Q&A with Twins Rookie Reliever Ryan Pressly

Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 draft allows minor league players who are stuck in a talent logjam with their current organization a chance to play in the big leagues for a team in need of help. The draft, held annually during the Winter Meetings, involves little risk.

If player has 4 or 5 years of minor league experience (depending on their age) and is not on their team’s 40-man roster, they become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. The team with the worst record the previous season gets first dibs and so on. Most simply pass. If a team does select a player, they must pay the former team a $50,000 fee. The selected player then must remain on the gaining team’s 25-man major league roster or be offered back to the original team for $25,000. Typically, only rebuilding teams engage in this process, contending teams are usually not willing to slot a roster spot for an unproven player they are unable to demote to the minor leagues.

The Twins famously used this process to acquire Johan Santana in 1999. They took another crack at it this season with Ryan Pressly. Pressly spent the past 5 years in the Boston farm system, posting a 25-31 record and 4.27 ERA in 109 appearances (82 starts). The pitching starved Twins liked his arm and decided to take a flier on the youngster. He pitched well enough this spring to earn a spot in the bullpen.

So far, the results have been good. In 4 games (5 2/3 innings), Pressly hasn’t allowed an earned run while striking out 4. The 24-year-old righthander and I hooked up for a quick chat during the last homestand.

DZ: You are off to a pretty good start individually…how important is that when you get to a new team?

PRESSLY: It’s all about presenting yourself and showing that you can produce for your teammates and everything like that. It kind of gives your starting pitchers some confidence that you can come in there and get the job done. Hopefully I can keep that streak going.

DZ: Not only is this a new team, but it’s your major league debut…are the jitters out after, what is it, four appearances now?

PRESSLY: Yeah, they are gone now, but I still get anxious when that phone rings. It’s always a good opportunity and it’s fun. After my debut, I kind of got that out of the way, so know I can focus on each outing when it comes up.

DZ: You came over as a Rule 5 pick, did you see that coming going into the Rule 5 draft?

PRESSLY: I did not see it coming to be honest with you. I was more surprised than anything because I thought that I pitched well enough in the Arizona Fall League to get on the 40-man (roster) with the Red Sox. They called me and said I wasn’t going to be put on there, so I just put my head down and kept going with the off season. Then December 5 came and they called me and said I got picked up by the Twins.

DZ: It’s kind of a unique situation when you come to spring training (as a Rule 5 pick), you come to the Twins and are either going to make the major league team or you go back to the Red Sox in the minor leagues. How did you approach that situation?

PRESSLY: I had nothing to lose, so I just went out there and attacked hitters. That’s really all they wanted me to do and that’s what I tried to do. The Red Sox are a first class organization, all of my friends and a lot relationships were built over there, but this is my dream, this is where I wanted to be regardless. I am glad I am here with the Twins and not back in the minor leagues with the Red Sox.

DZ: How did you find out you made the team?

PRESSLY: It was actually after my last outing against the Red Sox (in spring training). I was walking into the dugout and Gardenhire kind of pulled me to the side - I probably wasn’t two steps into the dugout yet - and said “Congratulations, you made out squad.” That’s how I found out - at the Red Sox place - it was kinda fun.

DZ: Has anyone kind of taken you under their wing and showed you the ropes?

PRESSLY: Yeah, Jared Burton. When I first came over I was kind of watching what he was doing. When I first got here for Twins Fest, I hung out with Mike Pelfrey for quite a bit. Everybody here has had open arms, so it’s been a relatively easy transition so far.

DZ: One of the big stories, at least here at home so far, has been the weather. What are the challenges, when it’s this cold, for a relief pitcher in the bullpen.

PRESSLY: Oh, man. You just have to stay moving I guess. Really, that’s all you can do. You just have to stay loose and try to stay warm and be ready when that phone calls.

DZ: One last thing, you are No. 57, did you pick that?

PRESSLY: No, they just handed it to me. It was really weird because I said the same thing about the Rule 5 and Johan Santana. I guess it was a good omen when I got that number. I am kinda glad I have it now.

(Photo by Keith Allison via Wikipedia)

3 Responses to “Q&A with Twins Rookie Reliever Ryan Pressly”

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