*Interview with Tyrell Jenkins (plus signed hat giveaway!)

Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

"Seriously, I'm so ready to be back," Tyrell Jenkins.

In the 2010 MLB Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Tyrell Jenkins with their supplemental first round pick (50th overall). Given the fact that he had already signed a letter of intent to play quarterback as well as baseball at Baylor University, it required a pretty hefty signing bonus ($1.3 million) to convince him to forego his college experience. He was widely considered the most athletic pitcher of his draft class and was listed as Baseball Prospectus' #94 prospect prior to the 2013 season.

Jenkins' Player Profile:

  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6'4"
  • Weight: 221 pounds
  • Born: July 20, 1992 (Age 21)
  • High School: Henderson HS

Repertoire: from Tyrell's personal perspective

  • Fourseam fastball: 92-97 MPH
  • Twoseam fastball: 93-95 MPH
  • Changeup: 83-85 MPH
  • Curveball: Hard, sharp break; varying velocities
  • "Money" pitch: Twoseam, especially in double-play situations or if he really needs a strike

Minor League Statistics:

YEAR

LEVEL

G

GS

IP

BABIP

LOB%

K%

BB%

ERA

FIP

2011

Rk

11

11

56.0

.373

61.5%

23.4%

5.5%

3.86

2.79

2012

A

19

19

82.1

.336

60.3%

22.3%

10.0%

5.14

3.47

2013

A

10

10

49.1

.303

68.2%

15.6%

11.0%

4.74

4.40

2013

A+

3

3

10.0

.361

57.1%

14.0%

2.3%

4.50

2.30

Flashing His Potential:

According to CardinalsFarm (and with a little input from this guy named stlCupofJoe prior to joining VEB), Jenkins had the #2 pitching performance in the Cardinals farm system last season. The start occurred on May 5th, and he was with Low-A Peoria at the time. The Chiefs beat the Fort Wayne Tin Caps 1-0 behind a dominant 97-pitch shutout from Jenkins. He allowed just three hits and one walk while recording five strikeouts. This start was easily the highlight of Jenkins' 2013, who was later shut down for the season with a shoulder (latissimus dorsi) injury that required surgery.

Interview:

VEB: Describe your favorite fast food restaurant’s best dish in a romantic fashion.

TJ: Ten-piece nugget from Micky D’s. Ten golden crispy nuggets in a quality cardboard rectangular box which is easily reusable. With a super-sized order of their golden salted fries that taste like heaven in my hands. With a large Dr. Pepper filled with all 23 flavors. And last, but not least, topping it off with three packets of their tangy hot mustard.

VEB: Is there a particular pitcher that you emulate your approach after?

TJ: For sure Waino. I have his number and any question I have, he’s quick to answer. I see him as a father I never had. He’s mentally helped me on the field and spiritually off the field in my walk with Christ. He’s always been there for me. There’s a reason he’s our leader.

VEB: What kind of non-baseball activities do you do over the offseason?

TJ: I play a lot of Madden. I spend a lot of quality time with my family and gained about 15 pounds eating. Haha, most of my offseason was spend in Florida rehabbing my shoulder.

VEB: What’s one thing you would like to improve upon as a pitcher going forward with your career?

TJ: First and foremost, staying healthy. I’ve been battling through injuries the past two years and nobody knew. I’ll never make an excuse for myself. I know if I put in the preparation, which I have, the results shall come. So, the one thing I would like to improve is my health and durability.

VEB: What drill or workout did you dislike most (in any sport) growing up?

TJ: Suicides of any kind. It didn’t matter whether it was on the football or baseball field, or the basketball court. I hated running those because I always had to be in first or we’d have to go again, haha.

VEB: In your opinion, what is the nicest minor league park?

TJ: Dayton was probably the nicest field I’ve ever been on. They have $1.3 million grass! Haha, great atmosphere at that place!

VEB: What are your thoughts on shortening the game to seven innings?

TJ: Keep the game at its current length. Too many rule changes being made that aren’t needed. Seven innings would mean the bullpen would never be used.

VEB: Outside of baseball, what is your favorite sport to play?

TJ: Well, besides football, haha, it has to be golf. I would play every day till I died if I could. I’ve only been playing for three years, but I’m getting the hang of it and absolutely love it!

VEB: How is shoulder recovery going? What’s a timetable on your return to live action?

TJ: Recovery has been great so far. First live action will be Tuesday (note: I exchanged questions with him prior to Tuesday, see below*) and then again on Saturday. I have about 4-6 weeks left of rehab. Then, I will most likely start in Palm Beach. We tightened up my mechanics, and everything is so much more fluid now. It’s going to be a very good year. I can’t wait to prove a lot of people wrong.

VEB: What’s one thing you would like to tell Cardinals fans going into the season?

TJ: Don’t give up on me. I will give the fans what they deserve, and that’s me being in the "bigs" helping bring another championship to the Lou.

*Follow-Up:

I checked in with Jenkins to see how things went on Tuesday. He said he threw 20 pitches (all fastballs) from the mound to live hitters. He felt "very very good," and he plans on throwing again tomorrow. I will do my best to keep you all posted on his progress as he nears his return to game action.

You can find him on Twitter: @TyrellJenkins14

I will add a photo of the signed hat as soon as I receive it from Tyrell. In the meantime, enter your VEB username in the Google Form below, and a random winner will be selected sometime next week. Thanks!

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