We had a good chat with Gary Henderson, University of Kentucky head baseball coach, who was the pitching coach there when Andrew Albers was on the team.
Albers is one of four former Wildcats pitchers in the Twins organization -- Alex Meyer, Logan Darnell and Taylor Rogers are the others -- and Henderson had nothing but great things to say about his former player. The two had a strong bond during Albers' playing days; in 2011, as Albers was attempting to latch on with an MLB team after Tommy John surgery and playing in the Can-Am League, he stayed at Henderson's house for a couple weeks. That helped lead to the tryout with the Twins that led to his amazing 17.1 scoreless innings to start his career.
We'll have more on tomorrow's Page 2, but here is Henderson:
Did he think Albers would make it: "Keep in mind that I’m the same guy who coached David Eckstein in college (at Florida). Once you see that, you have tremendous confidence in kids. We had Collin Cowgill, a 5-9 right-handed hitting outfielder playing for the Angles right now. Once you see those types of personalities persevere and create careers for themselves, then you have more confidence than the guy with the stopwatch or the radar gun. For anybody to say an 86-88 mph guy is going to have a big league career, looking at the pure statistics of it, I’m not sure that’s genuine. But if you believe in kids like Cowgill, Eckstein and Albers, and you think there’s something extra there, then you think they can make it. Now, 17 1/3 scoreless? Come on."
What does Albers do well: “He does a lot of what we talk about here, which is nothing new in the world of baseball. Do your basics and do them really well. First-pitch strikes, switching sides of the plate, working right-handers in – and in off the plate with two strikes – and eliminating predictability. I was really proud of (Albers) with the first-pitch strikes. I don’t think anybody in the country emphasizes that as much as we do.”
What about his other former players with the Twins: “They all obviously throw harder than Andrew. Meyer has one of the biggest arms on the planet. Logan, if he continues to mature, has a very good chance to pitch in the big leagues. Alex will pitch in the big leagues. Taylor Rogers is guy we pitched on the weekends here for three years, and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t make it eventually.”