Thursday, January 17, 2008
Nearly two months ago, I emailed Twins prospect Matthew Williams about doing an interview. Although I prefer to do my interviews by phone or in person, he is one of few professional ball players who live in Australia during the off season giving us a narrow window to do it because of the time change. But, even with his off season work outs and games, he set some time aside to do an interview for me, and I really appreciate it. Williams is currently in Class-A, but is just 20. In 18 games with the Snappers, he went 1-1 with a 2.64 ERA and 17 K. He is someone to keep an eye on as he climbs up the Twins system, and I just want to thank him again for doing this for me.
ELI: How long have you played baseball?
MATT: I started playing tee-ball when I was 4 years old, and began playing baseball when I was 9 years old.
ELI: You were signed in 2004, can you take me through the process of your signing?
MATT: I signed as a non-drafted free agent in February 2004. I was playing in a National Tournament and was made an offer by the Twins. I was unaware of the offer as my agent and parents had decided to let me concentrate on baseball and inform me at the conclusion of the tournament.
ELI: Who is the most exciting player to watch on the team?
MATT: The most exciting player on the team would have to be Joe Benson. He has amazing speed, both in the outfield and on the basepaths, and can turn the game in an instant.
ELI: How did Steve Mintz help your game this year?
MATT: Steve Mintz was my coach in my first year of professional baseball in the GCL, so he understood my mechanics and how I pitch. Steve suggested I add a sinker to my repertoire in order to induce more ground balls, and helped tremendously in teaching how to throw in effectively. His pitching philosophy is to attack the hitters, which has helped me throw more strikes and challenge the hitters.
ELI: You live in Australia in the off season. When will you come back to the states to prepare for next season?
MATT: The past few years I have stayed in Australia until the week before Spring Training in March. As it is summer in Australia, most of my work for the upcoming season is done at home, with the final week in Ft Myers trying to overcome jet lag and adjust to the weather. I usually start off season workouts at the beginning of October and begin work on the field in November. After the holidays I try and get around 15-20 innings in games so I am ready for Spring Training.
ELI: Will you train with other Australian players to get ready for next season?
MATT: I train with several of the Australian based professionals, from both the Twins and other organizations. Everyone is trying to get ready for the upcoming season, and is looking to get as much practice in as they can, so its quite easy to find someone to work out with.
ELI: Do you have a favorite player?
MATT: Favorite player would have to be Roger Clemens, the way that he goes after hitters and still manages to dominate after so many years in the Majors.
ELI: What do you plan to work on this off season?
MATT: My main goals for the offseason are adding velocity, improving changeup and refining mechanics to be more efficient.
ELI: What would you say is your go-to pitch?
MATT: My go-to pitch has always been my fastball, I like to challenge the hitter. If I need to get a pitch over, I am most comfortable throwing the fastball.
ELI: If you could strike out one major leaguer today, who would it be?
MATT: If I had the chance to strike out one Major League hitter, I would choose Alex Rodriguez. Apart from the ridiculous numbers he put together this year, he is a future Hall of Famer. It would be great one day to be able to say that I struck him out.