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  1. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins had their first (and only) off day of the season, a much-deserved respite from the grind of spring training. They return to action on Wednesday night to face the Boston Red Sox at Hammond Stadium. However, things were busy on the minor league side of the complex on Tuesday. I wrote here last Friday that Ervin Santana and JO Berrios were starting minor league games on Tuesday. Lots of people must have known because there were an unusual number of spectators watching.To say that Santana's and Berrios's performances were underwhelming is probably an understatement. Berrios had a very quick first inning, but after that, he really struggled. Unusually, he struggled with command of his pitches. That's not to say he was missing by a lot, but he was missing. In the second inning, he hit two batters (Travis Harrison and Leonardo Reginatto) and walked another (Dalton Hicks). Three came around to score (two on a solid single up the middle by Stephen Wickens) before getting the third out (which can be done in spring training, intrasquad games). The third inning wasn't much better. However, Berrios got his pitches in and feels fine. Santana wasn't struggling so much with control, but he was working on things like his changeup. He got hit a little bit, particularly by 1B Trey Vavra. In his first at-bat, Vavra stayed back nicely on a change-up and doubled to left field. In his next at-bat against Santana, a change-up stayed up and Vavra crushed it well beyond the fence in left-center field. Logan Darnell also tossed an inning in the game. He was sick late last week for a couple of days, so it was an opportunity for him to get into some game action. I talked to several of the players during and after the game. They talked about how nice it is to get to see the big league guys play against them. It was neat to see how many of the minor league pitchers came over to the field when Santana and Berrios were pitching, just to watch. Even though they didn't pitch great, they could see what they threw. They could see how they warmed up, worked with their catchers, and all of that. For the hitters, many of them may never reach the big leagues. Though they don't want to think like this, it's always going to be a memory. To be able to say they faced a 10-year big league veteran, and maybe got a hit off of him. Also worth noting, the Twins front office and much of its coaching staff was there to watch. GM Terry Ryan and Player Personnel Director Mike Radcliff were there. Tom Kelly was observing while at the same time engaging fans for photos and discussion. Assistant GM Rob Antony was out there. Minor League Director Brad Steil is on the minor league fields a lot throughout the day, but his former boss, Jim Rantz also made an appearance. Joe Vavra was there to see his sons play (and watch Santana and Berrios too). Butch Davis and Tom Brunansky were there for some time as well. The nice thing is that they didn't leave when the big league pitchers were done. They stuck around which also has to mean something to the players. OTHER NOTES MInnesotan Onas Farfan pitched an inning in one of the minor league games yesterday. He had Tommy John surgery just over a year ago and was very excited to get back on the mound again. He'll stick in extended spring training, most likely, to start the season, but he's happy to see that all the hard work is starting to pay off. I spent a bit of time chatting with Callan Pearce. As you recall, the South African pitcher played for his country in the WBC-Qualifying tournament in Australia last month. He got to pitch a little bit out of their bullpen. He said that the tournament created a lot of buzz about baseball in their country. They were a pretty young team and Pearce said there is more talent coming through the pipeline. He also was astonished when I talked about how cold it could get in Minnesota in the winters. He will also likely start the season in extended spring, hoping to make it up to Elizabethton this season. Roberto Gonzalez is a very talented kid that the Twins drafted in 2014 out of Orlando. He's currently sidelined with a bum hamstring but hopes to return to the field soon. During his offseason, he spent time hitting (and being coached) by Ken Griffey, Jr. They also talked about defense as well. Gonzalez also said that he met and talked to Barry Larkin. Lewis Thorpe said that he felt real good after throwing a bigger bullpen yesterday. He had the entire day off on Tuesday from throwing, per his rehab plan. Today, he is expected to throw up to 150 feet. The regimen for returning from Tommy John surgery is very structured. Williams Ramirez was our choice last year for Twins short-season pitcher of the year. According to Steve Buhr, who arrived at camp on Tuesday, he saw that he was pretty regularly touching 97 on the radar gun behind home plate. He was more in the low-90s last year, so this is a nice surprise. Joe Maloney was the independent league's player of the year in 2015. In 97 games for Rockland of the Can-Am League, he hit .337/.432/.559 (.991) with 33 doubles, 14 homers and 83 RBI. He also stole 18 of 22 bases. Just 26, he shows a really good approach at the plate and has a ton of power. Not certain yet where he'll fit onto a roster with the catching situation fairly strong, but he has a chance to make an impression. The players that the Twins sent down to minor league camp on Sunday or Monday were at the ballpark on Tuesday. Pat Dean, Mike Strong, JT Chargois, and Jake Reed each threw bullpens and worked on PFPs and such with the AAA team. Randy Rosario threw a bullpen, and he and Yorman Landa worked in the morning with the Ft. Myers team. Alex Swim DHd for the AA team in the game against the Red Wings. Adam Brett Walker batted third and played left field for the AAA Team. Today (Wednesday), the AAA and AA Twins minor leaguers will host the AAA and AA teams of the Baltimore Orioles. The High-A and Low-A teams will travel to play the Orioles teams. Click here to view the article
