Twins 101 recently interviewed starting pitcher Andrew Albers about his journey to the major leagues. Albers went 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA for the Minnesota Twins in his major league debut last season, and got fans excited by posting a remarkable 18.1 shutout innings in his first several starts. Albers reflected on how he got to this point in part one of this exclusive interview.
Q: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Andrew Albers: Man, great question… When I was growing up we had quite a few of them. Randy Johnson was big. Guys like Jimmy Key and Dave Stieb with the Blue Jays were big, Tom Glavine with the Braves was somebody I looked up to. I had fun watching a lot of those guys pitch.
Albers was drafted in the 12th round of the draft by the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school, but declined to sign with them in favor of attending the University of Kentucky. After finishing up at Kentucky, Albers was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 draft by the San Diego Padres. Albers’ career would be altered in 2009, when he underwent Tommy John Surgery after making only five appearances in the Padres’ system.
Q: You had to undergo Tommy John Surgery in 2009. How did that change the path of your career?
Albers: Obviously it puts a crink in the plans. It’s something you never see yourself going through. It was certainly a step backwards. After rehabbing so long and trying to get healthy, you realize it was one of those things you don’t foresee. At the same time, it was an experience and something I needed to go through and really helped me along the way when I was getting my game back later on.
Albers was released by the Padres following the 2009 season. After his rehab was completed, Albers signed with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am Baseball Association for the 2010 season.
Q: What was it like to play independent league ball in Canada for the 2010 season?
Albers: I actually really enjoyed that summer. It was a lot of fun with the Quebec Capitales. They were a great organization, really treated me well and I really enjoyed the summer. We had a pretty good team, we ended up winning the championship and anytime you win a championship it ends up making the season that much more special. I enjoyed my time there. It was a good league, a lot of good ballplayers there, and it was a great stepping stone for me to get back into the game and to see how my elbow would respond and things like that. I really enjoyed it. Nothing but a positive experience from there.
Albers went 3-0 with 17 saves and a 1.40 ERA for the Capitales in 2010. After he completed his season, Albers resumed his quest to play in Major League Baseball.
Q: How did you end up signing with the Minnesota Twins?
Albers: It was a little bit of an interesting deal. I had some open tryouts lined up the next season in Arizona, but none of those worked out. I had gotten a hold of my college coach down in Lexington, Kentucky and he was able to make some phone calls for me. He got a couple of area scouts for the Twins in to see me throw. They kind of liked what they saw, so we started talking. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get anything done right away, but they told me to go to my open tryout, nothing came about. I flew back to Arizona, went to my tryouts, and nothing came of it so I got a hold of the Twins again. They talked about flying me down to Fort Myers a couple of days later. I came back with a counter offer of how about I just drive, that way I can do whatever you guys need to and if you guys like me enough you can give me an invite to spring training, and if not don’t worry about it, I’ll go home and that will be that. I was able to convince them that I was worth taking a chance on and the rest is history.
Albers signed with the Twins in the spring of 2011 and worked his way up through their minor league system. While there, he has been blogging about his experiences.
Q: When did you decide to start writing your blog?
Albers: That was something I started last year. I haven’t done a very good job of it recently, its been a little while with the blog entry posts. It was one of those things where yeah, it was nice to do for a little bit and its something I might continue to do this season as things go on. We’ll see what happens, but it was one of those things where I kind of wanted to take the offseason off and unfortunately I just wasn’t quite able to get the entries in once I got moved up. I was just trying to stay focused and make sure I did things right at that level.
Q: Which coach or player had the biggest impact on you while you were in the Twins’ minor league system?
Albers: In the Twins system it’s tough. I’ve been moved pretty quickly through the system, its one of those things where I haven’t gotten to spend a lot of time with all the coaches. Certainly my college coach had a tremendous impact on me when I was going to school at the University of Kentucky, he was outstanding. With the Twins, like I’ve said, it’s been pretty quick. Its one of those things where I haven’t gotten to spend an extended period of time with really any of them. They’ve all been great, they’ve given me little tidbits of advice here and there, but I can’t say there’s anyone really in particular that’s changed the path of my career in a big way.
Check back in with Twins 101 for more of this exclusive interview with Andrew Albers!
If you would like to follow Andrew Albers’ exploits this season, be sure to check out his blog at: www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com/author/andrewalbers/
Interview conducted and article written by Mike Phillips.
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