Drafted 28th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, left-handed starting pitcher Rob Kaminsky has already enjoyed a considerable amount of success at the minor league level. In fact, as mentioned above (in the article summary), Eric went as far as naming him the Future Redbirds pitcher of the year for 2014—just his first full season of professional ball. This is no small feat considering Sam Tuivailala, Chris Perry, and Alex Reyes (among others) were all well qualified candidates for the honor.
Let's take a look at his 2014 numbers and then see what he had to say about his year and what we can expect in the future:
Viva El Birdos: Overall, how do you think your first full professional season went?
Rob Kaminsky: Thanks for having me. My first season went well, I learned a lot and asked a lot of questions. Overall, it was a great learning experience for me and couldn't thank all involved enough.
VEB: What was your biggest area of improvement while with Peoria?
RK: I think the mental side of the game was something I improved on throughout the year. Fastball command and changeup consistency got better as well. Simo really helped me with my changeup and the mental side of the game. Not everyone has the privilege to be around an ex big leaguer daily, so I took full advantage of it.
VEB: What specifically can you improve on this offseason?
RK: There are a lot of things to improve on. Fastball command is something that can always improve. I’d like to get my curveball back to what it was, and much more consistent. I just want to continue to learn the game and continue to develop.
VEB: What are your expectations for 2015? Ideally, which level would you like to see yourself in by the end?
RK: All I can tell you is that I’m working harder than I ever have and cannot wait for the season to begin.
VEB: How do you feel your changeup is in its development?
RK: I think it’s coming along. Last year it took a few jumps for me but was not nearly where I want it to be. Right now, in my long toss and side work, it is coming along nice.
VEB: Who has the better curveball, Alex Reyes or Rob Kaminsky?
RK: That’s a question you need to ask some of the hitters we faced while in Peoria. Alex is a great teammate and has some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen. I look forward to progressing along with another New Jersey kid.
VEB: If given a non-roster invite to spring training, which player would you most seek out for advice? What questions would you ask?
RK: I ask a lot of questions. I’d be asking a lot of questions to all the guys. I’d love to talk to any of the big league guys about what they know, and what they’ve seen.
VEB: Give us the scouting report on Rob Kaminsky from a hitter's perspective.
RK: That’s tough. I’d consider myself a power guy who loves to compete on the mound and will do anything to win. I don't want any hitter to be comfortable in the box against me.
VEB: What would your response be to those who believe you are "too small" to be a starting pitcher at the big league level?
RK: I’ve been hearing that for a while now. I don't pay much mind to it. It’s just another chip on my shoulder and adds fuel to the fire. Until there is a height restriction on how tall you must be in order to get hitters out, I do not care about what others say regarding my height.
VEB: I’ve seen Instagram photos of you working out with some other Cardinals minor leaguers this offseason, who set that up and how competitive was it?
RK: I’ve been going to Next Generation in Wyckoff, NJ for the last 4-5 years. The trainer there is awesome. Rich Mejias is the guy who helps me a lot with my strength and conditioning, as well as Jared Fostieri. The Cardinals also set up a great off season workout plan. We have a few minor leaguers in there, about 10 guys who all work out together. It’s a great environment. Competitive is an understatement.
VEB: What will you miss most about playing in Peoria?
RK: I loved the stadium. The stadium and the fans were great.
VEB: What is one piece of advice you received from Jason Simontacchi that will stick with you for the rest of your career?
RK: Enjoy the ride and bring it every single day. Take no things for granted. Thanks for having me, much appreciated!
I'm looking forward to 2015 as I'm of the belief that the Cardinals are going to push the 20 year old lefty up the developmental ladder a little bit. The success he enjoyed for much of last season is obviously a great start, but I think members of the front office, particularly Gary LaRocque and Chris Correa, anxiously want to see what he can do at higher levels, especially leagues that tend to favor hitters. I thank Rob for taking the time to give us his thoughts and hope the next time we speak with him will be when he is even closer to the big league level.