  2. To say that Santana's and Berrios's performances were underwhelming is probably an understatement. Berrios had a very quick first inning, but after that, he really struggled. Unusually, he struggled with command of his pitches. That's not to say he was missing by a lot, but he was missing. In the second inning, he hit two batters (Travis Harrison and Leonardo Reginatto) and walked another (Dalton Hicks). Three came around to score (two on a solid single up the middle by Stephen Wickens) before getting the third out (which can be done in spring training, intrasquad games). The third inning wasn't much better. However, Berrios got his pitches in and feels fine. Santana wasn't struggling so much with control, but he was working on things like his changeup. He got hit a little bit, particularly by 1B Trey Vavra. In his first at-bat, Vavra stayed back nicely on a change-up and doubled to left field. In his next at-bat against Santana, a change-up stayed up and Vavra crushed it well beyond the fence in left-center field. Logan Darnell also tossed an inning in the game. He was sick late last week for a couple of days, so it was an opportunity for him to get into some game action. I talked to several of the players during and after the game. They talked about how nice it is to get to see the big league guys play against them. It was neat to see how many of the minor league pitchers came over to the field when Santana and Berrios were pitching, just to watch. Even though they didn't pitch great, they could see what they threw. They could see how they warmed up, worked with their catchers, and all of that. For the hitters, many of them may never reach the big leagues. Though they don't want to think like this, it's always going to be a memory. To be able to say they faced a 10-year big league veteran, and maybe got a hit off of him. Also worth noting, the Twins front office and much of its coaching staff was there to watch. GM Terry Ryan and Player Personnel Director Mike Radcliff were there. Tom Kelly was observing while at the same time engaging fans for photos and discussion. Assistant GM Rob Antony was out there. Minor League Director Brad Steil is on the minor league fields a lot throughout the day, but his former boss, Jim Rantz also made an appearance. Joe Vavra was there to see his sons play (and watch Santana and Berrios too). Butch Davis and Tom Brunansky were there for some time as well. The nice thing is that they didn't leave when the big league pitchers were done. They stuck around which also has to mean something to the players. OTHER NOTES MInnesotan Onas Farfan pitched an inning in one of the minor league games yesterday. He had Tommy John surgery just over a year ago and was very excited to get back on the mound again. He'll stick in extended spring training, most likely, to start the season, but he's happy to see that all the hard work is starting to pay off. I spent a bit of time chatting with Callan Pearce. As you recall, the South African pitcher played for his country in the WBC-Qualifying tournament in Australia last month. He got to pitch a little bit out of their bullpen. He said that the tournament created a lot of buzz about baseball in their country. They were a pretty young team and Pearce said there is more talent coming through the pipeline. He also was astonished when I talked about how cold it could get in Minnesota in the winters. He will also likely start the season in extended spring, hoping to make it up to Elizabethton this season. Roberto Gonzalez is a very talented kid that the Twins drafted in 2014 out of Orlando. He's currently sidelined with a bum hamstring but hopes to return to the field soon. During his offseason, he spent time hitting (and being coached) by Ken Griffey, Jr. They also talked about defense as well. Gonzalez also said that he met and talked to Barry Larkin. Lewis Thorpe said that he felt real good after throwing a bigger bullpen yesterday. He had the entire day off on Tuesday from throwing, per his rehab plan. Today, he is expected to throw up to 150 feet. The regimen for returning from Tommy John surgery is very structured. Williams Ramirez was our choice last year for Twins short-season pitcher of the year. According to Steve Buhr, who arrived at camp on Tuesday, he saw that he was pretty regularly touching 97 on the radar gun behind home plate. He was more in the low-90s last year, so this is a nice surprise. Joe Maloney was the independent league's player of the year in 2015. In 97 games for Rockland of the Can-Am League, he hit .337/.432/.559 (.991) with 33 doubles, 