Ryan Kiel: Quick Stats
Team: Seattle Mariners Twitter: @RK_Threes
Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 230 lb Born: June 26, 1987 in Los Gatos, California, US (Age 24)
Drafted: Seattle Mariners in the 37th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft
Favorite Player Growing Up: Randy Johnson
Chasing The Dream: Ryan Kiel
Every players journey from youth baseball to the major leagues follows a different path and provides us with a different story. For Ryan Kiel his story and his dream of becoming a major league baseball player has taken him all across the country. Besides growing up in Florida and California, Kiel attended the University of Arizona. An arm injury however caused him to
transfer schools. His next stop took him across the United States to Marshall University in West Virginia. Marshall may not be known as a baseball school but they do play in a strong baseball conference with schools such as Rice. Over the course of his three seasons Kiel pitched in a variety of roles with the Thundering Hurd. Kiel saw himself take the hill a total of 78 times in his three seasons, 21 of those appearances were starts.
In June of 2010 the Seattle Mariners drafted Kiel in the 37th round. The next stop on Kiel’s cross country tour to the majors would not be Seattle Washington. The left handed pitchers professional journey to the majors was just starting and his first stop was Pulaski Virginia as a member of the Mariners Appalachian League team. After signing quickly Kiel got his professional career underway throwing exclusively out of the bullpen. In 13 appearance he posted solid numbers putting up an ERA of 3.97 in 22.2 innings and earned his first professional save. As 2011 approached Kiel looked to advance and improve his game in the Mariners system however injury problems plagued Kiel for the first part of the season. Finally debuting in July, Kiel was promoted to the Clinton Lumberkings, where he began developing a change-up as a third pitch to go with his power fastball and slider. The lefties value paid off as he was used in a variety of situations in his 15 appearances. Not only did he start one and save one game for the Kings but he was also used as a long man and a situational lefty to get a key out when needed. As the year came to an end Kiel finished with a solid 3.54 ERA in 28 innings and had a strike out rate of 10.3/9 innings.
As 2012 approaches Kiel hopes he can remain healthy and improve off of his solid outings from his first two seasons in the Mariners system. Look for the Mariners to use him in a variety of roles in 2012 and in the future. Left handed pitchers who can pitch successfully in a number of roles are valuable and hard to come by. Where will 2012 take Kiel? Maybe stops in High Desert and Jackson will be in order depending on how successful he is. We will continue to follow Ryan throughout 2012 and keep you up to date on his progression. You can follow Ryan on twitter at @RK_Threes and Chasing The Dream at @CTD_Sypien.
Seven Questions with Ryan Kiel
What was it like to be drafted, what were you doing when you found out?
Getting drafted was one of the greatest feelings that I have ever had in my life. I had just finished up my senior season and was doing a big road trip home to California with my friend Anthony. We were planning on visiting 10 baseball stadiums while driving from Huntington, WV to Los Gatos, Ca. I knew that the draft was going on and had got pretty good word that the Mariners were thinking of taking me. However, until you actually get the call you don’t really expect it. I was driving through some town in Ohio and that’s when one of my Marshall teammates called me screaming and that’s when I really found out. Shortly after, my drafting scout called me to give me all the details. The best part of it all was calling my parents to tell them the news.
Being From California what made you choose Marshall Univ to play baseball?
I actually started my career as a walk on at the University of Arizona. Injury set me back some so staying there and playing wasn’t going to work out. I got calls from many different schools shortly after I left the team. Marshall to me was the best possible option at that time. Marshall was an up and coming baseball program in a great conference. I clicked with the coaches and staff right away, which made the decision pretty easy.
Can you give us a scouting report of your make up. What pitches do you throw? What is you biggest strengths and weakness as a Pitcher?
I’m a pretty big guy so I like to think of myself as a power pitcher. I like to attack hitters with my fastball and make them prove to me that they can hit it. My secondary pitches are a slider as well as a change up that I developed last season. As far as my strengths are concerned I feel that I am a very competitive person by nature. I live for the end of the game situations when it’s all on the line. I would have to say that my strength is the way I compete to get out of some sticky situations. I don’t like to say I have a weakness, but if there is something that I would like to get better at it is my command.
Every player has ups and downs. So far in your pro career what has been your biggest up and your biggest down?
My biggest down would easily be my strained oblique that kept me out of good chunk of last season. My biggest up would honestly have to be my first game pitching appearance as a Mariner. This was a moment that I know I will never forget. It was a surreal feeling knowing that everything that I had worked for in my life to become a professional baseball player had actually come true. There are very few times for me as an athlete where I actually take a step back and let the moment sink in, and that was definitely one of them.
You have mostly be used as a Relief Pitcher in your pro career but you have made a few starts. Do you prefer Starting or Relieving?
To tell you the truth I enjoy pitching… Period. You can stick me in any role and I will give you everything I have. I like the feeling of being the guy who starts the game and gets on the nice routine. I also like to be the guy who comes out of the bullpen in the later innings in the key spots. I have been well trained throughout my career in both roles and would be very happy in either.
Is there anything in particular that The Mariners stress or teach to their pitchers at the levels of baseball that you have played at?
The Mariners want intelligent hard working players. They want guys who are not afraid to make mistakes but at the same time learn from them. As an organization they stress basic things as pitching low in the zone and being able to throw all of your pitches for strikes. Outside of pitching they want to see guys who can field their position and can control the running game. If you can do all of these things at a high level your chances of moving up will increase.
Heading into the 2012 season what are your personal goals you would like to achieve?
My goal every year is to be better than I was the previous year. Baseball is such a difficult game that everyone has room for improvement. Personally this season I want to focus on being more efficient with my pitches earlier in the counts. I also want to put emphasis on controlling the running game. Finally I want to improve in my game management and pitch calling. There are plenty other things that I can do to become a better pitcher but these are just a few.
A Few For Fun
Who was your favorite player or players growing up in baseball? Favorite non-baseball althlete?
In baseball my favorite player growing up was Randy Johnson. I think its safe to say that any left-handed pitcher who grew up around that time would say the same. Left handed hitters would be taken out of the lineup when he would pitch and the righties that took their places really had no chance either. The way that he dominated hitters throughout his career was awesome to watch. My favorite non-baseball athlete is The Rock. As a pre pubescent teenage boy nothing got me more pumped then seeing The Rock lay the smack down on everyone’s candy a**. He was a very funny and witty entertainer and really was the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. To this day I still look forward to all his movies and his recent return to the WWE. Luckily I have a few buddies in the organization who share my interest in the WWE so it’s not that weird.
Do you follow any other sports? If so what teams do you follow?
I am a huge sports fan. I grew up in Miami so I like basically all South Florida teams (Dolphins, Marlins, and Heat). I can’t say that I follow the Marlins anymore since I moved out west and was drafted by the Mariners. I am a huge college sports fan as well. Both my parents attended the University of Florida so I grew up a Gator. Obviously I have my allegiance to my Alma matter in Marshall. In general though I just love sports in general, so if it is on TV I will probably be watching it.
Who do you think is going to win the Super Bowl?
I can’t say that I really have a dog in the fight this year. I have been following the Giants and Patriots this year based on players that I had on my fantasy football team. If I had to pick a winner now though I would have to give the nod to the Patriots. I am a big Tom Brady fan and feel that you can never count him out. Their are good story lines with the remaining teams, so it should be fun to watch either way.
A special thanks to Ryan Kiel for taking some time out of his off-season schedule to sit down and talk a little baseball with us. Once again please give him a follow at @RK_Threes and follow us at @CTD_Sypien as we follow Ryan and others during the 2012 season.