Tyler Erwin: Reliving for the Orioles

The K Zone

January 8th  2017

Tyler Erwin

Interviewed By Mike Duffy



In 2016 Tyler Erwin was drafted in the 23rd round out of New Mexico State and played for the Orioles Class A Short Season Affiliate Aberdeen Ironbirds. He posted a 3.22 era in 22 innings playing for the Ironbirds and appeared in 13 games.


Mike Duffy: I was wondering when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?
Tyler Erwin: First off, getting to each stage is very difficult. Once at each stage the biggest challenge I faced personally was understanding new ways on how to cope with failure. At each point you are going to have games where nothing goes your way out on the mound and it’s in those moments a person really finds out how important this game is to them.


Mike Duffy:  What did you do best this season?

Tyler Erwin: In my first professional season, I really started to study the game more. In college it’s easy to just beat a guy purely based off talent, but in pro ball you are facing some of the best players in the world. But this year I watched hitters more than I ever have, and began learning how to approach each guy and how to attack him effectively.


Mike Duffy: This offseason whats the major thing your planning to work on?

Tyler Erwin: This offseason is different than any other that I have had in previous years. You are very much on your own and have to be the person constantly pushing yourself. My major thing I’m working on this offseason is getting bigger, stronger, and more explosive. From a pitching standpoint, my focus is on my continued progress on command of all my pitches.


Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite thing about being an Oriole?

Tyler Erwin: Being drafted by the Orioles has been a blessing. I’m very proud to be in such a storied and tremendous organization. My favorite part about being an Oriole is the attention to detail in all facets that the organization teaches us.


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Mike Duffy:  What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Tyler Erwin: My favorite hobby outside of baseball is lifting. I love being in the gym, and learning new styles of lifting.


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Mike Duffy:  Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Tyler Erwin: Being a left handed pitcher, growing up I loved watching Randy Johnson pitch. When he retired, my favorite pitcher to watch compete was Sean Doolittle.


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Mike Duffy: What made you a dominant reliever this year?

Tyler Erwin: As a reliever, I really try and dominate the bottom half of the zone. I understand if I focus on this I will induce more ground ball outs which keep my defensive awake and ready to make plays behind me. Limiting the walks and throwing more strikes is crucial when relieving.


Mike Duffy:  What went through your mind when you were drafted?

Tyler Erwin: The day I was drafted was a lot of emotions mixed all together. It was an extremely special day for my family and friends that have helped me get to that point. When I saw my name on the ticker, with a O’s logo next to my name I felt an extreme sense of pride. It is truly a day that I will never forget.


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Mike Duffy:  Hardest batter you faced this season?

Tyler Erwin: I faced a lot of great hitters this year, but one of the most difficult guys I had to face was Pete Alonso. He is a very dangerous hitter who really forces you to make mistakes and dominates those mistakes.


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Mike Duffy:  What is your favorite stadium?

Tyler Erwin: My favorite major league stadium would have to be Camden Yards or Wrigley Field. They are both awesome parks, with a ton of history in their walls. My favorite stadium that I played in this year by far was in Aberdeen, the fans and the love they have for the Ironbirds is incredible.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie/tv show?

Tyler Erwin: I don’t get to watch a ton of tv but I just recently started watching The Office and that by far is my favorite tv show! My favorite movie would have to be either Saving Private Ryan, or Wedding Crashers.


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Mike Duffy:  Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Tyler Erwin: I try to be a positive person no matter what is thrown at me, with that said a motto that helps me is something my junior college coach Tyler Gillum use to always yell at us, NDCQ (not dead can’t quit). That motto really always resonated with me and pushed me.


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Shane Sawczak: Stayin Saucey

The K Zone

January 7th  2017

Updated on December 9th 2017

Shane Sawczak

Interviewed By Mike Duffy



Mike Duffy: How did you get a better control on the ball to get your era down?

Shane Sawczak: I learned how to locate my fastball. Throwing it on both sides of the plate and getting ahead of the hitters. First pitch strikes are key.


Mike Duffy: Hardest thing about pitching?

Shane Sawczak:  The hardest thing about pitching is knowing you will get hit and give up runs but you gotta move past it and keep pitching.


Mike Duffy: Best thing about pitching?

Shane Sawczak: The best thing about pitching is knowing that you are on the mound pitching for your team, then trusting you and you having their backs. Also striking someone out or in my case picking them off at first base (that’s my specialty).


Mike Duffy:  What are your favorite things to do during the off-season?