14 homers and 83 RBI. He also stole 18 of 22 bases. Just 26, he shows a really good approach at the plate and has a ton of power. Not certain yet where he'll fit onto a roster with the catching situation fairly strong, but he has a chance to make an impression. The players that the Twins sent down to minor league camp on Sunday or Monday were at the ballpark on Tuesday. Pat Dean, Mike Strong, JT Chargois, and Jake Reed each threw bullpens and worked on PFPs and such with the AAA team. Randy Rosario threw a bullpen, and he and Yorman Landa worked in the morning with the Ft. Myers team. Alex Swim DHd for the AA team in the game against the Red Wings. Adam Brett Walker batted third and played left field for the AAA Team. Today (Wednesday), the AAA and AA Twins minor leaguers will host the AAA and AA teams of the Baltimore Orioles. The High-A and Low-A teams will travel to play the Orioles teams.
  3. A few weeks ago, we posted a Q&A with GCL outfielder Rowan Ebersohn. Today, we are fortunate to have a Q&A with the Twins other South African player. When Callan Pearce signed with the Twins in July of 2013 as a 17-year-old he was very raw. In reality, the now-20-year-old remains raw and yet he is very talented. First, Pearce is a very good athlete. He is 6-3 and 190 pounds. He is fast, and quick off the mound. He also has a fastball that sits in the low-90s, touching 93 at times. He’s working on his control. He’s working on his secondary pitches. He has a long way to go.However, as you read the below interview, you can see how hard he’s working. You can see how much this opportunity means to him and his family. You can read his humility. With that, enjoy the following Q&A with Callan Pearce: --------------------------------------------------------- Seth Stohs (SS): Tell us a little about your youth baseball in South Africa. Did you play Little League or other formal baseball leagues? Callan Pearce (CP): South Africa unfortunately doesn't have the structures to those in The USA or to that of Europe therefore we didn't necessarily have a little league system up and running, we moreso had formal leagues in which we played. I played for my local club at home in Durban and traveled to a national tournament yearly to play against the other respective States or " provinces" as we call them. Other than that tournament we played local teams within my Hometown. SS: MLB has a camp in Cape Town that you attended. What is that atmosphere? Is it games, or skills, or a little of everything? CP: We recently had the MLB African Academy in Cape Town. It was and always is incredible returning to that camp whether it be as player or coach. The camp is over the duration of 10 days and looks to give players within the African continent an opportunity to learn the fundamentals and skills to take back to their respective countries/provinces to take African Baseball to a level that can help us compete at a higher level in the coming years. The atmosphere was great. It was a great experience. I loved it! SS: Growing up, who were some of your role models in the game of baseball? CP: We didn't necessarily have the opportunity to watch loads of baseball growing up as they only televised a game every now and then here in South Africa. However I loved watching Roy Halladay pitch. I used to love watching him! SS: Growing up, did you participate in other sports besides baseball? CP: Growing up I played cricket,field hockey, softball and outside of school, I play a little social golf with family and friends when I had free time. SS: As an amateur, how much contact did you have with MLB teams, and what was it that caused you to decide to sign with the Twins? CP: Around the age of 14, there were a couple teams looking at me and following my progress. I was fortunate enough to sign with the Twins from there. The Twins scouts that spoke with me were really great people, really accommodating and easy to communicate with. They were really approachable and that made my decision so much easier. Something just felt right going the Twins route. SS: What was the adjustment like for you last spring moving from South Africa to Florida? What were the biggest challenges? CP: I had to make loads of adjustments this last season, being my first spring training and second extended spring. Here in South Africa we are not accustomed to playing baseball every day. We would train twice a week and play a game on a Sunday. During spring, you have to grind every day. It was a lot more throwing than I was used to. However, it was a great challenge, and I loved every moment of the new experience! The heat in Florida is somewhat like my hometown, so it wasn't too bad in that regard. The biggest challenges I faced would have to be the amount of baseball I played. It was a lot more than I normally got to play which was great but also a little shock to the system! SS: What was the highlight of your 2015 season in the Twins organization? CP: The highlights of my season would have to be the numerous walk-offs our GCL team had at the beginning of the season. It was so exciting to be a part those moments! I loved it! SS: What type of pitcher do you think you are and can be? What are your keys to success on the mound? CP: It's hard to say what kind of pitcher I am. I'm still trying to figure that out myself. I'm still learning more about what