The Arizona Diamondbacks selected southpaw Ryan Robowski in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Robowski came to the Detroit Tigers along with right-hander Kevin Eichhorn when the Tigers shipped Armando Galarraga to the D-Backs in January of 2011.
Last season, the 23-year old reliever took a step forward, accumulating a 3.07 ERA over 55 2/3 innings between Advanced-A Lakeland, AA-Erie and AAA-Toledo.
Over the weekend, Robowski was kind enough to check in with us and participate in a Q&A.
MCB: Who has had the biggest influence on your baseball career?
Ryan Robowski: I would definitely say my mom and dad because they each played such a big role in my life. My parents got separated when I was really young so my mom played a big part in playing catch and hitting me fly balls as much as my dad would. The biggest thing she did was even when I would have a bad game she would always pick me up and get me to move on to the next game. My dad however never let me get complacent by no matter how good of a game I had he would never let my mom or grandmother for that matter make my head big. He always made me want to strive for getting better every time out. They have shaped the way I play the game and how I try to always find something to get better at.
MCB: Have you had any favorite coaches or mentors along the way?
RR: I have had the chance to have some great coaches throughout my baseball career. I would say Kevin Green who was my AAU coach throughout high school not only taught me a lot about the game but also taught me how to be a man as well. He played a big part in showing me Ohio Dominican University where he played baseball at. That was my first college visit in fact and I don’t think I ever looked back from there. Paul Page the baseball coach at Ohio Dominican definitely is a favorite coach and mentor of mine who I still go to for advice on things. He has helped me grow from being a high school pitcher into being someone who was able to get drafted. I can’t thank these two coaches enough for what they did for me.
MCB: You’ve played baseball in several different leagues in many different cities and states. What has been your favorite city to play in and why?
RR: I have had the blessing of playing in a bunch of different leagues and numerous cities in the short amount of time I’ve played professionally. I think Toledo had the best fans by far even though I had only about seven days with them but every night seemed like a sell out. The best city I have played in would probably be Missoula Montana because it was such a great little college town and they really loved the team there. We always had a great crowd and there was always something to do there, I really enjoyed my time there.
MCB: Who were some of your favorite baseball players growing up?
RR: My favorite player hands down growing up was Ken Griffey Jr. I used to make my swing look like his,I collected his baseball cards, video game, and pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I also liked Randy Johnson too who played with him was probably my favorite pitcher because of how intimidating he was. I always tried to imitate that the most when I was growing up.
MCB: Did you model your game after any of your favorite pitchers?
RR: I never really modeled my pitching after anyone professionally. I think I just took what my dad would teach me and apply that with all the coaching I received as a kid. Since then it pretty much has developed into what it is but now I will watch videos of pitchers like Justin Verlander, Brian Wilson, and Zack Greinke to try and see what techniques they use to maybe help improve something I do. I love watching video to help improve things and the Tigers have done a good job of giving us the resources to do that.
MCB: What have you been up to this off-season?
RR: This off season was a bit of a challenge for me because after two and a half years off from school I decided to go back and try to start finishing my last two semesters. I ended up getting the best GPA I have ever gotten so that definitely made my girlfriend and family happy. I have also been working out and running trying to get in the best shape I can be for Spring Training. I started throwing in December and am currently getting my arm ready as well.
MCB: Spring Training is around the corner. For those of us who don’t know, take us through the steps you’ll take to get your arm ready for the upcoming season.
RR: For me it starts 2-3 weeks after the season ends when I’ll start lifting and running to get stronger and keep in shape. I also do a lot of arm exercises to strengthen my shoulder. This year I started throwing in December to give myself enough time to recover from the season but also enough time to work back into throwing slowly to not rush anything. I try to get a lot of long toss in before Spring Training so I don’t have to try and play catch up while I’m there. I get in a fair amount of bullpens while I’m home as well. For me I try to come into Spring Training already feeling like I have my pitches where I want and control where I want. For me its just about trying to get my velocity back.
MCB: Can you give us a brief scouting report. What’s in your repertoire?
RR: I mostly throw a 2-seam fastball its the one I feel most comfortable with. I do use a 4-seam but very sparingly. My main breaking ball is a curveball but its more like a slurve and I use that a lot against lefties. I also have been trying to pick up a slider and I think that is something nice to add because it can give hitter something else to worry about. I also have a circle change up which I throw a lot differently than a lot of other people.
MCB: What do you think that you need to work on the most in order to take that next step?
RR: I think consistency is the biggest thing for me. Being able to throw that quality strike is so huge as you move up and I feel that if I can make my pitch more times than not I’ll come out on top. I feel like that’s what everybody is striving for because everyone is here because they have good stuff there is no doubt about that but can you put that stuff in the right spot is the key. So this off season I have really been working on mechanics and trying to repeat my delivery.
MCB: What are some of the things away from the game that you like to do for fun?
RR: Well I live with my girl friend in New Albany Ohio and being able to see her as well as our dog is something I really look forward to. I also play a lot of video games probably more than I should but they always seem to keep me hooked. Golf is also a big passion of mine and while we were in Lakeland we tried to get as many round of golf in as we could because normally when the season is over the weather starts to change and you don’t get many opportunities to get out. I also like going on vacation with my family because I don’t get to see them as much as I wish I could.
MCB: Do you follow any professional sports?
RR: I love sports in general and I follow almost every sport. Being from Pittsburgh I love the Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. I wasn’t to thrilled with how the playoffs ended up this year but I guess I’ll have to look forward to next year. I am a huge hockey fan too. I try to watch as many Penguins games as I can till I have to leave because I don’t get to see too many games until the playoffs when they are on national TV. As for baseball I never really had a favorite team growing up I mainly liked whatever team Ken Griffey Jr was on but now I just love watching good baseball no matter who plays.
MCB: What are five songs or albums that you’re currently listening to on your iPod?
RR: Well my favorite musician of all time is Tom Delonge who is the lead singer of Blink 182, Angels and Airwaves, and Boxcar Racer. So mostly my iPod consists of listening to all the songs of his that I own but some of the baseball players at Ohio Dominican got me to listen to a rapper from Cleveland by the name of MGK who is pretty good. I also have gotten back into Metallica which I loved as a kid as well as a band called Anberlin. I recently got to live out a dream of mine by taking my girl friend and I to see Blink 182 in concert in Pittsburgh. It was everything I thought it would be and more I really recommend that if you like rock music to go see them in concert.
A special thanks to Tigers prospect Ryan Robowski for taking the time out of his day to answer our questions. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @RyanRobowski.