Gavin Garay: Elevating People Around

-The K Zone-

January 1st 2018

Gavin Garay

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Photo by Ed Delany

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

Gavin Garay: It was always a dream of mine but it became real around my junior year of high school when I committed to college.


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Gavin Garay: Derek Jeter.


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Mike Duffy: What team were you the biggest fan of growing up?

Gavin Garay:  The New York Yankees.


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Mike Duffy: What is it like being apart of the Mets Organization?

Gavin Garay:  It’s awesome. A dream come true being from New York and play by for a NY team.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Gavin Garay:  My favorite baseball memory is either being drafted or high School baseball playoffs.


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

Gavin Garay:  Just try to stay positive and reach out to the people closest to me for advice!


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite book?

Gavin Garay: My favorite book is either Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk or The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Gavin Garay: Favorite movie is probably 12 Strong.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Tv show?

Gavin Garay: Game Of Thrones no doubt.


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician and what’s your favorite song?

Gavin Garay: Eminem and don’t really have a favorite maybe 20/20 by logic.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Gavin Garay: I love to hunt and fish as well as self educating, working out, and building my business Elevate which is a clothing brand.


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Mike Duffy: What inspired you to create Elevate clothing?

Gavin Garay: It’s always been a vision of mine and always something I wanted to do. When I got drafted I was able to put it into motion and start building it. Always have wanted to help motivate people and empower people to chase there dreams.


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For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!

Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo Killed in Car Crash

– The K Zone –

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December 8, 2018

Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo Killed in Car Crash by Mojo Hill

In a tragic and heartbreaking Tweet that was posted Friday night, it was reported by Marcos Grunfeld M. of Univision Deportes that former MLB infielders Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car accident that night.

Valbuena and Castillo were in Venezuela playing in a winter league for the Cardenales de Lara. They were reportedly in car together on Friday morning with former Major Leaguer Carlos Rivero, who was able to survive the accident. It was Rivero’s driver who was driving the car, and he was unable to avoid a large rock that had been purposely thrown onto the road.

This is apparently a common tactic in the dangerous streets of Venezuela, as rocks are purposely and strategically placed on roads in attempts to perpetrate highway robberies. In this case, it led to two tragic deaths. In a sense, one could say that this was no accident and that the two players were murdered.

Valbuena, who was just 33 years old, appeared in 11 Major League seasons for the Mariners, Indians, Cubs, Astros, and Angels, and was a free agent at the time of his death. His best season came in 2014 for the Cubs, when he posted an impressive 118 wRC+ and 3.2 fWAR. Overall, he was a career .226/.310/.394 hitter in 1011 games with 114 career home runs. His main position over his career was third base, but he also saw time at second base, first base, shortstop, and even 15.1 innings in left field.

Most importantly, however, everyone who ever knew him or played with him remembers him for his infectious smile and burning passion for the game.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch had this to say about the tragedy:

“I am so sad to hear about the sudden loss of Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo. I will miss Luis’ banter, smile, genuine love for his teammates, and, of course, the bat flips. He was a beloved person whether he was on our team or across the field. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the lucky ones who could call him a teammate or friend.”

Countless former teammates and friends also grieved for his loss over social media, and they all emphasized just how much love Valbuena had for the game and for his teammates.

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Perhaps the best moment of his career came on July 8, 2016, when Valbuena was on the Astros. Down 9-7 in the bottom of the 9th to the Athletics, with runners on the corners and one out, Valbuena blasted a three-run walk-off home run off Ryan Madson, and of course followed it with one of his signature bat flips.

It is obvious just how much respect everyone around baseball had and has for Valbuena, who will never be forgotten from the baseball community.

Castillo was just four years older at age 37, and had MLB experience as well. He was a regular second baseman and third baseman for the Pirates from 2004-2007, and played for the Giants and Astros in 2008. Overall he was a career .254 hitter in 592 games and over 2000 plate appearances.

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Despite not having played in MLB since 2008, it was clear that Castillo loved the game as much as anyone, as he was still participating in the Venezuelan winter league. After his MLB career was over, he also played for various Mexican League teams from 2011-2016.

Castillo was an equally important member of the baseball community and along with Valbuena, will never be forgotten.

This tragedy continues what seems to be becoming an all-too-common theme in baseball recently.

In 2014, young Cardinals outfielder was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic. Two years later in 2016, the infamous boating accident involving star pitcher Jose Fernandez occurred. Then there were two more car crashes in the Dominican in 2017, with Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura both getting killed on the same day. Tragedies like these are happening just too often now.