Shane Sawczak: My favorite thing about off-season and relaxing with friends and family. Learning about myself and looking forward to next season. Working out everyday to get bigger and stronger!


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Mike Duffy: Role model?

Shane Sawczak: My role model is my mom. She’s strong and helps me out with everything. Teaches me about training and eating the correct food.


Mike Duffy: Favorite thing about being a Marlin?

Shane Sawczak: The best thing about being a marlin has to be the location. I also live in south Florida and that’s where they are based. I grew up going to the games and cheering them on.


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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto?

Shane Sawczak: I have several mottos

  1. Your very best (YVB)
  2. Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves
  3. Always stay saucey (lmao)

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Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school to the minor leagues, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Shane Sawczak: With each stage, every player gets smarter and smarter. The hitters don’t help you out at all. You have to be mentally focused and prepare yourself for every single game.


Mike Duffy: Goals for this offseason?

Shane Sawczak: My goals for this offseason are just staying healthy, improving in the weight room and improving my weaknesses. I need to learn how to locate my off-speed better. Improve better spin on my curveball and throw it for a strike and for a strike out pitch. Then simple improve mechanics and the small things.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Tv show?

Shane Sawczak: For my favorite Tv show, I’ve always been of fan of watching “friends”. My mom always watched it when I️ was a baby and I️ just never got over it. I️m also a fan “diesel brothers”


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Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Shane Sawczak: Around high school I️ realized I️ had a chance to play professional. I️ was just always the smallest pitcher on the team. And then my freshmen year of college I️ filled out and I️ really knew I️ was capable of playing pro ball.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Shane Sawczak: My favorite baseball memory was when I️ was 8 and we were in the AAU national championship. We won a big gold ring that was customized to our liking. I️ still remember the game we won and I️ caught the winning out of the game.


Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician and song?

Shane Sawczak: I️ve always been a fan of country music. I️ like Kenny Cheney, Thomas Rhett, Alan Jackson. Any kind of island music I️m into.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Shane Sawczak: Other hobbies I️ enjoy are boating and fixing up old wooden boats.  My current job right now is “classic wooden boats”


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Jacob Nix: Let The F*cker Fly

The K Zone

December 10th  2016 / Updated August 13th 2018

Jacob Nix

Interview by Mike Duffy


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On August 10th 2018, Nix made his Major League debut.

“That call came a little sooner than expected, but Nix showed he was more than ready for it on Friday night, as the Padres rode his strong MLB debut to a 2-0 victory over the Phillies at Petco Park.” –  Jack Baer of MLB.com


Mike Duffy: Who was your role model growing up?

Jacob Nix:  My grandpa is definitely my role model.


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Mike Duffy: What is the hardest thing about pitching?

Jacob Nix: The hardest thing about pitching is that sometimes things really don’t go your way out there haha. You can do everything right, make the right pitches in the right location and sometimes things just flat out don’t go your way.


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Mike Duffy:  Who has been the hardest batter faced so far?

Jacob Nix:  Eloy Jimenez for sure. The guy flat out crushes balls!


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Mike Duffy:  What is your favorite ball park you have played in?

Jacob Nix:  My favorite thing about the season was playing at Parkview Field all year. That park is incredible and I’ll definitely miss it!


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Mike Duffy:  Do you have a motto?

Jacob Nix:  My motto that I put on all my gloves is “LTFF” and it means “let the f*cker fly”.


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Mike Duffy: What did you do to get on the right track last season (2016 season) ?

Jacob Nix: Mechanically I really didn’t change anything, I mainly focused more on repeating my mechanics and being consistent.


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Mike Duffy:  What will you be working on this off season (2016-17 off season) ?

Jacob Nix: This off season/spring training my biggest goal is to develop my change up and get come comfortable with it so that it can be a weapon for me in the future.


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Jacob Nix with Mike Duffy on his debut weekend!

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Imani Abdullah: Can I take this call?

-The K Zone-

December 9th  2016

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In 2015 Imani Abdullah received a call from Magic Johnson while in his 3rd period class at Madison High school to be told he was selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round. Two years later he has just come off a very strong season with the Great Lake Loons (Dodgers A affiliate) pitching 72.1 innings while having a 3.61 era and a 1.13 WHIP (walks+hits/Innings Pitched). I hope you enjoy my interview with Dodger prospect Imani Abdullah!

 

Mike Duffy: What was it like finding out you were drafted during school??

Imani Abdullah: It’s was crazy! A Dream come true. I found out during my third period stats class!

Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a dodger?

