Last year the Detroit Tigers selected Brian Flynn in the 7th round of the MLB First-Year Player draft. The 21-year-old southpaw posted a 3.46 ERA, and a 7-2 record over 86 2/3 innings with the Class-A West Michigan Whitecaps last season. Last month we tabbed Flynn the Tigers 25th best prospect in our MCB Top 50 Tigers Prospects series.
Over the weekend Flynn was kind enough to check in with us and participate in a Q&A.
Q&A with Detroit Tigers Prospect Brian Flynn, after the jump…
MCB: Your High School team went 35-3 in both your junior and senior year, winning the State Championship. What was it like to be a part of something that special?
Brian Flynn: They were some of the best years of my life. The teammates, coaches, and support staff around that program are people that I consider family to this day. The tradition and expectations at Owasso have helped make me the player and competitor I am today. It’s amazing how many people around the country recognize the program these days and I am glad to be associated with what they have built there.
MCB: Did you play any other sports in High School? Seriously man, you had to play basketball!
Flynn: Haha, if I had a dollar for every time Ive heard this I’d buy a basketball team. Believe it or not my 6’8 doesn’t move quite as swiftly as Lebron James’. I gradated with 601 students so there were plenty of athletes in the school to chose from and my athletic skill set wasn’t needed. I grew a ton just about every single year. It wasn’t just one big spurt, so I was always awkward. The 3 years in college really helped me with that and its something I am still improving on to this day. That being said… The high school basketball team could have used all the help they could get.
MCB: You were drafted in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox in 2008. How hard of a decision was it to turn them down and report to college?
Flynn: It was actually a very easy decision for me. I was an extremely raw pitcher in high school. I was a thrower in every sense of the word and I committed to WSU in the first place because I knew that Brent Kemnitz could help me develop into the pitcher I wanted to be. I knew I needed to go there to develop physically and mentally. Looking back, it was 100% the right decision.
MCB: In 2010 you were red-shirted and declared academically ineligible. How hard of a pill was that to swallow? Can you give some advice to any student athletes that may be reading this?
Flynn: It was one of the lowest points in my life. I never had trouble with schoolwork; I just didn’t value it. I would always put every assignment off until the last minute, rush to get it done, or just end up not doing it. That semester it all piled up on top of me, and it was too late. I don’t think I ever swallowed that I was going to miss that season until opening day when I was in the dugout, not in uniform.
As for advice to others, take it from me first hand; life is easier if you take care of your responsibilities. You can’t imagine how much easier it is to get out of bed every day knowing you are on top of everything and on the right track. I made the honor roll after my failed semester and I am more proud of that than I am of any baseball award that I’ve received.
MCB: How did your time at Wichita State University prepare you for professional baseball?
Flynn: I think the growing up I did as a person benefited me and prepared me just as much as the baseball instruction I received. The part of my game that was elevated the most was the mental side of pitching. Just learning how to work hitters and counts along with preparing for outings and focusing on every pitch. The mental side of the game that I developed there is the groundwork to my professional career as I go forward.
MCB: Wasting no time, you signed quickly and were promoted to Class-A West Michigan. What was the biggest difference between the MidWest League and Missouri Valley Conference batters?
Flynn: People close to me have asked me this question before and the best way for me to explain it to others is that the guys who are usually your 1-2-3 batters in the order in the MVC are the bottom of the order guys in the Midwest League lineups. I think the type of game that is played in the MVC (station to station, get em on, over, and in) really prepared me well for the style of game that comes along with the wood bats.
MCB: What have you been up to this off-season?
Flynn: This off-season I am living at home with my mother and I have been enjoying the free time back home that I haven’t had since I began college. I’ve spent a lot of time with old friends in the area, made a couple of trips back up to Wichita to see my buddies, and took my mom on a nice vacation to Florida to get her away from work. As far as income goes, I give pitching lessons weekly in the Tulsa area and do some substitute teaching, which is basically babysitting. From what I hear it is similar to a lot of minor league ball players off seasons. I also got engaged to my beautiful, long time girlfriend Kacie this last month so it has been an awesome first off-season for me after a fun debut.
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.
Flynn: This off-season I wanted to focus on my whole body, not just my arm. I’m really excited about coming into my first spring training in the best shape of my life and stronger than I have ever been. I want to make a statement right out of the gate and show the Tigers that they made a good investment by drafting me. I have been dieting and lifting extremely hard and slowly working back into throwing progressions. Starting off with just playing catch, then backing it up everyday until I can get good long toss sessions in comfortably. After that I’ll do some flat ground bullpens for a couple of weeks before I get on the mound. When its time to get on the mound its all about building stamina. After I’ve done that and I’m comfortable with it, I’ll start mixing in off-speed pitches. I’ve put a big emphasis on off-speed this winter and I can’t wait to build off of the success I found with my slider towards the end of last summer along with a completely revamped changeup that I will undoubtedly need to be more effective this season.
MCB: What’s a typical game day like for you when you’re pitching? Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Flynn: I am very loose and relaxed on game days. A lot of pitchers I know like to have their day planned out leading up to a start. I like to let it come to me. I like to sleep in a couple hours or so because I don’t like the anticipation leading up to outings (esp. night games). Subway is the game day meal of choice but every now and then I’ll mix in some Chinese food. Once I arrive at the field though, that’s when the mental prep starts. I throw a mental outing in advance because visualizing is huge. For the most part I usually keep things loose though, get there early, dress slowly, and let music help me relax and clear my head.
MCB: What are some of the things away from the game that you like to do for fun?
Flynn: My life is mostly based around family and friends. I am very close with my mother and I like to spend a lot of time with her in the off-season since I am away playing for long periods of time. Other than that a few things would include fishing, riding my bicycle, reading, cooking, watching movies, and watching sports. I’m not very good at video games but I enjoy them. They kind of passed me by after NBA Live 04 but I always have a Gameboy around in case I get the urge to reminisce on the Pokémon days.
MCB: Outside of baseball do you follow any sports?
I follow just about every sport outside of baseball. I love the NBA and I support my home state Oklahoma City Thunder with a passion. I love football, I am a newly converted Detroit Lions super fan because I’ve never had a team to root for here in Oklahoma and being drafted by the Tigers has been my only connection to a city with a team. I also support the minor league hockey teams in this area (Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder) from the less than packed arenas.
MCB: What are five songs or albums that you’re currently listening to on your iPod?
Flynn: It’s definitely country music this time of year. Being back home does that to me. Eli Young Band (Oklahoma Girl), Gary Allan (Right Where I Need To Be), Kenny Chesney. I’m a huge fan of 90s music as well. Usually during season it’s all about music with beats though. I’ve been listening to a lot of techno lately (Avicii – Levels) its stuff that is really easy to lift, run, or just get pumped up to. I’m more of a fan of instrumentals than lyrics so I use a lot of rap to get me going before games as well just because of the beats and how it gets the blood flowing.
A special thanks to Tigers prospect Brian Flynn for taking the time out of his busy day to answer our questions. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @TheBFlynn .