With that said, on behalf of everyone from The K Zone, we send our best wishes to the families of the deceased and everyone who knew them or played with them. They will be missed but never forgotten from our wonderful baseball community.

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Player Q&A’s


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Scott Braun – MLB Broadcaster


Yankees


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Estevan Florial


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Devyn Bolasky


Dodgers


548389.jpgRoss Stripling 


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Tim Loncastro


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Mitchell Hansen 


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Gavin Lux


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Hunter Speer


Nationals


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Jackson Rutledge


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Jared Johnson


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Philip Caulfield


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Andruw Monasterio


Phillies


 

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Rhys Hoskins


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Zach Eflin


 


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Scott Kingery


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Kevin Gowdy


 

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Grant Dyer


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Trevor Bettencourt


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Luke Leftwich


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Kyle Young


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Darick Hall


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Dominic Pipkin


Angels


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Jahmai Jones


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Ryan Scott


Astros


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Ray Henderson


Athletics


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Austin Beck  (Round 1-Pick 6)


Blue Jays


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David Paulino


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Andrew Sopko


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Corey Copping 


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Brandon Polizzi


Indians


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Nolan Jones


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Will Benson


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Lenny Torres Jr.


Brewers


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Corbin Burnes


Mariners


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Brandon Brennan


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Eric Filia


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Logan Gilbert 


 

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Sam Carlson (Round 2-Pick 55)


Marlins


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James Nelson


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Shane Sawczak


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Trevor Rodgers (Round 1-Pick 13)


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Sean Reynolds


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Brandon Miller


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Tristan Pompey


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Billy Fleming 


Orioles


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Tyler Erwin


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Franciso Jimenez


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Yelin Rodriquez


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Zach Pop 


Padres


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Jacob Nix


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Dylan Coleman


Rangers


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Jonathan Hernandez 


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Kole Enright


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Brendon Davis


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Joe Palumbo


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Chad Smith


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Bubba Thompson (Round 1-Pick 26) 


Twins


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Ian Miller 


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Chase Dejong


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Tyler Watson


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Alex Robles 


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Benjamin Rodriguez 


Diamondbacks


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Jon Duplantier


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Ryan Dobson 


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Dan Swain 


Rays


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Robbie Tenerowicz


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Drew Strotman


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Mikey York


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Nick Schnell


Cardinals


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Johan Oviedo


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Ryan Helsley


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Jim Haley


Braves


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Grant Dayton


Royals


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Trevor Oaks


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Tyler Zuber


Mets


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Pat Biondi


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Gavin Garay


Giants


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Kevin Pillar


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Sean Hjelle


White Sox


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Ryan Burr


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Caleb Frare


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Luis Curbelo Jr. 


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Steele Walker


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Casey Schroeder


Retired/Released


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Ty Kelly


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Cord Sandberg


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Ryan Miller


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Joel Toribio


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Tyler Adkison


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Pat Light


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Imani Abdullah


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Sam Tidaback


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Luke Persico


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Chris Powell


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Luis Perez 


 Under Construction….

Reds

Rockies

Cubs

Pirates

Red Sox

Tigers

 

 

 

2018 MLB Awards Picks

National League

MVP

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Yelich Yelich deGrom Yelich Yelich  Yelich
2 Rendon Carpenter Yelich Arenado Freeman Arenado
3 Arenado Rendon Arenado Carpenter Story deGrom

Breakout star Christian Yelich took first place pretty yelich.PNGeasily here, except for Mojo, who thought Jacob deGrom’s historic season was enough to earn him MVP nods. After that was a bit of a mix, with Anthony Rendon, Nolan Arenado, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Story, and Freddie Freeman all receiving votes.

Cy Young 

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 deGrom deGrom deGrom deGrom deGrom deGrom
2 Nola Scherzer Scherzer Scherzer Nola  Scherzer
3 Scherzer Corbin Nola Nola Scherzer Nola

With Jacob deGrom dominating the league with hisdegrom.PNG 1.70 ERA, The K Zone members were easily able to overlook his 10-9 record, as he received unanimous first-place votes. Everyone had Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola as their second and third picks, except for Ian, who was not as impressed with Nola and instead snuck in a vote for Patrick Corbin and his 2.47 FIP.

Rookie of the Year

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Soto Acuna Soto Acuna Acuna Acuna
2 Buehler Soto Acuna Buehler Soto Soto
3 Acuna Buehler Buehler Soto Buehler Buehler

All of The K Zone writers had the same three rookies, acuna.PNGbut in various orders. Ultimately, Ronald Acuna edged out Juan Soto for first place, while Walker Buehler sat comfortably in third. Buehler was spectacular in his own right; in a different year, his 2.62 ERA and 9.90 K/9 may have won him the award.