Imani Abdullah: The dodgers are big on building strong relationships and I love that.. I also like the fact that they treat/evaluate all players equally regardless of who you are or what round you got drafted…

Mike Duffy: What was the moment this season?

Imani Abdullah: The best thing I did during the season was celebrate after we won the Midwest league championship!

Mike Duffy: What was it like winning the championship? 

Imani Abdullah: Absolute amazing… coming together as a team and winning the Midwest league title was one of the best feelings in the world.

Mike Duffy: Who is the toughest hitter you have faced?

Imani Abdullah: Eloy Jimenez…….

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Mike Duffy: Best thing about pitching?

Imani Abdullah: For me, the Best part about pitching is that you’re in control and you’re the leader. When you’re on the mound you play a big part of that teams win or even loss.. (hopefully a win lol).

Mike Duffy: Hardest thing about pitching? 

Imani Abdullah: Trying to find a way to get outs without having your best stuff

Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto? 

Imani Abdullah: I don’t really have a motto..

Mike Duffy: Who are your role models?

Imani Abdullah: I’ve always looked up to my parents as role models. They have always guided me in the right direction and they always support me in the decisions I make.

 

 

 

pic credit: The Great Lakes Loons’ Imani Abdullah pitches during the Loons’ game against the Lansing Lugnuts at Dow Diamond on Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (Josie Norris | MLive.com File) (Josie Norris | MLive.com File) 

 

 

Ryan Miller: Keep working when your alone

-The K Zone-

December 8th  2016

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Just coming off his 3rd season in the Minor leagues he had a pretty good seaosn in AA. He’s a big believer in working hard and being the best person you can be when none is watching. I hope you enjoy my interview with Padres catcher Ryan Miller!

Mike Duffy: Favorite memory this season?

Ryan Miller: Hitting a walk off single… cause the night before I had the opportunity to have a walk off but got out Role model – I always looked up to Yadier Molina ! Great defensive catcher , leader, and becoming a better offensive player year by year.

Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto?

Ryan Miller: Who are you when no one is watching

Mike Duffy: Favorite thing about being a Padre?

Ryan Miller: Near my hometown! The best city in the world. Lovely sites, beaches. Beautiful ball park

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Mike Duffy: Best thing about catching?

Ryan Miller: you’re in charge, you see the whole field , control the game. You’re in every pitch. A lot going on physically and mentally

Mike Duffy: Hardest thing about catching?

Ryan Miller: I would say the mental and physical tear it puts on your body !

Mike Duffy: Favorite person to catch?

Ryan Miller: I don’t necessarily have one favorite pitcher, I have a few. But it’s usually those who trust in me. Trust the plan. Have good tempo and hit spots majority of the time. Makes the game smooth and kinda fly by. Connections with pitchers is huge

Mike Duffy: Favorite pitcher to face?

Ryan Miller: And same with a pitcher to face but I believe stats show I do better against left handers , so I’ll stick with that haha. Lefties

Mike Duffy: Favorite stadium to play in?

Ryan Miller: Probably when in Low A , the Fort Wayne Tincaps . It’s basically a mini big league field. It’s beautiful, well maintained. Always stuff going on and always have a packed crowd

Andrew Sopko: Going 13 & 4

The K Zone

December 7th  2016

Andrew Sopko

Interviewed By Mike Duffy


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Andrew Sopko played for both the Tulsa Drillers and Rancho Cucumonga Quakes in the Dodgers organization. He went 13 and 4 and that talent is what brought him to this level.


Mike Duffy: I was wondering when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Andrew Sopko: At each stage that I have reached so far, different challenges arise and it becomes a matter of working hard. Talent only takes a player so far so in order to get to the next stage of my career I think hard work is what gets me through each challenge.


Mike Duffy: What did you do best this season?

Andrew Sopko:  Coming into the season I didn’t have very many expectations but being able to reach Double A far exceeded my expectations. I was able to pitch like I always have, learn from the many coaches I came across, and make adjustments from what I learned.


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Mike Duffy: This offseason whats the major thing your planning to work on?

Andrew Sopko: This offseason I am looking forward to resting my arm, as I threw more innings this year than I ever had. I’m also looking to gain overall strength and flexibility with my body.


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Mike Duffy: What is the hardest thing about being a pitcher?

Andrew Sopko: As a player there are always going to be road blocks and struggles in your career. I have been fortunate to not have any major road blocks but I know many players that have to endure those struggles. My advice would be to never give up and always have an open mind about your craft.


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Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Andrew Sopko: My favorite hobbies other than baseball are probably playing basketball, hiking, and reading.


