Tyler LaTorre: Interview with San Francisco Giants Catcher
Thursday August 18, 2011
MLB reports: Today on the Reports we are proud to feature Tyler LaTorre, a catcher with the San Francisco Giants.
The 28-year old LaTorre is a true example of perseverance. LaTorre bypassed the MLB draft and signed with the Giants in 2006, his favorite team as a youngster. After playing four seasons at UC Davis, LaTorre began his professional career in the Arizona Rookie League in 2006. This season LaTorre worked his way up the ranks to AAA Fresno and looks to be banging on the Giants door. With Buster Posey entrenched as the Giants starting catcher, the California native LaTorre continues to strive towards a future position with the big league club.
We are pleased to present Tyler LaTorre of the San Francisco Giants:
MLB reports: Welcome to the Reports Tyler. It is a pleasure to be speaking with you today. Growing up, who was your favorite baseball player? Which player did you most idolize and pattern your game after?
Tyler LaTorre: My all time favorite player is Ken Griffey, Jr. I was always number #24 when playing in little league and on up. Being a left-handed hitter myself, I idolized and mimicked his sweet swing and tried to play the game with has much fun as he did. In the end, baseball is still a game and is meant to be fun. Junior played the game with so much fun and made the game fun to watch.
MLB reports: Griffey is a very popular choice among current athletes we have spoken to. On the flip side, which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Tyler LaTorre: I am a huge fan of all major league players and I admire them all. I love watching big league swings and big league closers throwing hard with dirty off speed pitches. The MLB At Bat app for the iPhone is amazing. Multiple times a day I find myself watching big league swings and seeing what it takes to be a big leaguer. I want nothing more than to someday have people watching my swing on the MLB At Bat app.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Tyler LaTorre: I have won two league championship rings. My proudest moment individually though, was getting a call to the big league spring camp this past year. I was only there for a couple of weeks, but it was a dream come true to be a part of the World Series Champion Giants Spring Training. I learned as much in those two weeks as I have learned in my four years in the minor leagues. I was truly blessed to have been given that opportunity.
MLB reports: What are your goals going into the 2011 season?
Tyler LaTorre: My goals for 2011 are like years past. When I get my opportunities, I have to take advantage of them. I am no longer a prospect and I have never been a player that gets 500-600 AB’s in a season. So when I get my plate appearances, I have to make the most out of them. So far in 2011, I feel like I have done that and I am trying to stay sharp even though the next opportunity might not be today or tomorrow, but a week down the road. Another goal of mine is to help my team win in any way possible. I hate losing and I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I would also like to stay healthy and play winter ball somewhere in the offseason.
MLB reports: When you first found out you were signed by the Giants, what was going through your mind? Why did you choose to bypass the draft and what was the process like choosing to sign with the Giants in 2006?
Tyler LaTorre: It was very surreal to me when I signed my professional contract with the Giants. It didn’t set in until I was sent to Arizona before being sent to Salem, Oregon for short season. I was a fifth year senior at UC Davis in 2006, and I put together a career changing season that got me a chance to play at the next level. Since I had already graduated and got my degree when my college season was over, I had up to one week before the draft to sign with a team or I would have had to wait on the draft. After my last college game I was offered contracts from some MLB organization, including the Giants. I could have waited for the draft to see where that might take me, but I had the ball in my court and I got to choose where I felt would be the best opportunity for my future. That choice was the San Francisco Giants.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Tyler LaTorre: I feel like I am a great leader and that I have the ability to make my teammates better. I handle a pitching staff very well and pitchers trust me to make the right decision on the field to help the team. I take pride in pitch calling and controlling the other teams’ running game. I also like to think that I can handle the bat pretty well and I hit from the left side, so that’s a strong skill that I possess.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Tyler LaTorre: I am always looking for ways to get better in all facets of my game. I want to quicken my foot work when catching and hit for more pull side power. I also want to try to get some more leg strength to last a full season behind the plate if that opportunity ever arises. In 2010, I caught the majority of the final two months of AA and I figured out what it was like to catch everyday. That season took a toll on my body and I want to be prepared so that I never feel like that again. I would like to be strong and able to perform at the highest levels.
