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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

In Texas the pitchers are red hot!

by: Paul Gierhart

In the tradition of Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Josh Beckett, the subject of this interview is a native of Texas with an arm that is red hot as the Lone Star states chili. I feel real fortunate to have gotten to know this 2003 first round pick for the Texas Rangers and see him pitch in the Midwest League for the Clinton Lumberkings several times. His pitching smartness for the tender age of nineteen has proven to help him recently make the move from low "A" ball Clinton, IA to Stockton (California League) high "A" ball. His complete respect shown to everyone he comes in contact with is a great tribute to his family and his church.

Before introducing the subject of this interview, I would like to thank all the people from the Clinton Lumberkings Professional Baseball Club (at Alliant Energy Field) who helped make this interview possible…especially the Director of Operations – Nate Kreinbrink. Without Nate’s help, I don’t think this interview would have happen.

Sit back now and enjoy an interview with left-hand pitcher John Danks.

TPA: What are your earliest recollections of baseball players & games attended? Did you collect baseball memorabilia as kids?

JD: The first big league game I remember attending was the Red Sox versus the Rangers at the old Arlington Stadium. Roger Clemens threw against Nolan Ryan. It was awesome, but I didn’t quite understand the autograph system. Our seats were right behind the Red Sox dugout (about two rows) and Roger Clemens was my favorite player. After every inning I would ask him for an autograph. I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t sign. I was pretty bitter the rest of the night. Still to this day, I have boxes full of baseball cards. As youngsters, my brother, friends, and I would sit down and trade for hours at a time.

TPA: Up to your high school career, what baseball experience(s) have you had? Any special teams stick out in your mind?

JD: Up through high school all my Little League and All Star teams stick out, because it was the same group of guys I played with in high school. My first team I ever pitched for was the Rangers.

TPA: How would you describe your high school career at Round Rock HS in Texas? Were there any special coaches or teammates that left an impression with you on how you will approach the pro game?

JD: High school baseball was so much fun; especially my senior year. I would do anything to be able to go back and play my senior year again. We had a great following at every game no matter where we were. I think everyone will leave somewhat of an impression, but the thing I will remember most is the State Championship, playing with the guys I grew up playing with (who are all either playing Division I or pro ball), and playing with my brother (he’s going to be a very good ballplayer and well known this next spring).

TPA: What role has your family played in your baseball career?

JD: Without my family I wouldn’t be where I am today. Everything from fixing me a good breakfast in the morning, to making sure I get up in time to workout and everything else you can think of…we are a very close family.

TPA: Did you have any private workout(s) with any of the major league teams’ scouts prior to the June ’03 draft?

JD: No, we talked to a few teams about doing that (workouts), but my family and advisors felt like I had put myself in a position where all I could do is hurt myself and I was still in the high school playoffs. Scouts were still at these games.

TPA: What thoughts/emotions did you experience before, during and after the June 2003 draft? How hard was the decision to sign with the Rangers over continuing your baseball career at Univ of Texas?

JD: I am glad I was still in the high school playoffs, because I was more focused on that than anything else. During the draft was a mess. About three or four picks in to the draft we lost the internet feed and couldn’t pick up the draft at all. Finally about the eleventh or twelfth pick it came back and I saw my name on the list, but I never heard my name. After that the phone rang off the hook with interviews, friends and family.

TPA: After signing with the Rangers, what were your experiences like at Instructional League and Class A Spokane ?

JD: Instructional league is where I learned how to pitch. Before instructional in the Arizona and Northwest Leagues, I was a thrower and got knocked around a little bit. But at instructional a change-up and more importantly the mental side of the game was developed.

TPA: What aspects of your game do you feel you need to work on and what is your off season training like?

JD: I definitely need to polish and fine tune all of my pitches, especially my change-up. Really I’m no more advanced than the next guy. I need to hold runners better and learn situational pitching (exa. getting a double play ball instead of a strike out…saving the arm and getting the offense in as quickly as possible). This off season (and hopefully more to come) I worked out with two big league ball players, Brandon Puffer and Scott Linebrink. It was the hardest I’ve worked in my life. It really gave me a good idea of how much work it takes.

TPA: What is your attitude towards in-person and through-the-mail autograph seekers?

JD: I recently just started signing and returning mail. I’ll still only return baseball cards, just out of the fear of what people could do with the signature on anything else. Send me all the baseball cards you want.

TPA: Outside of baseball what are your likes and dislikes?

JD: I like being outside playing basketball and hanging out with my dogs. I enjoy church with my family and playing Rainbow 6 3 on Xbox live. It’s a war game based on a Tom Clancy book. It’s great fun.

TPA: Complete this sentence…When I’m not playing baseball, you would find me________________________.

JD: …playing basketball, Xbox, going to the movies or at church.


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