Manager of the Year

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Counsell Counsell Counsell Snitker Snitker Counsell
2 Snitker Snitker Black Counsell Counsell Snitker
3 Kapler Black Snitker Black Black Black

There wasn’t a whole lot of controversy on this award. councell.jpgIt was the same three managers for all five writers, with three of them putting Craig Counsell and the other two putting Brian Snitker, with the exception of Mike, who was impressed with the job done by the Phillies’ Gabe Kapler.

American League

MVP

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Trout Trout Trout Betts Trout Trout
2 Betts Betts Betts Trout Betts Betts
3 Ramirez Ramirez Ramirez Ramirez Ramirez Ramirez

This award was the least controversial out of them all trout.PNGamong The K Zone staff. Each writer’s ballot was identical, with the one exception of Maddie putting Mookie Betts ahead of Mike Trout for first place. Trout and Betts were the clear top two, and all five writers agreed that Jose Ramirez’s season-ending slump wasn’t enough to offset the terrific season he had overall on offense and defense.

Cy Young

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Snell Verlander Snell Snell Snell Snell
2 Verlander Sale Verlander Sale Verlander Verlander
3 Cole Cole Sale Verlander Cole Sale

Most of the voters were all about Blake Snell and his snell.PNGleague-leading 1.89 ERA, not to mention his 11.01 K/9, but Ian wasn’t as impressed, as he left Snell completely out of his top three. Chris Sale likely would have won this award in a landslide if he had the same stats over more innings, but the lack of innings pushed him down a spot or more on every writer’s list. While Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole also had very strong years, it was surprising to see that not one writer voted for Trevor Bauer, who had the second lowest qualified ERA and FIP in the AL. Snell’s sub-2 ERA ended up getting him the win pretty easily, while Verlander’s advantage in innings put him over the edge against Sale’s pure dominance.

Rookie of the Year

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Andujar Andujar Ohtani Ohtani Ohtani Ohtani
2 Ohtani Torres Wendle Andujar Andujar Andujar
3 Torres Bieber Andujar Torres Torres Torres

Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese hitting and pitching ohtani.PNGsuperstar, did something that nobody had done since Babe Ruth, and while his innings were severely limited due to injury, the overall body of work and top-tier hitting were extremely impressive. At least, four of the writers seemed to think so. Ian chose to leave Ohtani out of his top three, and instead put the under-the-radar Indians pitcher Shane Bieber, who had a mediocre 4.55 ERA but strong peripherals. Mojo, valuing defense more than the other writers, also went with an under-the-radar pick in putting Joey Wendle second. Everyone agreed on putting Andujar ahead of Torres, but Ohtani and Andujar were neck-and-neck for first place despite their very different cases for the award and styles of play.

Manager of the Year

Mike Ian Mojo Maddie Jack The K Zone Official Ranking
1 Cash Melvin Cash Cora Melvin Cash
2 Cora Cash Melvin Cash Cash Melvin
3 Melvin Cora Cora Melvin Hinch Cora

For this award, the popular picks were two managers cash.PNGwho led underdog teams to great seasons along with the manager of the team with the best record in baseball who eventually went on to win the World Series. The only exception was Jack, who thought A.J. Hinch did a good job with the Astros, and was not as impressed with Cora, who ended up coming in third behind the two underdogs. Kevin Cash won, as his unique bullpen management and quirky decision-making skills helped a Rays team lacking in talent to win 90 games.

 

Images Attributed to:
Associated Press
Getty Images
USA Today

Jim Haley: Good Will Utley

-The K Zone-

November 3rd 2018

Jim Haley

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Mike Duffy: What were some of your favorite parts about the Rays Organization?

Jim Haley: Some of my favorite parts about the Rays organization are their willingness to help players reach their full potential.


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Mike Duffy: What are some of your favorite memories playing at Penn State?

Jim Haley: Some of my favorite memories playing at Penn State revolve mostly around my teammates, obviously! We had a blast away on and off the field but I think road trips were some of my favorite memories from my Penn State days.


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

Jim Haley: All of my life, I had that childhood dream of playing in the Big Leagues. It wasn’t until high school that I realized that I actually had a chance to pursue that dream.


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Mike Duffy: What team were you the biggest fan of growing up?

Jim Haley: Phillies, no doubt about it!


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player growing up?

Jim Haley: I grew up a huge Philly sports fan so I idolized Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins growing. I loved the way Chase played (still plays) the game and I always kept that with me throughout my playing career.