I can do with the ball. I'm still developing as a pitcher so I feel only time will tell what kind of pitcher I will be. I'm not overpowering, nor is my stuff by any means great. I feel like right now my work ethic is just my best trait. .Hopefully 2016 will give me more of an idea as to the kind of pitcher I am. SS: Have you played in any international tournaments in a South Africa uniform? If so, what’s it like to play for your country? CP: Yet to represent my country in an international tournament. However, we are playing in the WBC Qualifiers in February in Sydney, Australia, and I'm hoping I will get that that opportunity then. SS: Away from baseball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? CP: I enjoy any sort of friend and family time I can get. I'm hardly home throughout the year, so I love any time with them. I enjoy playing golf when I get the chance! SS: Are there certain areas of your game or preparation that you’d like to focus on during the offseason, looking to 2016? CP: The areas I'm working on for my 2016 season are just to get really strong and powerful. That's currently what I'm working on. I've got a couple innings in the league back home just to work on a few things so I'm excited for what 2016 will bring! SS: What are some of your goals for the 2016 season? Are there certain statistics that you will focus on? CP: I have many goals for 2016. First and foremost, to stay healthy, and then thereafter, I would like to earn myself a promotion to a higher level. I'm putting in loads of work for that, so it would be nice to tick that box. I have some personal goals I would like to achieve, but I'm hoping that what I'm doing now will take care of those goals. SS: What would it mean to you and your family to be able to reach the major leagues and put that uniform on for the first time? CP: I give up loads of family time for baseball. When I come home after season I have to go live in another province where the baseball is stronger so that I can get better. So it would be the greatest feeling for not only me, but my family too, to be able to watch me throw in the big leagues. Sounds lame, but I get teary thinking about it! SS: Are there certain people that you feel helped you get to this point in your career? CP: There are a couple people who have been instrumental in where I am - tough to name them all, but I feel my family have been great in understanding why I have to be away from home so much and their support through the good and bad times has been more than I could ask for! SS: Favorite Baseball Movie? CP: My favourite baseball movie has got to be Moneyball... No doubt! I loved it! ------------------------------------------- Thank you to Callan Pearce for taking time to respond so thoroughly to our questions. Best wishes to him in the 2016 season. Click here to view the article
  4. However, as you read the below interview, you can see how hard he’s working. You can see how much this opportunity means to him and his family. You can read his humility. With that, enjoy the following Q&A with Callan Pearce: --------------------------------------------------------- Seth Stohs (SS): Tell us a little about your youth baseball in South Africa. Did you play Little League or other formal baseball leagues? Callan Pearce (CP): South Africa unfortunately doesn't have the structures to those in The USA or to that of Europe therefore we didn't necessarily have a little league system up and running, we moreso had formal leagues in which we played. I played for my local club at home in Durban and traveled to a national tournament yearly to play against the other respective States or " provinces" as we call them. Other than that tournament we played local teams within my Hometown. SS: MLB has a camp in Cape Town that you attended. What is that atmosphere? Is it games, or skills, or a little of everything? CP: We recently had the MLB African Academy in Cape Town. It was and always is incredible returning to that camp whether it be as player or coach. The camp is over the duration of 10 days and looks to give players within the African continent an opportunity to learn the fundamentals and skills to take back to their respective countries/provinces to take African Baseball to a level that can help us compete at a higher level in the coming years. The atmosphere was great. It was a great experience. I loved it! SS: Growing up, who were some of your role models in the game of baseball? CP: We didn't necessarily have the opportunity to watch loads of baseball growing up as they only televised a game every now and then here in South Africa. However I loved watching Roy Halladay pitch. I used to love watching him! SS: Growing up, did you participate in other sports besides baseball? CP: Growing up I played cricket,field hockey, softball and outside of school, I play a little social golf with family and friends when I had free time. SS: As an amateur, how much contact did you have with MLB teams, and what was it that caused you to decide to sign with the Twins? CP: Around the age of 14, there were a couple teams looking at me and following my progress. I was fortunate enough to sign with the Twins from there. The Twins scouts that spoke with me were really great people, really accommodating and easy to communicate with. They were really approachable and that made my