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Mike Duffy: Besides your hard work who do you dedicate your success to? Why?

Andrew Sopko: I can dedicate most of my success to the many coaches and especially my father. My dad was the one who taught me how to throw a baseball. Everyone who has coached or instructed has had an impact on my success in this game.


Mike Duffy: Why do you love being a Dodger?

Andrew Sopko: Being a Dodger has become a dream come true. This history that belongs to that name speaks for itself and also I see how this organization is run which is a big reason why the future is bright!


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Kevin Gowdy: Striking Gold

The K Zone

December 5th  2016

Revised on December 3rd 2017

Kevin Gowdy

Interviewed By Mike Duffy

 

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Kevin Gowdy was drafted by the Phillies in the second round this year and is now ranked as the #11 Prospect in the Phillies Organization. In 2015 he went on to help the Team U.S.A 18U team win a gold medal and some of his teammates included other top draft picks this year like Will Benson, Blake Rutherford, and the First pick of the Draft Mickey Moniak. Deciding to sign with the Phillies rather then attending UCLA, he knows what he wants; and thats to play professional baseball!  Here my interview with Phillies next sensation Kevin Gowdy.


Mike Duffy: What makes you so successful as a pitcher?

Kevin Gowdy:  The mental part of pitching is a big huge part
of it for any pitcher. Once you get to the professional level, so many pitchers have such good stuff and I think it’s the ones who are mentally tough and can compete that end up being successful in the big leagues.

Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite thing about pitching?

Kevin Gowdy:  My favorite thing about pitching is being handed the ball every seven days and just going out there and doing what I can to help my team win

Mike Duffy: Was it a tough decision to sign rather then going to UCLA?

Kevin Gowdy:  It was definetly a tough decision deciding to sign instead of going to UCLA. There were so many great things about each option, but so far I’m very happy with my decision of signing.

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Mike Duffy: What went through you head when you were drafted?

 
Kevin Gowdy:Getting drafted was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I tried to not think about it, but I was really anxious just to see what would happen in the draft.

Mike Duffy: Most exciting thing about being a Philly?

Kevin Gowdy: The most exciting thing about being a Phillie is just being able to come to the park everyday and learn from all the great coaches and teammates we have. Everyone is always there to help you and I’m thankful to be in such a great organization.

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Mike Duffy: Who is your role model?

Kevin Gowdy: My role models are my parents. They’ve always taught me to be the best person I can and to have perseverance and never give up no matter what the situation may be.

Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto you live by?

Kevin Gowdy: A motto I live by is “next best thing”, whether that be in baseball in life. Life has its up’s and downs, and baseball can be such an unpredictable game so you always have to move on and think what is the next best thing I can do, regardless of the situation.

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Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school to the minor leagues, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Kevin Gowdy: The biggest challenge from high school to pro ball is probably how much work it is. In high school we’d only play 2-3 games a week, and pro ball is everyday.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Kevin Gowdy:  My favorite hobby outside of baseball is probably going to the beach.


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Kevin Gowdy: My favorite baseball player growing up was Zack Greinke, but Nolan Ryan’s always been my favorite pitcher even though I never got to see him pitch.


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Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?

Kevin Gowdy: The royals were my favorite team growing up because my dads from Kansas City.


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Mike Duffy: Goals for this offseason?

Kevin Gowdy: My goal for this offseason is to rehab my elbow really well so when I start throwing again in January I won’t have any pain or setbacks.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Kevin Gowdy: My favorite stadium is either Citizens Bank Park or Dodger stadium.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Kevin Gowdy: My favorite movie would probably have to be Stepbrothers.


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Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Kevin Gowdy: I’ve always dreamed of playing professional baseball but it never really became a reality until later in high school.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Kevin Gowdy: My favorite baseball memory is winning a gold medal with the 18u USA baseball team in Japan.


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Mike Duffy: What was it like to win the gold medal?

Kevin Gowdy: Winning a gold medal with Team USA was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Playing with your country on your chest just takes everything to a new level, and I still get goosebumps by just thinking about when we won.

Mike Duffy: What is one takeaway after your first full season?

Kevin Gowdy: My first takeaway after my first full season is learning how to deal with adversity and keep my head up.


Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician and song?

Kevin Gowdy: That’s a tough one, I don’t think I could choose a single favorite haha. But I am really into country and classic rock music.