MLB reports: How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game? Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?
Tyler LaTorre: To me, striking out is the worst thing that I can do when I have a plate appearance. Walking back to the dugout after a strikeout is a terrible feeling for me and I can’t stand letting my team down. I have always had a pretty good eye in the box and I feel I know the strike zone very well. Drawing a walk and getting on base for my team is a victory in itself, and I have always prided myself on having even strikeout to walk ratios in my career. Strikeouts are going to happen, they are a part of baseball. But I strive to make the pitcher work to get me out. I look to walk or put the ball in play to make something happen, and to battle and compete during every one of my at bats.
MLB reports: Long term do you see yourself staying behind the plate? How do you see defense as part of your overall game?
Tyler LaTorre: Catching is one of the funniest things I have ever done in my life. I love catching, blocking, calling a game, and winning baseball games. Nothing more satisfying than working as hard as I can for nine innings and getting that 27th out and walking out to the mound and shaking my teammates’ hands. However, I know the reality that there is only one catcher on the field at one time and there are prospects in this game that have to play. So ultimately whatever can get me in the lineup to help the team win is what I want.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
Tyler LaTorre: I need a chance. I need someone or some team to take a chance on me and I need to show them they have made the right choice. I don’t have a timetable on when I will join the Giants. I wish it was tomorrow, but whenever that time may come or not come, I will always be ready to play and compete to the best of my abilities.
MLB reports: Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far? What are some of the highs and lows you have experienced?
Tyler LaTorre: I didn’t really have many expectations. I am the type of person that takes things day by day and even pitch to pitch. I don’t worry about the past or future, I live in the right now and it has helped me stay focused my whole career. On the high side has to be my short season team in 2007 when we had the best winning percentage in all of baseball and won the Northwest League Championship. Also being a non-draftee, non-prospect in AAA right now competing at the level right below the big leagues is a pretty big high for me. On the low side, in 2007 I didn’t make a team out of my first spring training and was sent to extended spring staining in 110 degree Arizona. I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it out of there and was going to be released before I even had the opportunity to show my abilities. But I stay focused and dedicated to baseball and four years later I am in AAA and looking forward to each day and an opportunity to make the big league roster.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball? Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?
Tyler LaTorre: I love having a good time and laughing. Whether it is on the field, the plane/bus, or at our apartment in Fresno, I try to stay positive and have fun. I mostly hang out with Brett Pill, Jackson Williams, Brock Bond, and Brandon Crawford. We all have a great time together and play video games, go to the mall, Golf, whatever we can do to take our minds off playing this tough and grueling game called baseball. I would have retired from baseball a long time ago if I didn’t have such a fun group of friends in this game.
MLB reports: How has the Buster Posey injury affected the organization? Did it have a direct influence on your playing time in your opinion?
Tyler LaTorre: The injury hit me pretty hard. To see a friend in so much pain, made me sick to my stomach. I had to stop watching replays. Buster’s injury was tragic and put our minor league organization in a bit of chaos. We started moving catchers around, looking for trades, and signing free agent catchers. But it never got me more playing time, which was frustrating. The truth is that I haven’t really played that much this year. It doesn’t affect my drive though. I come to the field everyday expecting to be in the lineup and ready to help the team win.
MLB reports: A big thank you to Tyler LaTorre for joining us today on the Reports. We wish you the best of luck on your baseball journey and hope to see you playing for the Giants very soon. You have competed very hard to make it to this point in your baseball career and look for you to take the final step to the big leagues. We definitely encourage all our readers to feel free to contact Tyler with your comments and questions on his Twitter handle. Tyler is a must follow!
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