Ryan was recently in town and was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his experience playing baseball in high school, college, and now in the minor leagues. He is a great athlete who is very dedicated, he knows when to have fun while training and when to be serious. He has a great mind set that helped him overcome adversity on his way to being drafted by the San Francisco Giants.
Without further ado, here is the interview :
Let's start with a little background info.
I grew up in Des Plaines and played at Maine West High School. I suffered an injury my Junior year, which is an important recruiting year. But luckily, Coach Frado of Oakton Community College came to one of my games and saw me play. He liked what he saw and I decided that it would be a good fit and I could continue playing. I had a good freshman year, but during the beginning of my sophmore year I hurt my achilles tendon and decided to take a medical redshirt. After the injury I decided I needed something to push me to the next level.
You're clearly very dedicated, is this why you decided to start training?
Yes, I was 19 or 20 while I was playing at Oakton Community College. I started training because after my succesful Freshman year, Divison I and pro scouts were interested in me and I knew I still had room for improvement. I was never the strongest, fastest, or most powerful player but I was fundamentally consistent, a good hitter and fielder. My coach at Oakton knew Boone from SAA, as a baseball player and strength and conditioning coach. He wanted me to go there because they [SAA] have a lot of experience with strength and conditioning and helped other baseball players get to the next level. After my achilles tendon injury I started training at SAA during the off season.
After your free trial what made you choose to keep training at SAA?
Because SAA had the background not only in exercise science and baseball players themselves, but they also were strength and conditioning coaches for Division 1 baseball teams. The gym has everything you need, they have everything for speed, strength, and power development. I needed to get faster, bigger, and hit with more power. These guys knew how to get me there. That was 3 years ago, and I'm very happy I made that decision, the hard work paid off.
You've trained with some of the best strength coaches at West Virginia and the Giants minor league organization, what sets SAA apart from other training facilities?
The environment and the work ethic of the coaches. They have the knowledge to help me develop in the parts of the game that I needed to and wrote me workouts specifically to help me improve.
So you liked the environment and our coaching style. How did this help you develop as a baseball player?
I became more explosive during hitting. I could notice how the ball “jumped off the bat.” I felt quick fielding a ground ball and running. I could run much quicker starting out than I had been in the past. I was confident going into the West Virginia strength program, I was familiar with the movements and program, and in shape to fight for a position.
Ok, so you went from a not knowing if you would play after high school to playing at Oakton for two years, but that started off with an early injury. After rehabbing your achillies injury how did you end up playing for West Virginia to getting drafted by the Giants?
The next fall after rehabilitating my achillies and training at SAA, I had a really big season statistically, and our team [Oakton] was having a fall showcase where a bunch of schools saw me. West Virginia seemed like the best fit. So then I transferred to West Virginia as a junior and had a good year. The Big 12 conference had great competition with huge crowds, which I liked. Suddenly pro teams started giving me questionnaires to fill out. As time went on I was getting calls from different professional teams. I was actually playing a game at the time I was drafted…it was pretty cool. I was drafted in the 29th round to the San Francisco Giants. I went out to Arizona to play rookie ball for a couple weeks, then played a short season in Oregon. This year I was in Augusta playing A ball.
We have a lot of young baseball players aspiring to play at the next level, what are major league scouts and coaches looking for in a baseball player?
Tools. Most scouts and coaches are looking to see how you project as a player. Your body make up, size and height. The 5 main tools… hitting, fielding, throwing, running, and power. Almost every coach or scout is looking for these, they are looking for how you play now. One thing you can’t see is the drive and desire of the player.
Now that you've made it past college ball, what aspects of your career do you consider most important?
Now that I am more experienced, nutrition is huge. I have learned more about proper eating habits and recovery (especially sleep). As nutrition and recovery improve, the workouts improve, the practices improve, and your games improve. All these aspects are important especially at higher levels. To me it is personal. I take my career seriously and to succeed at this level, you need to eat, sleep, train, and take care of yourself. It’s a job. Being healthy is a big part of success. I want the advantage of knowing that I am doing everything I can to keep my job. If you really want to play baseball as a career you need to treat it as a job. You have to have the drive, hunger, and determination to do it. You need to develop and learn, make sacrifices in order to reach your goals.
Alright, that's all the questions I have. Thanks again for coming in early to do this.
No problem, it was my pleasure. Now let's go workout.