The Minnesota Twins were pitching heavy in the 2009 Draft, and after selecting pitchers in the first round, compensation round, and second round, the team continued the trend in the third round when they selected right handed pitcher Ben Tootle from Jacksonville State University.
Tootle went a combined 19-9 in his career at Jacksonville State, and was highly regarded by many teams. Named as one of the best prospects in the Cape Cod League, Tootle throws a mid-90s fastball that has touched 99 MPH according to reports.
After signing with the organization quickly, Tootle headed to play for the Elizabethton Twins. Thus far, Tootle has appeared in six games and pitched 6.1 innings allowing no runs and an opponents batting average of just .190.
Ben took some time to answer a few questions for an interview.
Voice From Twins Territory: Growing up, what was your favorite team, and who were a few of your favorite players?
Ben Tootle:†My favorite team is the Atlanta Braves, and my favorite player has always been John Smoltz.
VFTT: You were ranked by some as the 4th best prospect in the Cape Cod League. What does that mean to you?
BT:†Being ranked is neat, but it really didn’t mean too much to me because it’s basically just someone’s opinion or projection. I try not to think about what others think I am or could be, I just like to play.
VFTT: Had you talked with scouts, and were you expecting to be selected when you were?
BT:†I talked with scouts the entire year, but they told me many different things. The draft is so crazy that it’s hard to tell when you will actually go.†
VFTT: When were you when you were drafted by the Minnesota Twins, how did you find out, and what was the feeling like?
BT:†I was at my apartment in Jacksonville, AL with my parents. It was basically a big relief that it was over and I’d be taking the next step in my career.
VFTT: Going from being selected, to working on getting signed, to getting started in games, what is the entire process like?
BT:†The drafting and signing process isn’t something I enjoyed, honestly. I’m happiest when I’m actually on the field. The process†in between†just gets me to that point and you have to do it.
VFTT: What have been your initial impressions of professional ball since your debut?
BT:†My initial impression was that there is such a variety of cultures and different people from different parts of the world who are talented and come together to play on one team.
VFTT: What is your goal for the rest of the season at Elizabethton, and what are you looking to do in the off-season?
BT:†My goal for Elizabethton is to get adjusted to pro ball life and get better. My off-season goal is to get stronger and work on my skills.
VFTT: Through little league, high school, college, and even the first games at Elizabethton, what is your greatest baseball moment?
BT:†My greatest baseball achievement I think is my summer in the Cape Cod league. All my drills, bullpens, long toss and conditioning paid off and everything came together for me to put forward a great summer for myself.
VFTT: Who is one person or a few people who helped you along the path to get into professional baseball?
BT:†My parents have supported me my entire life and were very supportive during the whole draft and signing period, so they had the biggest impact. Coach Case at Jacksonville State†definitely†helped me a lot, believing in me during my three years at Jacksonville, so he also had a huge impact in getting me to where I wanted to go.
VFTT: What do you think it would be like to make a major league debut with the Minnesota Twins?
BT:†Making a major league debut for me would be a dream come true because it’s what every player wants to achieve. I would not take it for granted and would soak up the entire experience to remember every detail.
Favorite baseball movie? Rookie of the Year
Superstitious?†I toss some dirt after my last warmup pitch every inning. I don’t know why, I just do it.†
Pre-game meal? Don’t have one.
Do you wear a particular number?†I try to get number 13. If not, the closest number to it. When I was younger everyone said it was unlucky so I wanted it to prove them wrong.
I’d like to thank Ben for taking some time to answer these questions, and wish him the best of luck for the remainder of the season at Elizabethton.