Kyle Wilson Interview: Haley Smilow Talks Baseball with the Laredo Pitcher and Member of Team Great Britain in the WBC Qualifiers
Tuesday September 18th, 2012
MLB reports: Great news folks, Haley is back! And of course, she has brought a friend. Our Junior MLB Correspondent is featured today with her interview of pitcher Kyle Wilson. The 29-year old Wilson is a baseball story of grinding every day and playing the game he loves. A 22nd round pick of the Dodgers in 2004, Kyle Wilson pitched 4 seasons in the Dodgers system. In 2008, he reached AA Jacksonville of the Southern League. The past few years, Kyle Wilson has played indy ball. In 2012, he spent time with both the Gary SouthShore RailCats and the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association.
Timing for Haley worked out really well (as usual), given that Kyle Wilson is currently in Germany preparing to represent Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers! With the tournament set to begin tomorrow, we get to learn about one of its representatives- up close and personal. Featured today on MLB reports, Haley Smilow speaks one-on-one with pitcher Kyle Wilson:
HALEY: I know your home games are played at U.S. Steel Yard, what are some of your other favorite ballparks?
KYLE: The best park I have played in was in Jacksonville, FL when I played for the Suns. The stadium was great and fans showed great support. The league I am currently in I would have to say that Kansas City and Winnipeg had the best facilities, fans, and accommodations.
HALEY: Do you have any rituals or superstitions before and during a game?
KYLE: I wouldn’t say I have a set ritual that I have I done my whole career. But if I have a good game I try to remember things I did leading up to that performance. Like what I ate the night before and before the game. What jersey/hat/pants/cleats I wore. What time I did certain things to prepare my body to play. I think athletes are creatures of habit. Especially when things are going well.
HALEY: Can you share with us your first memory as a professional?
KYLE: Yes. I signed late after I was drafted so I didn’t play the rookie level that year. The next year I go to spring training and do really well and break camp with the advanced A team. Skipping the rookie and low-A levels. In our first game we are winning 1-0 going into the 9th inning and they tell me to warm up to go in and close the game. Got to say I was pretty surprised they decided to put me in that situation for my first professional outing. I went in, got the job done and we won. I will never forget it.
HALEY: Tell me about your pitching repertoire. Is there one pitch you feel most confident in throwing?
KYLE: I throw fastball, curveball, change-up. Mixing in a cut-fastball and sinker (these are just variations of a fastball). Before I was hurt my fastball was by far my best pitch. I still feel it is now but not as much. My changeup has come a long way and has proven to be a good pitch for me now.
HALEY: What part of your game do you feel like you need to improve upon?
KYLE: Locating my fastball more consistently. Every good pitcher can do this and it makes all the secondary pitches better as well.
HALEY: What is your favorite movie?
KYLE: Hmm I have so many. I will go with Gladiator.
HALEY: What is your favorite candy?
KYLE: Sour patch kids on a more consistent basis. But the sour gummy blue bottles from a candy shop are my absolute favorite.
HALEY: Do the Railcats have any hazing rituals for rookie pitchers?
KYLE: Nothing specific like the little kid backpacks you see on rookie MLB pitchers. But all rookies on the team have to load the team equipment on and off the bus, have to double up on the bus, and get dibs on anything last.
HALEY: How do you keep yourself occupied on those long bus trips?
KYLE: We had a really nice bus. Satellite TV, wifi, and plugins for your lap top of cell phone. I watch television, movies, surf the internet, read, and sleep.
HALEY: Name five songs in your iPod that you have on repeat right now?
KYLE: Santeria, Sublime. Danza kuduro, Don Omar. Tupac, Gangsta Party. Audio Slave, Cochise. Rage against the Machine, Killing in the Name of.
HALEY: Do you like any other sports besides baseball?
KYLE: I am a very competitive person so I love many sports. I play pick up basketball the most. But football, golf, tennis, and swimming are great too!
HALEY: If you weren’t playing baseball what else could you see yourself doing?
KYLE: I ask myself this question all the time. I love so many different things that life has to offer. As I said I very competitive which makes me want to pursue something in business.
HALEY: Do you have a nickname that teammates/fans call you?
KYLE: College: Wils. Dodgers: Willow. Independent baseball: Willy.
HALEY: When the coach comes to the mound, what do you talk about?
KYLE: It depends on the situation. Sometime the coach will bring the infield in and talk about what we are trying to do as a team. But more often than not, a mound visit is used to break the momentum of the other team.
HALEY: How many sets of BP and Game uniforms do you get? And do you wash them yourself?
KYLE: In Gary we had many. I am not sure of the exact number but 5 or 6 I would say. We have a club house manager that handles all baseball laundry.
HALEY: Now that you have become sports celebrity what types of community service or charity work are you involved in?
KYLE: I would not call myself a celebrity quite yet. The levels I have played with do not offer many opportunities like this. I would love to do things like this though. The closest we get is making appearances in the community.
HALEY: What do you do during the offseason?
KYLE: For the first few offseasons I finished my schooling at UCLA. Recently, I have kept myself in shape and working various part-time jobs. I always try to keep the mind sharp and read.
HALEY: What players inspired you to become a professional player?
KYLE: I love Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr, and Greg Maddux growing up. However, I would say my dad inspired more than all else to be baseball player.
HALEY: Did you play on any travel teams when you were younger?
KYLE: Many, I started when I was around 12. My dad helped start it. We were called the Santa Clarita Posse.
HALEY: Have you ever played any other position than pitcher?
KYLE: Up until college I played all over the infield. Mostly second and third base.
HALEY: What was your favorite school subject?
KYLE: History. It was my major at UCLA as well.
HALEY: Favorite Ballpark food?
KYLE: Love those Dodger Dogs!
HALEY: What advice would you give to kids like me?
KYLE: Do not get to high or to low on a particular performance. Always be learning. Be a team player first, and be coachable. Repetition is key to getting better, but make sure you are having fun.
Haley Smilow is a sixth grader in New York City. During the school year when she is not busy with schoolwork, she enjoys playing soccer, reading, and hanging out with her friends. But her true passion is baseball and the New York Yankees! In August 2011, Haley and her family set out on a quest to visit all 30 ballparks over the next 4 years. Join Haley on this journey as she talks baseball with players, club executives, ushers or just about anyone who willing to talk baseball.
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Posted on September 18, 2012, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged american association, baseball, gary southshore railcats, germany, great britain, Greg Maddux, haley smilow, ken griffey jr, kyle wilson, laredo lemurs, mlb, mlb interview, mlb reports, pitcher, qualifier round, tony gwynn, wbc, world baseball classic. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.