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Mike Duffy: You are in the midst of a breakout year, what do you attribute this to?

Jim Haley: I made a lot of adjustments to my swing in the offseason so I think that’s the biggest thing that helped me. Being comfortable with my swing played a huge part. Also, I played a lot of positions this year which were new to me but I really embraced it and I think that also helped to spur the year I had.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Jim Haley: Wrigley!


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

Jim Haley: One thing that I learned from my coaching staff while at Penn State was to always have a routine to help you to “check back in” to the game when you felt you were hitting a rough patch and I still have my routine to this day. Baseball is a tough game but the beauty of it is if you go 0-3 one day, you have a chance to go 3-3 the very next day. It’s all about finding balance and not getting to high or low.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Jim Haley: Good Will Hunting.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite Tv show?

Jim Haley: I’ve watched just about every Netflix series you can think of! Love The Office though!


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite Musician and what’s your favorite song?

Jim Haley: I am a huge fan is music so it’s hard for me to pick one song/artist. I listen to all types from country to rap to oldies and anything in between!


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Jim Haley: Anything outdoors and love trying new things. I’m always trying to expand my view and experience as many different things as I can.


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For more Interviews Click Here

For more updates on articles follow us on Instagram @thekzonenews

Comment below on how we can improve the articles!

Thanks for reading!


Special Thanks to Mary Kate & Kirstin & Rosie for the introduction to Jim Haley


 

KAP: The Bold Story of Gabriel Kapler

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Written by: Mike Duffy


Cover Art by Paine Proffitthttp://www.paineproffitt.com
Exclusive Interviews with
Chase De Jong, Greg Venger, John Stolnis, & Chase Kaper

Last offseason, one of the biggest surprises was the hire of Gabe Kapler to be the new manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a move on the bolder side, for general manager Matt Klentak, who was given the green light to make his first managerial hire. Kapler was the runner-up for the Dodger gig two seasons before in 2016, having been their Director of Player development.

Kapler has a more bold and analytical approach to the game. This, on top of a few more characteristics, made him a unique choice for a Phillies organization that is familiar to more of a traditional approach to baseball. He has had a rollercoaster first year as manager, and a very interesting journey into baseball which I was just excited to find more about.


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August 7: Nick Williams celebrates with manager Gabe Kapler after homering in the third inning. Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

So one Thursday during lunch I swung by the main office at my school (Cleveland High School) to speak to the Athletic Director, Greg Venger. He noticed that I had a Phillies shirt on and mentioned that he had gone to Taft High School with Gabe Kapler. In ‘93 while Greg was the JV shortstop his sophomore year, Kapler was the varsity shortstop. During the playoffs Greg was brought up to Varsity, allowing for some memorable moments for Greg, where he was able to watch and model after someone who was soon to become a major leaguer.


“Gabe was a great teammate great guy. Well liked by everybody very popular in high school,” said Greg. “He was a gym rat always working hard to stay in shape. His group friends were a nice good circle of friends, they are lawyers or stockbrokers, they’re all doing successful so yeah you know they all figured out their niche in life.” 


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Photo: 1993 Taft Yearbook / Gabriel Kapler (left) in his Senior year.                                    (photo found by Mike Duffy)

Greg was telling me about how “people liked to be around him,” and the positive bolt of energy people would get when he walked into a room. He also recalled some memories from their times on the field: 

“We won the game against Kennedy High School, but ended playing in the semifinals against Chatsworth and we got blown out like 17 to 1. His leadership with that group of guys pretty special group he had his senior year. Gabe was definitely the catalyst to my team. ” 

Also, we talked about how currently while managing he stresses the idea of drawing a lot of walks and telling them to take pitches. I asked Greg if Gabe took a lot of pitches, and Greg laughed and said: 

“He was an aggressive guy. He never saw more than a few pitches when he was hitting. He was always up there to hit he did not wanna walk, he had a lot of pop. Back in the day, Taft high school fence in left field was like 330ft and like 408ft to straightaway center. Now they have a different fence up there. If Gabe played there right now, he would’ve broke the state record for home run, guaranteed.”


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After graduating from Taft High School he attended a Division 1 school, Cal State Fullerton. It didn’t work out there for Gabe, so he ended up going back to Moorpark College. He got noticed there and he got drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 57th round in the 1995 Draft.

“He just peaked at the right time,” Venger said. “And that was the big thing.”


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Gabe played fifteen seasons of professional baseball and has the highest career WAR of anyone drafted in the 57th round. During the twelve seasons in the MLB, he played for the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Tampa Bay Rays in. In 2004 he won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox.