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David Paulino

-The K Zone-

November 30th 2016

 

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The other day I was very fortunate to write back and for with the #4 prospect of the  Astros   and #54 out of the entire MLB prospect rankings! Unfortunately the interview was very short due to the language barrier, yes you heard that right, he only speaks Spanish. This did take me about 10 minutes to realize after the fact he read my response but never responded. Then the techie guy I am decided to send the same message using google translate and the little Spanish I know from class to try again. Here is the interview that has been translated from English to Spanish to English back to Spanish and now back to English and edited. Below this is the actual Spanish version! Hope you enjoy!

Mike Duffy: Hi David, I guess you only speak Spanish right?

 

David Paulino: Hi, Yes that is true. How are you?

Mike Duffy: I’m really good!I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?

David Paulino: Sure, no problem!


Mike Duffy:  How was your Tommy John surgery recovery?

David Paulino: Well the process was very long but thank god it was very successful!

Mike Duffy: You had great statistics this year! What made you so successful?

David Paulino: Well what made me succeed this year, was my how well I did my job and    the way I prepared myself, and also my trust in God which was very
important!

Mike Duffy:  There is a talk that could be Traded… What do you think? Would you be
upset?

David Paulino: I have no problem problem with being traded. I prefer that I would not be traded but for me there will be no problem if it is the will of God.

Mike Duffy: Thanks!


Original interview in Spanish

Mike Duffy: Solo hablas español?

David Paulino: Si, Hola como esta, Claro no hay problema

Mike Duffy: ¿Cómo fue la recuperación de tommy john?

David Paulino: Bueno él proceso fue muy largo pero gracias a dios fue muy exitoso

Mike Duffy: Tuviste grandes estadísticas este año, ¿qué te hizo tener tanto éxito?

David Paulino: Bueno lo que me hizo tener exito este año fue mi trabajo la forma de prepararme, Y confiar en Dios, Que es lo importante

Mike Duffy: Hay una charla que podría ser intercambiado ¿qué te parece?

David Paulino: No hay problema problema con eso no me gustaría ser intercambiado conmigo no habrá problema si es la voluntad De Dios

Mike Duffy: Gracias!

Zach Eflin: Earning a role in the Phillies rotation

-The K Zone-

November 24th 2016

 

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When Phillies starter Vince Velasquez went on the DL an opportunity for  Zach Eflin appeared. After a very rocky first outing Zach seemed to calm down and if you watched him you he looked as if he has been in the majors for a long time. His talent (and a great sinker) lead him to have his first win be a complete game only letting one run score. His passion for baseball and hard work has paid off and with a injury ending his season early people can’t wait to see what he has in store for next season.

 

Zach Eflin: Awesome man, Shoot me some questions brotha!

Mike Duffy: I was wondering… When you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Zach Eflin: Alright so I would say the biggest challenge is accepting and understanding that wherever you are that you deserve to be there.

Mike Duffy: What did you do best this season?

Zach Eflin: I believe I really was able to focus on controlling and dominating a game. I was able to learn so much about sequences and how to keep hitters off balance.

Mike Duffy: When you were drafted was it a difficult decision to make to turn down college?

Zach Eflin: When I was drafted it was a difficult decision to make between college and pro for many reasons. It was my dream to play in the Major Leagues and when I got the opportunity to kick start it I could not pass up.

Mike Duffy: I remember watching  your complete and I was like “wow” what a guy. How did you feel after that? How did you celebrate?

Zach Eflin: When I threw the complete game to get my first win I was obviously overwhelmed with joy. Just a very special way to get my first win. I was able to talk to my family after and really just made sure they knew I wouldn’t be there without them. I did not do any celebrating unfortunately. I was drenched in a Gatorade bath and considered that my celebration.

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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto you live by?

Zach Eflin: “Walk by faith, not by sight” 2nd Corinthians 5:7 has to be the motto of my life. It’s telling you to trust your instincts to trust your heart And believe that with god the father you do not need vision to have an eternal life.

Mike Duffy: Most important… How’s your leg feeling?

Zach Eflin: Lastly the legs are doing great!! Progressing very well every single day. It is still very early in the rehab process but I feel better than I ever have in my life and cannot wait until spring!

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Mike Duffy: Have a great Thanksgiving and thank you so much for doing this! I can’t wait to watch you succeed even more! Best of luck!

Zach Eflin: Happy thanksgiving to you and your family!

Mike Duffy: Thank you so much I really appreciate it!

Zach Eflin: I remember seeing you in the corner by the bullpen in LA! Take care buddy, anytime.

Mike Duffy: Haha thats awesome!

Check out my Interview with Grant Dayton or Ian’s article on what goes into Wins Above Replacement.

 

 

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