Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interview with Rafy Valenzuela


Rafael Valenzuela
Loving what I do and doing what I love

That kind of sums up Rafy Valenzuela in a nutshell.  He's one of those bigger than life personalities who seems to sweep everyone up in his wake.  I got in touch with Rafy so we could learn a little bit more about him.  But first, let's take a look at his time in the Astros minor-league system.

Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2010, Rafy split his first season between the Gulf Coast League Astros and hit .287/.333/.489/.822 over 50 games with 17 doubles, three triples and four home runs.  In 2011, he spent most of the season at Tri-City where he hit .316/.367/.456/.823 over 31 games with ten doubles and two home runs.  Now on to the questions ....

[Edited punctuation for readability only.  The words are all Rafy’s.]

WTH:  What have you been doing in the off-season?  I know you’ve been spending some time with your family and you seem very close.

RV:  This off-season I have been working out like a mad man (as you can tell by my dedicate a workout tweets) and hitting everyday and taking time to hangout with my friends and enjoy my family as much as possible.  [WTH: Rafy has dedicated his workouts to everything from baseball fans and actresses to Yaris drivers and Astros bloggers to “the person who decided to steal all my gloves during xmas break my last year at Arizona.”]

And yes, I have been spending a lot of time with my family and my family is really laid back.  We like to have family gatherings at our house, cookouts and things like that. My mom is by far the best the cook, next to my grandma that is. My father is an absolute baseball man.  That man can talk baseball everyday and every now and then he pulls out the video camera and we sit down and go over my hitting and things like that. Finally, my sisters are the most supportive people on the face of the earth. Both of them have been behind me since I can remember. And well I can't forget about my grandma who is by far my biggest fan. She goes over to my house everyday during season and sits down on the computer and makes sure that she doesn't miss a single play.

WTH:  You were drafted by Kansas City in 2006 and didn't sign.  Do you ever regret that?

RV:  I do not regret not signing. I have been happy with my decision. I had a chance to go play college ball at THE (yes THE) University of Arizona which is one of the best baseball programs in the country and had a chance to grow not only as player but as person as well.

WTH:  What position did you play with the Wildcats?  Any special memories of your time there?

RV:  At Arizona I went in as a short stop, believe it or not. Back when I was a tiny little guy. Then I ended up being a utility guy there too. I liked being the utility guy simply because I was able to play a lot and I love playing everywhere as well.

For the best memory - just being able to wear the Arizona Jersey and playing in front of family and friends. Also, having 3 walk off hits and one against Arizona State during senior night my sophomore year in front of a sell out crowd. 

WTH: Did you finish your degree at the University of Arizona before you were signed as a free agent by the Astros?  If so, what was your degree in?

RV:  Yes, I did have a chance to finish my degree at Arizona and I received my degree in Communications with a minor in Spanish.

WTH:  In Tri-City this season, you didn't get as many AB's and your power numbers were down a little (although your average and OBP were up).  Were there any injury issues?

RV:  I got hurt during spring training and had surgery on my hand. I am not making any excuses for my power numbers, but I just was never really comfortable swinging the bat that much so I guess that's why my power numbers were down.  I was still able to help my team out so I am still very happy about that.

WTH:  You played a lot of DH, as well as 1B, 3B, RF and LF in 2011.  What position are you most comfortable with?  Do you like being a DH?

RV:  Personally, I like to play everywhere. As you might be able to tell I am a very random person. I like to be everywhere. And to be honest with you I feel comfortable anywhere on a baseball diamond, except the bench that is.  It is the one place where I feel like I can't be touched, like I can do whatever I want, where I forget about everything that is going on in my personal life and just try to play the game as best as possible.

WTH:  You’ve been tweeting a lot about the Obregon team in the Mexican Pacific League lately.  Can you tell me a little about that?

RV:  I was drafted last season (2011) by the Yaquis de Obregon and I had a chance to go down there and practice with them and play some games with them and this season my dad and I went to go watch them play once in a while during the weekend because Obregon is really close to my hometown in Arizona.  … my dad and I became really close with the owners of the club so we go out there watch them play once in a while and well I am pulling for them during the post- season. GO YAQUIS!!!

WTH:  When I follow the players on twitter, particularly those who tweet a lot, I feel like I get to know them. I think your motto in life is: Vive la vida al maximo.  Am I close?

RV:  Haha, You might be a bit close. I just enjoy what I do and I don't take it for granted. I like to live life one day at a time but I also like to make each day count. I like to feel like I accomplished something each day that the Lord gives me.

WTH:  Final question (a silly one).  Pro-Tebow, Anti-Tebow or Don't Care?

RV:  HAHA, Tebow..... well... He might not be my favorite player, but I do respect what he has done and I like the fact that he keeps doing what he is doing and quieting all of his critics. So I guess you can say I am pro-Tebow... But I like to think that I'm just neutral about the situation, if that even makes sense... haha.

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