Tyler Thornburg Interview: Talking Pitching, Goals, and Ryan Braun with the Brewers Prospect
By Curt Hogg
One of the highlights of all the work going on at Reviewing the Brew is the plethora of interviews that will be taking place on the site. In case you missed it, RtB interviewed Brewers pitching prospect Seth Harvey on Thursday. Looming in the near future are interviews with top prospects Eric Farris and Brock Kjeldgaard. For now, I present to you the Tyler Thornburg Experience, coming to a Major League stadium near you soon.
Prior to 2011, the name Tyler Thornburg was unfamiliar to most Brewers fans. The third round selection in 2010 broke out in grandeur, posting a 10-6 record, 2.57 ERA, 1.112 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 ratio in 136.2 innings between the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Brevard County Manatees. Before receiving the promotion to Brevard County, Thornburg, 23, made a mockery of Midwest League hitters with the Timber Rattlers. In 12 starts, he struck out 76 batters, threw two complete games (one of which was a shutout), posted a miniscule 1.57 era, and went a perfect 7-0.
His performance earned him a spot as one of the Brewers top prospects and a coveted spot in the MLB Futures Game played every summer during Major League All Star week festivities. The appearance–and consequential scoreless frame–in the Futures Game highlighted the right-hander’s sudden burst onto the scene.
Thornburg, a former pitcher at Charleston Southern University, has been rated as high as the second-highest prospect in the Brewers organization. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both rated Thornburg as the fourth prospect in the organization. His big league projection is currently unclear, and, in the interview, Thornburg assured us he feels comfortable both coming out of the bullpen and starting. He begins 2012 in AA with the Huntsville Stars.
Tyler was gracious enough to accept an interview request from Reviewing the Brew, making at least one 16-year-old aspiring journalist feel semi-refulgent. Yep, that’s right. He can now add ‘Distinguished interviewee of Reviewing the Brew’ to his resume (as if it wasn’t impressive enough already).
Reviewing the Brew: You represented the Brewers organization in the Futures Game in Arizona last season. How was that experience?
Tyler Thornburg: The futures game was amazing. I expected it to be fun but nothing like that. To be treated like a big leaguer for a day was awesome.
RtB: Some lists have you ranked as high as second on the Brewers list of top prospects? Do you pay any attention to this list or is it just a minor nuance for you?
Thornburg: I’ve seen some of the lists but a lot of the people that make them haven’t seen me pitch and are just going off what everyone else says.
RtB: What are your short-term goals as a pitcher?
Thornburg: My short term goals are to have a great year this year and get called up to the big leagues at some point this year.
RtB: Long-term goals?
Thornburg: My long term goal is to pitch in the big leagues for at least 10 years.
RtB: After a great 2011 season and Futures Game appearance, how do you deal with the pressure and comparisons set upon you?
Thornburg: Honestly, I do know there is pressure on me to perform. I also put more pressure on myself to do well. I know how good I can be and I don’t want to fall short of that
RtB: What are the best/worst parts of being a Minor Leaguer?
Thornburg: I enjoy traveling and playing baseball, of course. Other than that, the minor leagues are tough. The wear and tear on your body.. and it’s tough to stay on a nutrition program because you can only eat what is within walking distance of the hotel and what the clubhouse provides.
RtB: What would you attribute your breakout 2011 season to?
Thornburg: Hard work and trying to learn everyday how to get better. I thought I did well in 2011 but I know I can do a lot better and I hope 2012 will show that.
RtB: Time for the Quiz the Pro segment: If you came in for one at bat against Ryan Braun, how would you pitch him?
Thornburg: I would probably try and stay inside so he can’t get his hands extended. Throw a few curveballs and if I got 2 strikes try and climb the ladder. Definitely try and not make any mistake pitches.
RtB: In the majors, would you be more comfortable coming in from the bullpen or as a starter? There are projections that see you as capable of either role.
Thornburg: Honestly I feel comfortable starting and relieving. I’ve done both a lot. I really don’t have a preference except which one gets me to the big leagues and allows me to excel the most.
RtB: Thanks for your time, Tyler.
Thornburg: Yeah, no problem.