the 2022 season looms, here are four takeaways from Drew's conversation that will spur your offseason itch for baseball and hopefully prompt some excitement about the talented prospect.
1. Flying under the Radar
As mentioned, Strotman wasn't a a top-tier high school prospect. He would watch Barry Zito in high school and chat with his father about how he'll never be able to throw that fast (and Zito was NOT a flamethrower). Needless to say, things have changed.
Never the 'top' player on his team, Strotman was surrounded by a strong pitching fraternity at St. Mary's, including names like Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin. And while scouts often came to watch bigger names, Strotman's dominance out of the bullpen began to draw eyes; enough eyes to earn him a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft.
2. The Nelson Cruz Trade
Being part of a trade that involves a potential hall of famer is a unique situation to be in. Strotman goes in depth about the experience and the emotions while chatting with Seth.
"I wasn't pitching that day so I was at the end of the dugout rail talking to some people. It was the first inning and one of my coaches came up and just said, 'Hey, you've been traded.'"
Described as an out-of-body experience, Strotman does appreciate the circumstances of the trade given the caliber the Twins have played at in recent years.
"I remember thinking, this is a contending team, they're going to return to a high level in the next couple of years and I hope to be a part of that. It's a land of opportunity with a team that has a solid base. (The trade) wasn't just a player dump."
3. Similarities between the Twins and Rays
While the trade presented it's challenges, Strotman was surprised and impressed with the overlap between the Twins and Rays. Both organizations have strong developmental programs and prioritize cutting-edge analytics and data analysis. That gave Strotman a boost of confidence in terms of learning and moving forward in a new organization.
An accounting major at St. Mary's, Drew appreciates the attention to detail when it comes to analytics in the Twins organization. The fact that so much overlaps with what he learned in Tampa gave him faith in the systems and practices being used by the Twins staff.
That's something that can't be taken for granted when switching organizations. While the Twins and Rays are known for being on the front end, many teams still hone on the 'art of the game' much more than modern analytics. Strotman appreciates the balance that he's found in both organizations.
From a kid who never thought he'd throw harder than Barry Zito, Strotman has come a long way. His fastball was clocked in the high 90's last year at CHS Field and has become a weapon for the emerging star. In addition to the heater, Strotman relies on his 'dip sinker,' comparing it to the pitch that Twins staple Tyler Duffey utilizes. Strotman also uses his curveball but is really honing in on improving his changeup in the offseason. The pitch had moments of brilliance last year but was inconsistent at times. Drew hopes to make this pitch a constant as he aims for a 'true mix' of pitches in 2022.
- Strotman was teammates with Royce Lewis, Jovani Moran, Ben Rortvedt and other Twins in the Arizona Fall League in 2019.
- Amidst the pandemic and shutdown, Drew took to Zoom to complete his college degree in Accounting!
- Despite having Tommy John Surgery between the 2018-19 seasons, Strotman feels healthy as ever and is thankful to overcome the mental hump following the surgery in addition to the physical side.
- Strotman started his own TV series review blog during the 2020 shutdown in order to stay out of the Florida heat. You can find it at BingeWorthy.
- A lifelong learner, Drew has become near fluent in Spanish and is currently working on learning Japanese.
Tune in TONIGHT at 6pm CST for a new episode of Twins Spotlight featuring Twins Minor League Picher of the Year Louie Varland and his brother Gus who pitches in the Dodgers organization!