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After winning the World Series with Boston, he went to Japan to play some baseball where he ruptured his Achilles. The Red Sox organization offered him his first and only managerial job before coming to the Phillies with the Sox Low-A team, the Greenville Drive.  The team had a record of 58 – 81 in his two seasons with them before returning to playing baseball for three more years.


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Gabe Kapler accepting the job with the Greenville Drive

While he was working hard on his career, he always made time for his two sons. I spoke with his son Chase Kapler. Here’s what Chase had to say about his father:

“I have to credit him for how independent and self-starting I am, from a very young age he trusted me to make my own decisions and face my own consequences for those decisions. He also never pressured me to be anybody that he wanted me to be. He was very supportive of what I wanted and what I needed.” 


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Gabe Kapler (right) with his two sons Chase (center) and Dane (left).

When officially hanging up his glove he dabbled around in different forms of media. In 2013 he was an analyst for Fox Sports 1. Then using his love for “the importance of training outdoors and clean eating. To that end, he took to sharing information in 2013 and started a health and well-being blog at Kaplifestyle.com. ” 


He used his knowledge of fitness and health to land him the job of Director of Player Development with the Los Angeles Dodgers in November of 2014. The press told two stories of how he was doing at that post, one that we see now, with all the amazing prospects that have come through that system like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Austin Barnes, and so many more. This shows that Gabe was doing something right with that system. The other narrative was one that talked about how he just came into the system and took out all the unhealthy food in all the clubhouses of the system and made them follow strict diets. We never really heard what the players thought of that, but obviously Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman liked what he was doing and made him a frontrunner for the manager position. Gabe lost it to Dave Roberts in the end.


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Gabe Kapler, seen here during spring training in 2015 with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Photo credit: Jon SooHoo | LA Dodgers

I was curious to hear what some of the players thought about Gabe when he was Director of Player development. I followed up with, Major League pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Chase De Jong, who I originally interviewed back in 2017.

De Jong, who was originally a Dodger prospect, said he “enjoyed being under his leadership. Our minor league organization thrived under it.” 

I asked him if he mentioned any of his goals for his future in baseball, and if he was preaching about being bold in Los Angeles like he is now doing in Philadelphia:

“Yes Gabe was always clear about being bold.  We all knew that he had aspirations to be a major league manager. He’s a leader in whatever he does. He was very passionate about what he believed in he always entertained other points of view and I think that’s an incredible quality to have. Gabe I believe desires knowledge and wisdom above everything else. He’s a learner.” 


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This passion of learning and determination to be as knowledgeable about every player and the game is what caught the eye of GM Matt Klentak. Before the 2018 season, Kapler was signed to a 3 year managerial deal.


“They needed a new culture,” suggest Greg Venger on why Klentak hired Kapler. “But some of the old school Phillies fans might not like that so much. I think that his young energy and his intensity is what that organization needed. It’s maybe for some of them an acquired taste. But as a coach winning cures everything. You win everyone’s gonna love you.”  


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AP Images

For Kapler, his first week was really rough. He pulled Aaron Nola early on Opening Day, and then the bullpen blew the game that was filled with miscommunications. He was also greeted with boos at the home opener. During all of this, Kapler stayed positive and said they would definitely go to the playoffs.  Most people thought he was on something but Greg Venger suggested that “there is a little bit of arrogance about him, because he is confident. So the players, they like the confidence, they relate to that because that’s how the players are too.”


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Sept. 25: The skipper! Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

I reached out to Writer & Podcaster for SB Nation’s The Good Phight, John Stolnis, where he focuses on covering the current Phillies. He falls in the middle on the Kapler spectrum like most other writers but I challenged him to put away the criticism and just focus on the positives of his rookie season. 

“I think my favorite thing about Kapler this year was how he was at least willing to try things that were different. I didn’t agree with all of what he did, and late in the season I thought he tried to do too much. But I liked that he wasn’t afraid, and I think he has shown a willingness to take criticism and to learn,” Stolnis said.

Greg Venger agreed with Stolnis and had this to say about Gabe’s first year of managing:

“I’m sure he would be the first to tell you the game part he’s still learning it. The game is different from it used to be. And it’s evolved. So when he came up as a player it was more of a small ball steal bases and now it’s more of strikeouts and guys hitting home runs.”  – Greg Venger


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April 5: The Phillies line the base path for pre-game festivities at the Phillies Home Opener. Philadelphia Phillies

After that first rough week, the Phillies turned it all around. They were in first place for over a month. At one point they even were 63- 48! It looked like Kapler would win Manager of the Year. The Phillies were in first place, had a really good division lead, and the Nationals were falling off a cliff.  Gabe’s son, Chase said his favorite moments of this successful part of the season were “either the Maikel Franco walk off or Nola out-dueling Scherzer twice.”