decision so much easier. Something just felt right going the Twins route. SS: What was the adjustment like for you last spring moving from South Africa to Florida? What were the biggest challenges? CP: I had to make loads of adjustments this last season, being my first spring training and second extended spring. Here in South Africa we are not accustomed to playing baseball every day. We would train twice a week and play a game on a Sunday. During spring, you have to grind every day. It was a lot more throwing than I was used to. However, it was a great challenge, and I loved every moment of the new experience! The heat in Florida is somewhat like my hometown, so it wasn't too bad in that regard. The biggest challenges I faced would have to be the amount of baseball I played. It was a lot more than I normally got to play which was great but also a little shock to the system! SS: What was the highlight of your 2015 season in the Twins organization? CP: The highlights of my season would have to be the numerous walk-offs our GCL team had at the beginning of the season. It was so exciting to be a part those moments! I loved it! SS: What type of pitcher do you think you are and can be? What are your keys to success on the mound? CP: It's hard to say what kind of pitcher I am. I'm still trying to figure that out myself. I'm still learning more about what I can do with the ball. I'm still developing as a pitcher so I feel only time will tell what kind of pitcher I will be. I'm not overpowering, nor is my stuff by any means great. I feel like right now my work ethic is just my best trait. .Hopefully 2016 will give me more of an idea as to the kind of pitcher I am. SS: Have you played in any international tournaments in a South Africa uniform? If so, what’s it like to play for your country? CP: Yet to represent my country in an international tournament. However, we are playing in the WBC Qualifiers in February in Sydney, Australia, and I'm hoping I will get that that opportunity then. SS: Away from baseball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? CP: I enjoy any sort of friend and family time I can get. I'm hardly home throughout the year, so I love any time with them. I enjoy playing golf when I get the chance! SS: Are there certain areas of your game or preparation that you’d like to focus on during the offseason, looking to 2016? CP: The areas I'm working on for my 2016 season are just to get really strong and powerful. That's currently what I'm working on. I've got a couple innings in the league back home just to work on a few things so I'm excited for what 2016 will bring! SS: What are some of your goals for the 2016 season? Are there certain statistics that you will focus on? CP: I have many goals for 2016. First and foremost, to stay healthy, and then thereafter, I would like to earn myself a promotion to a higher level. I'm putting in loads of work for that, so it would be nice to tick that box. I have some personal goals I would like to achieve, but I'm hoping that what I'm doing now will take care of those goals. SS: What would it mean to you and your family to be able to reach the major leagues and put that uniform on for the first time? CP: I give up loads of family time for baseball. When I come home after season I have to go live in another province where the baseball is stronger so that I can get better. So it would be the greatest feeling for not only me, but my family too, to be able to watch me throw in the big leagues. Sounds lame, but I get teary thinking about it! SS: Are there certain people that you feel helped you get to this point in your career? CP: There are a couple people who have been instrumental in where I am - tough to name them all, but I feel my family have been great in understanding why I have to be away from home so much and their support through the good and bad times has been more than I could ask for! SS: Favorite Baseball Movie? CP: My favourite baseball movie has got to be Moneyball... No doubt! I loved it! ------------------------------------------- Thank you to Callan Pearce for taking time to respond so thoroughly to our questions. Best wishes to him in the 2016 season.
  5. Recently, Twins Daily had the opportunity to ask Ebersohn some questions so that our readers can get to know him. Seth Stohs (SS): Tell me a little bit about your youth baseball in South Africa. Did you play Little League or other formal leagues? Rowan Ebersohn (RE): The only formal leagues we played in was at baseball club level which were restricted to regional areas as financial costs limited inter-regional competitions. The annual South African National Baseball Championship comprised seven South African Provincial teams of age groups U12’s, U15’s and U18’s with the Senior Championship scheduled for the week prior to the Junior Championship. Little League World Series participation was always a dream of young players but financially there was no funding available to provide for Junior teams to tour. (SS): MLB has a camp in Cape Town that you attended. What is that atmosphere? Is it games, or skills, or a little of everything? (RE): I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend two MLB Academy Camps with one being in Cape Town and one in Durban. The atmosphere within the entire academy was that of “baseball heaven”, firstly by being