Interview with pitching prospect, Kurt Heyer

A picture of Kurt from his days as an Arizona Wildcat - Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

Viva El Birdos interviewed Kurt Heyer, the sixth round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. Last year, he saw time in Peoria (Low-A) and Palm Beach (High-A). Based on a solid spring, my early projections have him as part of the Springfield Cardinals (Double-A) rotation to start out 2014.

St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect, Kurt Heyer, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Heyer was a team captain of the 2012 NCAA Champion Arizona Wildcats. While at Arizona, Heyer played with Alex Mejia, another member of the Cardinals farm system. Not surprisingly, both were named second-team All-Americans by Baseball America in 2012 as well.

Before we get into his minor league numbers and of course the interview, let's go over a few things every fan should know about Heyer. His college coach, Andy Lopez, described him as "such a character" that "if you didn't know better, you'd say he was left-handed." This actually makes sense: Heyer threw left-handed until he was eight or nine years old.

Due to his participation in the 2012 College World Series, Heyer saw limited action with the Cardinals after the draft—pitching just six innings between the Gulf Coast League Cardinals and the Batavia Muckdogs. He started 2013 in Peoria (A) but was promoted to Palm Beach (A+) after eight starts. He had a somewhat rough start in Palm Beach, but he seemed to turn things around starting with his seven inning outing on June 29th in which he allowed just two hits and zero earned runs. His 2013 numbers are included in the table below:

Team

G

GS

IP

LOB%

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

Peoria (A)

8

8

39.2

75.2%

7.94

2.72

3.40

3.00

Palm Beach (A+)

15

14

84.1

72.7%

6.51

2.35

3.42

3.79

Let’s start out with some funny ones to help break the ice for this interview...

Viva El Birdos: What is your nickname history, and which is your favorite?

Kurt Heyer: Here is a little timeline:

Kurtnicknames_medium

VEB: Do you intend on drilling Yasiel Puig the first time you face him in the majors?

KH: I don’t intend on drilling him, but I will strike him out looking.

VEB: What’s your favorite baseball movie and why?

KH: I love the movie Bull Durham cause it’s funny as hell and shows what minor league ball is like.

VEB: Tell us about your middle name (Wolfgang), please!

KH: When I was born, I was pretty hairy and I still am, so my mom called me Wolfgang.

VEB: Kurt, would you ever consider switching the "K" for a "C"?

KH: Maybe switching it for a backwards K instead of a regular K.

VEB: In short, who are you, and why should VEB readers care?!

KH: I am a hardworking player with something to prove to everyone. Also, I love interacting with fans because they show the same passion and respect for the game, as well as the Cardinals.

Moving on to the business questions…

VEB: What are your goals for this year?

KH: Of course making it to the big leagues, but I am trying to fine tune all my pitches so I am in a position to help the club any way I can.

VEB: Do you think sabermetrics have a role in pitching or coaching pitching?

KH: I believe so, it keeps us updated on what we need to improve on, and I am a bit of a stat rat already. It also keeps things in perspective for me as I move forward to better myself.

VEB: Who taught you that funky pitching delivery? Do you think it gives you an edge?

KH: I am surprised that people still think I have a weird delivery. I have taken bits and pieces from past coaches and molded it to something that could maximize my success as a pitcher.

VEB: What’s your go-to pitch? Have you been working on anything new for your repertoire?

KH: My go to pitch is my fastball. I change speeds with it when necessary. I have been working on my changeup, and I’m developing a cutter to balance out my repertoire.

VEB: What has been your single favorite moment from the minors?

KH: I have so many from participating in stand offs to getting pied in the face, so it’s hard to say. Hopefully this year will be even better.

VEB: Which teammate have you learned from most thus far?

KH: I have learned a lot from my teammates, but Joe Cuda helped me with my mental toughness and pitching approach towards the end of the year.

VEB: Who has been your favorite coach in the system thus far?

KH: I have liked all my coaches but one who has stood out was my pitching coach from Peoria, Jason Simontacchi. He taught me a lot about throwing my changeup more and utilizing my other pitches. Also he has a lot of funny stories.

VEB: What are the Cardinals’ guidelines for social media use by minor leaguers?

KH: We are allowed to use social media. We are not to bad-mouth our teammates or the Cardinal organization. I always try to respect others and stay humble.

VEB: The Cardinals obviously have great pitching depth. As a pitcher looking to make the big leagues someday, how do you view this situation? i.e. Do you use it as fuel for competition?

KH: I see it as a challenge, and I’m ready to make a push towards helping the organization win their championship. They do an amazing job at developing players, and I am confident that they will help get me where I need to be. Competition is my fuel, and it’s been that way my entire life.

Is Heyer's future in the starting rotation or the bullpen? It remains to be seen, but this is what Farm Director, John Vuch, had to say about him in an interview with CardinalsFarm last summer:

"Heyer has done well as a starter, and I’ve also seen times where his velocity will spike in short bursts, so it’s not far-fetched to also see him being a guy who could turn into a guy like Blazek, Fornataro, Siegrist et al who might throw even harder coming out of the pen. Short answer is that there’s no imminent plans to move him, but hard to say what the future would bring."

We thank Kurt for such a quality interview and wish him the best in the 2014 season. Based on past coaches and his answers to the fun questions, it appears Kurt may have a little Joe Kelly in him. Because of this, I see Kurt as a future fan favorite once he makes his way to St. Louis.

You can follow Kurt on Twitter: @KurtHeyer

His 23rd birthday is tomorrow (January 23rd). If you have a Twitter account, feel free to send a birthday message his way!

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