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July 31: Maikel Franco returns to the dugout after scoring in the fourth inning. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

But then the bad skid happened, the really bad skid. The Phillies went 8-20 for the rest of the season in September and they were not able to get that postseason chance they were hoping for.  The pitching staff looked tired and bats were not coming alive.


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August 19: The Phillies line up for the national anthem before the MLB Little League Classic game. Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos

Although the Phillies finished 2 wins below .500, they showed improvement from the year before. The ride has just begun for Gabe Kapler and he is ready to get back out there next season with something to prove to the city of brotherly love. Gabe wants to make sure he can be the manager of the next Phillies World Series team rather than finding himself on the hot seat.


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Thank you Paine Proffitt, Chase De Jong, Greg Venger, John Stolnis, & Chase Kapler, and everyone else who helped out on this article.


Additional Sources:

https://www.phillymag.com/news/2018/03/24/gabe-kapler-phillies-manager/

https://theathletic.com/141869/2017/10/30/phillies-bold-pick-of-gabe-kapler-as-manager-shows-clubs-focus-on-analytics/

https://www.phillyvoice.com/who-gabe-kapler-dozen-fun-facts-about-new-phillies-manager/

http://www2.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/gabe-kapler-phillies-moorpark-college-cal-state-fullerton-detroit-tigers-fitness-journey-20180525.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabe_Kapler


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2018 Photo Review #3 – What an awesome display of sportsmanship! Both the Phillies and Mets lined up for handshakes after the 2018 MLB Little League Classic. Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos.            “If you get those guys to believe that they can do it. Then they can do it, and they’re young and they’re talented and they’re going to go through their ups and downs during a 162 games and you’re going to have your slumps you’re going to go through your hot streak. Everything is fantastic at that time. But when things aren’t going well. It’s about how  you respond to that.”           – Greg Venger

 

Zach Pop: Popping Bottles

-The K Zone-

October 7th 2018

Zach Pop

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Mike Duffy:  Growing up in Canada, was Brampton a hockey or baseball town?

Zach Pop: Brampton was definitely a hockey town.


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Mike Duffy:  What are most looking forward to with the Orioles Organization after being traded from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado Trade?

Zach Pop: Looking forward to the opportunity this presents for my career.


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Mike Duffy:  What has been your favorite team to play for so far like Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Great Lakes Loons, or your new team the Bowie Baysox?

Zach Pop:I my favorite team this year would be the quakes because of the culture that we created there. Along with the winnings atmosphere and the teammates and friends I had there.


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Mike Duffy:  What are some of your favorite memories as apart of the Dodgers organization?

Zach Pop: One of my favorite memories was being able to come back from 7 games back, win the first half and pop bottles.  Being able to experience something new with the quakes was really a great experience.


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

Zach Pop: I’ve always wanted to play professional baseball I think it was just a matter of getting my education and maturing as a person and player.


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Mike Duffy:  Who was your favorite player growing up?

Zach Pop: My favorite player growing up was the Mariano Rivera.


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Mike Duffy:  What team were you the biggest fan of growing up?

Zach Pop: I was actually a Yankees fan growing up because of Rivera.


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Mike Duffy:  What is your favorite movie?

Zach Pop: I like the other guys.


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Mike Duffy:  What is your favorite Tv show?

Zach Pop: Suits.


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Mike Duffy:  What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Zach Pop: I like playing golf, swimming, going to the cottage, relaxing, sharing a couple drinks with some friends, playing video games, and traveling.


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Joey Gallo: An Interesting Case

By: Jack Kennedy

Ever since the analytical era of baseball began, the way we view baseball stats has significantly evolved. Emphasis has been continually taken away from standard stats such as batting average and has been redistributed to the increasingly important on-base percentage. This shift has occurred for obvious reasons: it doesn’t matter if someone gets on base via lining one into right, taking 4 pitches outside the zone, or just taking one hard in the ribs. The end result is the same: runner on first. Hits only become valuable when they involve the baseball going over the wall.

Thus, we enter the current era of true outcome hitters. These hitters ignore the fielders playing. They don’t care because they don’t plan on giving them a chance to get the ball, anyway. A true outcome hitter is someone who specializes in one of three “true outcomes:” walks, strikeouts, and home runs. These sort of players are becoming more and more valuable in the eyes of managers as they shift towards acquiring players that ignore the defense and go toe to toe with the pitcher and the pitcher alone. There is no player in baseball who emulates this thought process than Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo.