exposed to direct contact with MLB players/coaches and secondly be given the opportunity to absorb all the knowledge they offered. The MLB Academy was split up into two parts with specific skills being developed in your position followed by the last three days playing games. (SS): As an amateur, how much contact did you have with MLB teams and what was it that caused you to decide to sign with the Twins? (RE): From the age of 13, I was “noticed” by MLB scouts while participating in the annual National Baseball Championships. Every year the scouts attended the Championships and made a point of establishing how much I improved and developed. From the age of 13 up and until 16, I was seen as a pitcher with the first MLB Academy held in Cape Town, having been selected to attend as a pitcher. It was only during the Durban MLB Academy my father and provincial coaches convinced the selectors to put me down as a positional player and more specifically as a batter. All of the interest was no longer with pitching but with batting power. Signing with the Twins came about by having regular contact with Glen Godwin from the Twins organization during our National Championships followed by extensive research done on all of the interested MLB organizations regarding their farm system. It was obvious that the Twins organization offered the most attractive farming system for new signings and the choice was easily made. It was also valuable to talk with fellow South African players I played with on a regular basis that signed with the Twins. Hein Robb and Callan Pearce offered a lot of valuable information to assist in the choices to be made. (SS): What was the adjustment like for you last spring moving from South Africa to Florida? What were the biggest challenges? (RE): The adjustment moving from South Africa to Florida was meant to be difficult with people saying I would become “home sick” and I would be exposed to players/coaches of other nationalities. None of this posed any issues as I was too busy to think about anything else but baseball. I was living my dream and that made it so easy to adapt and enjoy every single moment of my time in Florida. The only challenge I faced was to adapt to the exceptionally high level of baseball being played in the GCL. Back home in South Africa one or two pitchers had the capability to reach 90 mph with off-speed stuff not being too difficult to cope with. Playing in the GCL league I had to adapt very quickly to pitches approaching 95 mph with the off-speed pitches being very difficult to contend with. There were periods where I doubted myself as not being good enough but towards the end of the season became more and more confident and started making decent contact. (SS): What was the highlight of your 2015 season, your first year in the Twins organization? (RE): Without a doubt the highlight of my first season at the Twins was being coached by the calibre of coaches running our GCL side and being involved in a team with so many different characters. Every single “at-bat” was a highlight I treasured. (SS): What type of hitter do you think you are and can be? What were your keys to your success at the plate? (RE): I’d like to think of myself as a well-rounded hitter, by being able to make contact in a pressure situation and to be able to drive the ball in the gap with power to score needed RBIs. Some of my success came from being patient at the plate and picking a good pitch to hit in the strike zone. (SS): Have you played in any international tournaments in a South Africa uniform. If so, what’s it like to play for your country? (RE): I was privileged to play for the South African U18 side when we hosted a five-game series tournament against the Great Britain National U18 side. Playing in a Junior South African team against another National team is such a rare occurrence the moment was actually overwhelming. We ended up beating the Great Britain side 5–0 and apart from being signed by the Twins was without doubt the proudest moment of my life. Being selected into the last World Baseball Classic South African National training squad was my only other taste of National participation. (SS): Away from baseball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? (RE): Any free time away from baseball is a scarce commodity and spend that time with my family and friends. Downtime is taken up by fishing and spending time with the family on the game farm. (SS): Are there certain areas of your game or preparation that you’d like to focus on during this offseason, looking to 2016? (RE): I would like to focus on all the areas that I can in order to give myself a better chance to make a bigger impact at the professional level. I will take a lot of time to work on speed and power as these are the most important aspects to my game. (SS): Growing up, who were some of your role models in the game of baseball? (RE): When I was growing up I learned of, spoke to and even played against Nick Dempsey who played professional baseball in the USA. That started my dream of following in his footsteps and making baseball my career. The achievements of South African batter Ian Holness formed a huge part of my drive to become recognized as a batter and became a role model in the way he batted for South Africa in the 1998 Baseball World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. More