Interview with Brewers Minor League Prospect Brock Kjeldgaard
By Curt Hogg
Of the three preceding interviews on Reviewing the Brew with Brewers prospects, Brock Kjeldgaard’s is by far the largest…literally. Kjeldgaard is listed at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds on the official website of the Huntsville Stars, Milwaukee’s AA affiliate (we’ll get into more of this later). The Canada native was drafted as a pitcher in the 34th round by Milwaukee in the 2005 MLB amateur draft and has worked his way into the upper echelon of Brewers prospects, rated as the number 14 prospect by MLB.com.
He was been posting good power numbers ever since making the switch to outfielder in the 2008 season with 76 homers, including a career-high 24 long balls in 2011. Even with his large stature, Kjeldgaard stole 15 bases last season between Brevard County and Huntsville. Not wanting to lose him to the Rule V draft this off-season, the Brewers placed him on their 40 man roster as an outfielder, though he has split time between first base and the outfield.
When given the choice of interviewing him in a dark alley or via the internet, the easy decision was made to go with the latter. In all seriousness, the staff at Reviewing the Brew loves Kjeldgaard’s ability. Our newly-appointed editor Colin posted about Brock this spring and Lou later said it was “madness that Brock didn’t get more time” in the big league camp.
With all the aspirations for Brock around RtB, we were able to interview him as our fourth prospect interview in the past two weeks. Read the first three with Seth Harvey, Tyler Thornburg, and recent Brewers call-up Eric Farris here.
Reviewing the Brew: The Stars official website has you listed as 6’5″, 235 pounds. Is that any of a stretch or are you that imposing a figure at the plate?
Brock Kjeldgaard: Actually I am 6’5″ 250lbs. That weight must be from a few years ago.
RtB: There’s obviously some power in that frame. What’s the farthest you’ve ever hit a ball?
Kjeldgaard: I couldn’t tell you the farthest I have hit a ball, because it is hard to tell as so many things come into play.
RtB:For reference for Brewers fans, what’s the official pronunciation of your name? And what’s the worst it’s been butchered at a minor league ballpark?
Kjeldgaard: My last name actually has a few silent letters. It is pronouced Kell-guard. The “J” and the ‘D” are silent. And the worst I have heard my name pronounced was last year playing international baseball. At the World Cup in Panama the announcer would introduce me as, “Bateador Canadien número 18, Brock Kijeldimigardencop.” I think he just saw the first few letters then made the rest up.
RtB:I’ve asked this question to the other guys I’ve interviewed. What are the best and worst parts of being a minor leaguer?
Kjeldgaard: For me, one of the toughest parts about playing minor league baseball is always being on the road. It can be tough being away from home for 7 months of the year. As for the best parts, I would have to say playing everyday and being able to see all different parts of America.
RtB: You had 15 steals between Brevard County and Huntsville last season–is that a part of your game that people may overlook, especially with your ability to hit for power?
Kjeldgaard: I think running the bases is a very important part of the game. That being said, base stealing is just a part of running the bases. The better you can run the bases, the more you can help your team and your teammates.
RtB: Have you been able to avoid the injury bug through most of your career?
Kjeldgaard: I have been very fortunate throughout my career to be able to stay on the field. There’s always scrapes, aches and pains you have battle through every day.
RtB: The Brewers “protected” you by placing you on the 40 man roster, keeping from losing you to the Rule V draft. What did this message from the organization mean to you both as a prospect and as a person?
Kjeldgaard: Obviously, being added to the 40 man roster means a lot to me. And it shows that the Brewers also believe I can be successful. I have improved quite a bit in the past couple seasons, and I know I can improve a lot more in the future.
RtB: What are your short-term goals as a player?
Kjeldgaard: Short terms goals for me are pretty simple. I just try to take it day by day. I know if I can do that, everything will take care of itself by the end of the season.
RtB: And any long-term goals?
Kjeldgaard: As for long term goals, I think it is the same as everyone who plays at this level. To make it to the major leagues and stay there for a long time.
RtB: What was the experience of playing for Team Canada like?
Kjeldgaard: My experience last fall with Team Canada was something very special. Obviously our team performed very well, bringing home a bronze medal at the World Cup and a gold medal at the Pan Am Games. It was a special team put together, and has to be my most memorable experience playing baseball. Standing atop the podium in Mexico with Cuba to our left and the USA to our right has to be one of the proudest moments of my life.
RtB: After being drafted in the 34th round, how difficult has it been to become one of the top Brewers prospects despite being a late selection?
Kjeldgaard: It has been a long road since being drafted back in 2005. For me, it has been a little bit different road then most. There have been a lot of tough times, but also a lot of great times. I am very fortunate and thankful for getting a second shot in baseball after my pitching days.
RtB: Braun, Weeks, Hart, Gallardo, Gamel, Lucroy, and Axford all are “home grown” guys at the major league level. What does the plethora of talent on the Brewers from the farm system say about the organization as a whole?
Kjeldgaard: It says a lot about the organization. There’s even more guys down in the minor leagues who are on the verge of having very succesful major league careers, as well as all the players I have played with over the years that are playing for other teams.
RtB: On a completely unrelated note, you’re from Canada which is slightly known as a bit of a hockey country. Which team will you be pulling for during the NHL Playoffs starting this week?
Kjeldgaard: As I respond to these questions I am actually flipping back and forth watching some playoff hockey. My team is actually the St. Louis Blues, who have had a very strong season and hopefully can make a real strong push in the playoffs.
RtB: One last question: You have to come in and pinch hit against Zack Greinke, down by 1 with Kentrail Davis on first as the tying run. How do you approach the at-bat?
Kjeldgaard: No matter who the pitcher is, I try to approach each situation the same. I try to get a ball up in the zone, put a good swing on it and try to drive it into the gap.