The Detroit Tigers selected Adam Wilk in the 11th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft; out of Long Beach State University. The 24-year-old pitcher has been a fast riser in the Tigers farm system, posting impressive numbers at every stop.
Wilk isn’t blessed with a plus-fastball. The crafty southpaw has done just fine without one though. Despite being tabbed a “finesse” hurler, Wilk is striking out almost 7 batters per nine innings over his Minor League career. Over those 3 seasons, Wilk has posted a 2.62 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Perhaps his most impressive statistic though, is his minuscule 45 walks that he’s issued over 343 2/3 innings.
This spring, Wilk enters camp as a legitimate fifth starter candidate for the big league club. Last seasons cup of coffee in the Tigers ‘pen also gives him an outside shot to break camp in a relief role.
Regardless of where he ends up on Opening Day, the future is bright for Mr. Wilk.
Earlier this week, Adam was kind enough to check in with us to answer some questions.
Follow the jump for the Q&A…
MCB: Who has had the biggest influence on your baseball career?
AW: My biggest influence on my career has been my mother. She has always been there for me and always wanted me to work hard and achieve my goals.
MCB: At what point in your life do you remember deciding that professional baseball was something that you wanted to pursue?
AW: I always wanted to be a Major League Baseball Player ever since I began watching games on TV at a young age.
MCB: You played your college ball at Long Beach State University.
Exactly how much drama is in the LBC?
AW: There is no drama in LBC unless you look for it. Long Becah State University though is a great university and playing for the Dirtbags was a great experience.
MCB: On a serious note, how special was it to be a part of such a prestigious baseball program?
AW: Being a “Dirtbag” is a great honor. Only a select few can say they have been Dirtbags and for myself, being one of 41 Major League players who have come from Long Beach State is a great honor, especially considering being on the same list as players such as Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, Jason Giambi. The list goes on.
MCB: Do you think your experience as a “Dirt Bag” helped prepare you for professional ball?
AW: My experience as a “Dirtbag” helped beyond a doubt prepare me. We learn not only how to be great players at Long Beach State but also how to be men and deal with the failure of baseball.
MCB: You have issued a minuscule 48 walks over 357 innings of pro ball. Thinking back, do you remember when command and control became such an important part of your game? Was there a specific pitching coach that drove home the importance to you?
AW: Command has always been important for me because I have never had overpowering stuff and needed to make hitters get weak contact off of my pitches. Not one specific coach drove the importance of command to me but practically every one I have had.
MCB: Keeping it real; you’ve always seemed to fly under the radar. You weren’t really a bonus baby. Nobody ever tabbed you a “top prospect” and many scouts seemed to almost go out of their way to to find reasons why you wouldn’t succeed. You’ve done a helluva job making those so called “experts” eat crow. Was any of that negative energy ever extra motivation for you?
AW: I do not read or listen to what experts say about me because only I know what I can accomplish.
MCB: What was it like for you to make your major league debut last season? I mean, it had to feel awesome to wear that ridiculous backpack around. Were your friends and family able to attend?
AW: Making my major league debut last season was unbelievable. A dream come true to sum up the emotions and feelings. Unfortunately my family was unable to attend because they had work and were unsure exactly when my debut would be since I was a relief pitcher.
MCB: Early in your career you were used almost exclusively as a starter. Your role as a Tiger is likely in more of a long relief or hybrid role though. Has the uncertainty of which hat you’ll wear effected your off-season or current approach to the game at all?
AW: The roll that I have played while either in the major or minor leagues does not change my approach to the game. My approach is to throw quality pitches low in the strike zone to induce weak contact and get deep into the game.
MCB: What personal goals do you have for yourself this season?
AW: My personal goals are to be pitching with the Tigers and do whatever I can to help the team reach our ultimate goal of winning the World Series.
MCB: What’s a typical game day like for you when you’re pitching? Do you have any pre-game rituals?
AW: I get to the field early everyday, just something that I have always done. But other than that there is nothing to out of the ordinary, except of course that I tape my middle finger on my right hand before every game. Have had that superstition now for years.
MCB: Does any of that change if you move to the ‘pen?
AW: Being a starter or a reliever does not change my routine at all.
MCB: You have a strong shot at cracking the opening day roster as a starter or a reliever. In a perfect world, which would you prefer?
AW: In a perfect world, I would choose the spot that best helps the team.
MCB: You went back to school and finished your degree in Criminal Justice last off-season. How important was that for you?
AW: It was very important for me to finish my degree. I am extremely proud of myself for being a college graduate and have even begun looking for graduate courses to take in the future.
MCB: Switching gears a bit, what are some of the things away from the game that you like to do for fun?
AW: I am a very simple person and do not do a whole lot other than baseball. But I do enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, golfing, and going to the beach.
MCB: Who were some of your favorite baseball players growing up? Did you model your game after any of your favorite pitchers?
AW: My favorite players were Chuck Finley, Darin Erstad, and Jim Edmonds. I didnt model my game after any specific pitcher but I have been told many times throughout my career to watch Jamie Moyer, Tom Glavine, and Mark Buehrle in order to see how they pitch to hitters with similar stuff to myself.
MCB: Outside of baseball do you follow any sports?
AW: I generally follow mostly every sport to a small degree, but I really enjoy following college baseball, football, and basketball.
MCB: What are five songs or albums that you’re currently listening to on your iPod? Anything that might get your man card revoked?
AW: I listen to a huge variety of music. Nothing that I really keep to a specific genre.
MCB: What’s your all-time favorite baseball movie?
AW: Favorite all time movie is “For the Love of the Game”
A special thanks goes out to Adam Wilk for taking the time out of his day to answer our questions.
For more MCB interviews with Detroit Tigers Prospects, click here.