recently Gift Ngoepe made me realize that dreams are possible to play professional baseball. (SS): What are some of your goals for the 2016 season? Are there certain statistics that you will focus on? (RE): My goals for the 2016 season would be to be one of the top hitters in the side and to bat higher up in the order during the season. I’m looking to hit for a higher average and raise my power numbers up to a decent number . (SS): What would it mean to you and your family to be able to reach the major leagues and put that uniform on for the first time? (RE): My family’s dream of me being signed as a professional baseball player has already being achieved and whatever the future brings is now up to me. However putting on the major league shirt for the first time would without doubt bring about an event so memorable it will be carried forward in history and never be forgotten in generations to come. Personally, to me it would mean that I am privileged enough to be accepted into a select group of athletes that have worked so hard at attaining that dream that the only goal left is to work even harder to make that dream last as long as possible. (SS): Are there certain people that you feel helped you get to this point in your career? (RE): Firstly, the total support and sacrifice made by my parents to give my brother and me the opportunity to become the baseball players we are today. Secondly my eldest brother whose baseball career was cut short through injury and spent many an hour developing my swing into what it is today. And lastly taking invaluable advice from every single coach involved in my life and using what worked. (SS): Favorite Baseball Movie? (RE): 42 We would really like to thank Rowan Ebersohn for taking time to respond to our questions so thoroughly. Feel free to comment or ask questions below.
  6. In July of 2014, the Minnesota Twins signed an outfielder from South Africa named Rowan Ebersohn. He is a stocky 5-10 and about 200 pounds. The Twins have signed a couple of other minor leaguers from South Africa. He spent the 2015 season in the Gulf Coast League making adjustments to life in a new country as well as plenty of baseball to learn. He held his own and looks forward to the 2016 season.Recently, Twins Daily had the opportunity to ask Ebersohn some questions so that our readers can get to know him. Seth Stohs (SS): Tell me a little bit about your youth baseball in South Africa. Did you play Little League or other formal leagues? Rowan Ebersohn (RE): The only formal leagues we played in was at baseball club level which were restricted to regional areas as financial costs limited inter-regional competitions. The annual South African National Baseball Championship comprised seven South African Provincial teams of age groups U12’s, U15’s and U18’s with the Senior Championship scheduled for the week prior to the Junior Championship. Little League World Series participation was always a dream of young players but financially there was no funding available to provide for Junior teams to tour. (SS): MLB has a camp in Cape Town that you attended. What is that atmosphere? Is it games, or skills, or a little of everything? (RE): I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend two MLB Academy Camps with one being in Cape Town and one in Durban. The atmosphere within the entire academy was that of “baseball heaven”, firstly by being exposed to direct contact with MLB players/coaches and secondly be given the opportunity to absorb all the knowledge they offered. The MLB Academy was split up into two parts with specific skills being developed in your position followed by the last three days playing games. (SS): As an amateur, how much contact did you have with MLB teams and what was it that caused you to decide to sign with the Twins? (RE): From the age of 13, I was “noticed” by MLB scouts while participating in the annual National Baseball Championships. Every year the scouts attended the Championships and made a point of establishing how much I improved and developed. From the age of 13 up and until 16, I was seen as a pitcher with the first MLB Academy held in Cape Town, having been selected to attend as a pitcher. It was only during the Durban MLB Academy my father and provincial coaches convinced the selectors to put me down as a positional player and more specifically as a batter. All of the interest was no longer with pitching but with batting power. Signing with the Twins came about by having regular contact with Glen Godwin from the Twins organization during our National Championships followed by extensive research done on all of the interested MLB organizations regarding their farm system. It was obvious that the Twins organization offered the most attractive farming system for new signings and the choice was easily made. It was also valuable to talk with fellow South African players I played with on a regular basis that signed with the Twins. Hein Robb and Callan Pearce offered a lot of valuable information to assist in the choices to be made. (SS): What was the adjustment like for you last spring moving from South Africa to Florida? What were the biggest challenges? (RE): The adjustment moving from South Africa to Florida was meant to be difficult with people saying I would become “home sick” and I would be exposed to players/coaches