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Joey Gallo has a decent on-base percentage of roughly .316, right around league average. Unfortunately for Gallo, his batting average is, to put it kindly, below league average. As of right now, he is putting the ball in play 21% of the time he goes up to bat, making his batting average of .210. Gallo has walked 70 times this year so far and is on pace to beat his career high of 75, which he set in last year’s season. Gallo has already beaten his career best in hits at 99 compared to the 94 he put up last year. This means that of all the times Gallo gets on base, 41.4% of them are walks. On top of this, the ones he does happen to hit in play are usually home runs, and I’m not exaggerating. As of now, Gallo has clubbed 37 dingers, meaning that just over 37% of all his base hits are home runs. In addition, he has 24 doubles and 1 triple. Adding those numbers up, we find that he has 62 base hits that are not singles. Subtracting that from his total of 99, we see that the amount of singles he hits is… 37. This means he has the same amount of home runs as he does singles this year. So we’ve established that Gallo is very good at walking and hitting home runs, now let’s look at his strikeout numbers. Gallo is third in the MLB at 195 strikeouts, only 6 behind the leader, Yoan Moncada at 201. But this number is a little skewed as Yoan has had 596 plate appearances as opposed to Gallo’s 542. Moncada has had 54 more plate appearances, and therefore more strikeout opportunities than Gallo. If Gallo had the same amount of plate appearances as Moncada he would total a whopping 215 strikeouts. He is a true outcomes player who hits dingers, walks, and if he doesn’t do either of those things, he strikes out, so you don’t need to worry about the double play Gallo has only grounded into a double play 3 times in the last 2 seasons.

Joey Gallo is not a typical new age hitter, however. As I said, he does walk a lot, but still doesn’t have the huge on-base percentage that most managers look for. He’s an even newer age of thinking, not about getting on base, but about only hitting home runs. Joey Gallo actually isn’t supposed to get on base at all. After a game with the Astros earlier this year in which Bregman was playing all the way in left field and no one occupied the wrong side of the infield as Gallo came to bat, we were all thinking the same thing: “Just bunt it!” But he didn’t, and there’s a reason for this. A bunt moves Gallo one base, a home run, however, moves Gallo four. The Rangers are not exactly Murderers Row this year,  as they have a lot of guys that struggle at the plate, and if Gallo was to get on first every time he batted he might not be able to reach home because of the lack of support behind him. Gallo, instead of waiting to be knocked in, decided to knock himself in. This strategy seems to make a lot of sense, but how effective is it? We could tell how good of a player Joey Gallo is if only there was a way to isolate Gallo from the rest of his team so we can see how successful he is as in individual… Oh wait, we can.

Using the hitting statistics I outlined earlier, I was able to simulate every single at-bat for Joey Gallo as if every player on the team was Big Number 13. Every plate appearance was a set of random probability generators that would first determine if he would get on base in that plate appearance. If it was determined that Gallo got on base, I would then randomly generate the outcome of Gallo getting a base hit or taking the free pass to first. Finally, if the probability generator decided that Gallo was getting a knock, I would use the generator to determine what kind of hit he got. I didn’t need to worry about double plays because as I said, Gallo doesn’t hit into double plays. To determine the opponents score for every game was easy: I simply took the score that the Rangers’ actual opponent put up, and continued to do this for the first 35 games of the season.

SO HOW DID GALLO DO?

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Gallo started off incredibly strong. He scored 10 runs in his first game with 2 grand slams. Cole Hamels got the win easily for the Texas Gallos as they defeated the Astros 10-4. The next game was completed in a similar fashion, as Gallo has another grand slam and they clubbed in 12 runs, again defeating the Astros in a 12-1 slugfest. The following game was an interesting one as well, as the Gallos put up a very respectable 7 runs, but the returning World Series champions were able to notch 9 themselves. This went back and forth as I simulated every single game, and in the end, the Texas Gallos finished with a record of 17-18, just under .500. If you extrapolate this, the Texas Gallos would finish with a 79-83, having about 8 more wins than the Rangers are on pace to have this year. This means that as bad as Gallo’s .210 batting average seems, he is actually an exceedingly effective batter. And remember, this record is simulated with the Rangers’ rotation, that throughout their first 30 games had a whopping ERA of 5.7. If Gallo substituted every spot in the lineup on a team with a better rotation, it can be speculated that he would have an even better season and could possibly finish well over .500.

