Willy Kesler is currently a relief pitcher for the Everett AquaSox, the short season A-ball affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Kesler was drafted in the 18th round of the 2010 MLB draft out of New Mexico. He’s having a stellar pro-ball debut for the Sox.
Here’s a link to Willy Kesler’s 2010 Stats
I was personally able to catch-up with him on all things baseball. You can follow him on Twitter at “@wkesler”. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Willy.
Willy Kesler: It has been a big one going from only playing 3 games a week to the playing everyday. Also at school, it was metal bats and the game is a little different from what it is with the wood bats. At school I also had to worry about taking care of stuff in the classroom as well, here playing pro ball, I can just focus on baseball and that’s it. It has been fun being able to pitch to wood bats again.
B: It has now been over 2 years since your Tommy John surgery. How do you feel?
WK: The arm is feeling good. It’s getting tired being that this is my first real full season since the surgery, and I have thrown over 120 IP, but it’s feeling really good.
WK: I was at the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball game up in the suite with my agent and a couple of other guys that were on my team and some of my agent’s friends. We were just sitting there hanging out watching the game.
Being a senior I knew that I wasn’t going to sign for very much money, so I was joking around with my agent what “5% of a plane ticket is (cost)”. And about all 20 of the people in the suite were laughing at that when my buddy looked at the computer and says, “Willy, you were just picked!” So I looked over at the computer and saw my name and jumped up and celebrated. I then got hugs and hand shakes from the people in there with me.
I stepped out and called my mom to tell her, then called my dad right away after that. By the time I got off the phone with my dad, I had about 20 texts from friends saying congrats. It was a very emotional day. It was a dream come true to get drafted. It’s something that I have wanted my whole life and my prayers were finally answered.
B: As of 8/22, you have 27 K’s and 9 walks (3:1 ratio). What do you contribute to your early success in pro-ball?
WK: Just throwing strikes and going at hitters and not getting behind to them. I’m just having fun and going out there and using the abilities that God granted me with.
B: Does Willy Kesler allow a HR in A-ball this season? (0 HR in 26.1 IP w/ Everett)
WK: My goal is to never give one up but those do happen in baseball. I just have to keep going out there and going at hitters and make them hit my pitch. If I can continue to keep doing what I’m doing, and having the fun on the mound that I am having, then no.
But that’s the last thing on my mind right now. What is on my mind is going out there and doing what I can to help my team win the championship. Even if I were to give up a HR but my team wins a ring, then I’m okay with that.
B: You’re from Colorado, played college ball in New Mexico, and now find yourself in the Pacific Northwest. Do you prefer pitching in the cooler weather?
WK: It really doesn’t matter to me. I have pitched at all elevations and climates. It doesn’t really matter to me where I’m pitching. Pitching in the heat is always nice because then you don’t have to wear as many layers.
But my goal in baseball is to pitch in the bigs and to win a World Series ring, with that goal pitchers have to be able to pitch in the cooler weather, because its not always the best weather in October when the playoffs are going in the bigs. I hope that I eventually have to get used to pitching in the cold weather.
B: For those who haven’t seen you pitch yet, what arsenal of pitches do you throw?
B: When you were told TJ surgery was the best option for you, did you have serious doubts you wouldn’t be able to come back?
WK: Yes, I did. I actually got very depressed and was on an emotional rollercoaster. I had many nights where I would just cry myself to sleep because in the back of my head, I thought that my baseball career was done.
B: How has travel in the Northwest League been?
WK: Just on the typical bus. Nothing too fancy but it has been okay. Could be a lot worse for sure.
B: The A-ball season is wrapping up soon, what are your plans for the rest of 2010?
WK: I am going to be moving back down into Albuquerque after I stop back home in Thornton, CO. Then I’m going to Kansas City to visit my best friend. Then head down to Alb., I’m going to be moving in with my friend, workout and trying to find a job until I have to report for spring training.
B: Have you been to Safeco Field yet?
WK: Yes, I have. When I first got up here to Seattle I had to do some testing there before I could start playing in games.
B: How much would pitching in a “big park” alter your pitching style/selection?
WK: It doesn’t matter if it’s a small park or a big one; I still feel that you have to attack the hitter.
B: When you reach the bigs, and come out of the pen, what song would you enter the game to?
WK: Right now, I would have to say “Winner” by Jamie Foxx because my goal is to always be a winner and never back down. (Music Video)
B: Did you ever want to be a starter?
Word association time:
B: Everett, WA WK: great place
B: Ken Griffey Jr. WK: Hall of Fame
B: 10+ Hour Bus Rides to Boise, ID WK: Absolutely horrible
B: MiLB Fans WK: Amazing and Fun
B: Where is Willy Kesler in 2015?
WK: Seattle Mariners (Winning a World Series)
B: Thanks for your time Willy, speaking on behalf of all Mariners fans, we appreciate everything you do and we look forward to following your career all the way to Seattle!
WK: Thank you, I appreciate it. Anytime. I love all the fans out there, makes playing the game even more fun.