of other nationalities. None of this posed any issues as I was too busy to think about anything else but baseball. I was living my dream and that made it so easy to adapt and enjoy every single moment of my time in Florida. The only challenge I faced was to adapt to the exceptionally high level of baseball being played in the GCL. Back home in South Africa one or two pitchers had the capability to reach 90 mph with off-speed stuff not being too difficult to cope with. Playing in the GCL league I had to adapt very quickly to pitches approaching 95 mph with the off-speed pitches being very difficult to contend with. There were periods where I doubted myself as not being good enough but towards the end of the season became more and more confident and started making decent contact. (SS): What was the highlight of your 2015 season, your first year in the Twins organization? (RE): Without a doubt the highlight of my first season at the Twins was being coached by the calibre of coaches running our GCL side and being involved in a team with so many different characters. Every single “at-bat” was a highlight I treasured. (SS): What type of hitter do you think you are and can be? What were your keys to your success at the plate? (RE): I’d like to think of myself as a well-rounded hitter, by being able to make contact in a pressure situation and to be able to drive the ball in the gap with power to score needed RBIs. Some of my success came from being patient at the plate and picking a good pitch to hit in the strike zone. (SS): Have you played in any international tournaments in a South Africa uniform. If so, what’s it like to play for your country? (RE): I was privileged to play for the South African U18 side when we hosted a five-game series tournament against the Great Britain National U18 side. Playing in a Junior South African team against another National team is such a rare occurrence the moment was actually overwhelming. We ended up beating the Great Britain side 5–0 and apart from being signed by the Twins was without doubt the proudest moment of my life. Being selected into the last World Baseball Classic South African National training squad was my only other taste of National participation. (SS): Away from baseball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? (RE): Any free time away from baseball is a scarce commodity and spend that time with my family and friends. Downtime is taken up by fishing and spending time with the family on the game farm. (SS): Are there certain areas of your game or preparation that you’d like to focus on during this offseason, looking to 2016? (RE): I would like to focus on all the areas that I can in order to give myself a better chance to make a bigger impact at the professional level. I will take a lot of time to work on speed and power as these are the most important aspects to my game. (SS): Growing up, who were some of your role models in the game of baseball? (RE): When I was growing up I learned of, spoke to and even played against Nick Dempsey who played professional baseball in the USA. That started my dream of following in his footsteps and making baseball my career. The achievements of South African batter Ian Holness formed a huge part of my drive to become recognized as a batter and became a role model in the way he batted for South Africa in the 1998 Baseball World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. More recently Gift Ngoepe made me realize that dreams are possible to play professional baseball. (SS): What are some of your goals for the 2016 season? Are there certain statistics that you will focus on? (RE): My goals for the 2016 season would be to be one of the top hitters in the side and to bat higher up in the order during the season. I’m looking to hit for a higher average and raise my power numbers up to a decent number . (SS): What would it mean to you and your family to be able to reach the major leagues and put that uniform on for the first time? (RE): My family’s dream of me being signed as a professional baseball player has already being achieved and whatever the future brings is now up to me. However putting on the major league shirt for the first time would without doubt bring about an event so memorable it will be carried forward in history and never be forgotten in generations to come. Personally, to me it would mean that I am privileged enough to be accepted into a select group of athletes that have worked so hard at attaining that dream that the only goal left is to work even harder to make that dream last as long as possible. (SS): Are there certain people that you feel helped you get to this point in your career? (RE): Firstly, the total support and sacrifice made by my parents to give my brother and me the opportunity to become the baseball players we are today. Secondly my eldest brother whose baseball career was cut short through injury and spent many an hour developing my swing into what it is today. And lastly taking invaluable advice from every single coach involved in my life and using what worked. (SS): Favorite Baseball Movie? (RE): 42 We would really like to thank Rowan Ebersohn for taking time to respond to our questions so thoroughly. Feel free to comment or ask questions below. Click here to view the article
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