While when I was simulating the games there were many instances that Gallo would get out or walk with the bases loaded, which didn’t produce many runs, he hit more than enough home runs to make up for it. This high octane offense was done purely with someone who could hit with power. His batting average was awful, and his OBP was nothing impressive either, however, Gallo turned into a very productive hitter because while he wasn’t always getting on base, he was constantly putting up a lot of total bases for his team.
Could this mean that baseball will go through another statistical reform where managers look for players who can take more than first? Was Joey Gallo just a fluke? Who knows, but time will tell if Joey Gallo’s strategy of just swinging for the fences every pitch will become a trend. After all, you can only shift players so far and unfortunately can’t put them in bleachers which is where Gallo is aiming. For now, we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Luis Perez: Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dream

-The K Zone-

September 11th 2018

Luis Perez

Interview by Mike Duffy


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This Article has been translated from Spanish to English. Original Version at the bottom.


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

Luis Perez: My motto when I’m going through a bad time, Always hold things calmly. I always say that if God wanted it that way, that’s why it’s good.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite book?

Luis Perez: My favorite book is: Do not let anyone steal your dream (author DEXTER .R YAGER SR.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite movie?

Luis Perez: My favorite movie: It’s The scary movie 4.


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite TV series?

Luis Perez: My favorite series: It’s The paper house.


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Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite musician and what is your favorite song?

Luis Perez: My favorite musician: it’s José José and my favorite music (we’ll give ourselves time).


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Luis Perez: My favorite hobby: share with my family and my friends.


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

Luis Perez: I knew I wanted to play professional baseball: when I saw the ones who filmed in my neighborhood and formed their home with their mother.


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite player while you grew up?

Luis Perez: My favorite player: it was (Manny Ramirez) why he was a hitter back then.


Manny_Ramirez.jpg-12186.jpgMike Duffy: What team were you the biggest follower of your growth?

Luis Perez: The team that was most fanatical: (Boston).


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Luis Perez: My favorite stadium: it is the one of the (ORIOLES).


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Mike Duffy: What is your favorite baseball memory?

Luis Perez: And my favorite moments: when I started watching a game winning by 1 or 2 I got 0. Or that they put me to pitcher with complete base without leaving and I took the three.


Mike Duffy: What was it like to play in the Dominican Republic? What are some of your favorite moments there?

Luis Perez: Playing in the Dominican Republic: for me it was something that motivated me to work harder, because I said I did not want it to happen to me as someone who does not work hard to give everything they do not go through to play in the summer league.


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Mike Duffy: ¿Tienes un lema o algo que hacer para sacarte de un mal momento?

Luis Pérez: Mi lema cuando estoy pasando por un mal momento, siempre sostengo las cosas con calma. Siempre digo que si Dios lo quería así, es por eso que es bueno.

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu libro favorito?

Luis Pérez: Mi libro favorito es: No dejes que nadie te robe tu sueño (autor DEXTER .R YAGER SR.

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu película favorita?

Luis Pérez: Mi película favorita: Es la película de miedo 4.

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu serie de televisión favorita?

Luis Pérez: Mi serie favorita: Es la casa de papel.

Mike Duffy: ¿Quién es tu músico favorito y cuál es tu canción favorita?

Luis Pérez: Mi músico favorito: es José José y mi música favorita (nos daremos tiempo).

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu pasatiempo favorito además del béisbol?

Luis Pérez: Mi pasatiempo favorito: compartir con mi familia y mis amigos.

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuándo sabías que querías jugar al béisbol profesional?

Luis Pérez: Sabía que quería jugar béisbol profesional: cuando vi a los que filmaron en mi barrio y formaron su hogar con su madre.

Mike Duffy: ¿Quién era tu jugador favorito mientras crecías?

Luis Pérez: Mi jugador favorito: fue (Manny Ramírez) por qué fue un bateador en ese entonces.

Mike Duffy: ¿En qué equipo fuiste el mayor seguidor de tu crecimiento?

Luis Pérez: El equipo que fue más fanático: (Boston).

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu estadio favorito?

Luis Pérez: Mi estadio favorito: es el de los (ORIOLES).

Mike Duffy: ¿Cuál es tu memoria de béisbol favorita?

Luis Pérez: Y mis momentos favoritos: cuando comencé a ver un juego ganando por 1 o 2 obtuve 0. O que me pusieron al lanzador con base completa sin salir y tomé los tres.

Mike Duffy: ¿Cómo fue jugar en República Dominicana? ¿Cuáles son algunos de tus momentos favoritos allí?

Luis Pérez: Jugar en la República Dominicana: para mí fue algo que me motivó a trabajar más duro, porque dije que no quería que me pasara a mí como alguien que no trabaja duro para dar todo lo que no tienen para jugar en la liga de verano.