Friday, June 5, 2015

Getting to Know Astros/JetHawks LHP Albert Minnis

LHP Albert Minnis got off to a good start this season. In six bullpen appearances for Quad Cities, he had a 0.00 ERA and a 0.522 WHIP, leading to his early May promotion to High A Lancaster. For the season he now has a 2.78 ERA and a 1.015 WHIP in 17 appearances.

And, although Minnis has been used mostly as a late inning reliever, he has shown himself to have the flexibility to handle middle relief and long relief (most notably pitching 3.1 innings in a recent extra inning game and getting the win) as well. He has held lefties to a very stingy .156 batting average so far this season, but has also held right-handed bats to a very respectable .212 average, demonstrating that there is no need to pigeonhole him as a LOOGY. He has also largely avoided the long ball in his career, allowing only two home runs in 84 innings of work, none so far this season.

When I spoke with Lancaster Pitching Coach Don Alexander recently, he told me what he likes about Minnis, "He's got a nice mix of pitches. He's aggressive. He shows no fear on the mound. He's going to come after you and we're going to play baseball. I love (those) guys, especially relievers, like that. They come in and they're not afraid to challenge you and work in the strike zone. I think he's got a chance to be pretty good too. He's got a chance to be pretty nasty."

Albert Minnis - May 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Minnis was drafted by the Astros in the 25th round in 2013 out of Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. We spoke late last month for the first time ...

As is usually the case with a pitcher I haven't talked to before, my first question relates to the player's pitch arsenal. Minnis told me that he throws a 2-seam sinker, 4-seam fastball, changeup and slider. "I'm working on all of them, though," said Minnis. "I think my 2-seam fastball is my best pitch. I've been throwing it longer." As to velocity and movement on that pitch, he said, "I think it ranges right around 90, somewhere around there. Just sinks and tails. Hopefully get ground balls with it is my main goal."

As to what Minnis has accomplished so far this season, he said, "Just kind of maturing as a pitcher, not getting too high, not getting too low throughout the season. Just knowing what a full season is like after having my first one last year. Just going out there, pitching and giving your team the best chance to win. If you do that, everything evens out over the season."

In order to get to the next level of his development, Minnis said, "Definitely just be more consistent day in and day out, just try to be the same guy every time you go out there. Just try to be the same guy day in and day out so the manager knows who they're going to get when you go out there."

For any one who has never seen Minnis pitch before, what can they expect to see? According to Minnis, "They're going to see me compete. I go out there and I try to go after guys. That's what baseball is, going after the other guy and hopefully you can beat him. So I think the one thing you would see is just me competing out there. That's the one thing you can control is how you approach the game. Everything else is out of your control."

Who in the Astros system has a pitch he would like to steal? "I would probably have to say, in honor of his big league debut, Lance McCullers' breaking ball. It's getting a lot of publicity right now so I'd probably say that pitch." As to what Astros hitter he would least like to face, Minnis said, "I'd probably have to go with George Springer. I'm working on getting right-handers out and he's probably the most prolific right-handed guy we've got in the organization."

If Minnis wasn't playing baseball, he told me what his top priorities would be, "I'd definitely go back to the Midwest and I'd get a dog right away. Being on the road all the time, you can't have a dog. So I'd definitely get a dog would be the first thing, and then I have about a year and a half of school left so I'd go back to school. Once I get my degree (in Sports Management), I'd get a job and try to live life to the fullest in the Midwest."

When asked to tell me a random, little known fact about himself, Minnis talked of his two younger sisters, telling me, "My youngest sister, Adrienne, we share the same birthday (and) we're right at seven years apart so I got to spend my seventh birthday in the hospital."

A well known fact (for anyone who follows Minnis on twitter) is his extreme fandom for the Kansas City Chiefs. When I asked him how his team was going to do this year, Minnis became very animated, "I'm going with an AFC West title. I'm going out on a limb here. I think that the Chiefs are going to be sleepers, kind of like what the Royals did last year. I'm calling the same thing in football for Kansas City this year!"

Thank you for your time, Albert. It was a pleasure getting to know you just a little bit better. Best of luck as the season continues.

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Other recent interviews:
1B Jon Singleton
LHP Bryan Radziewski
1B A.J. Reed
RHP Joe Musgrove
3B J.D. Davis

You can find more on virtually every player in the Astros minor league system in the 2015 Houston Farm System Handbook available on Amazon for download to your kindle, iPad, laptop, desktop or smart phone.

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