Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Q & A with Reds top pick Nick Travieso

With their first pick in the 2012 Amateur Draft (14th overall), the Reds tabbed RHP Nick Travieso out of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Although previously committed to play his college ball at the University of Miami, the 18-year old inked a deal with the Reds less than two weeks later to officially begin his pro career with Cincinnati. Nick is currently a member of the AZL Reds.

Named as a Rawlings 1st Team All-American and the Gatorade Player of the Year for Florida after his senior season at Archbishop, the 18-year old boasts a fastball that hovers in the mid-90s range and has been clocked as high as 99 MPH earlier this year. He has many around the organization and baseball world alike buzzing about his potential, and he was gracious enough to sit down with us recently for the following Q & A session.

A huge thanks to the right-hander for fielding these questions like a champ:

RR: Take us through the time when you first learned you were drafted by the Reds. How did you find out? Who were you with? What was your initial reaction?

NT: Leading up to the draft, I honestly had no clue what was going to happen. I had heard positive feedback from scouts and what not but I never got my hopes up. On draft day, everything was still up in the air. My family and I gathered up a few close friends and some of my teammates from my high school team to watch the draft. About a minute or so before the Reds picked, I got the call that they agreed upon selecting me as their first pick in the 2012 draft. I was speechless. Words cant describe how happy and proud I was at that moment. It was easily the best feeling I've felt to this day.

RR: Who were some of your favorite players growing up and why? Did you have any particular team(s) you rooted for?

NT: Growing up I was a Yankee fan but mostly a huge [Roger] Clemens fan. I loved his demeanor on the mound and how he didn't take anything from anybody. I still idolize him to this day and he will always be my guy.

RR: You pitched in only 18 innings as a junior at Archbishop McCarthy, but saw a huge increase in workload during your senior campaign (65 IP, 8-1, 0.76 ERA, 100 K). Did you do anything different during the offseason between those two years? Or was it more or less just your body and skills developing naturally?

NT: I wish I could say it was easy to transform from a closer to a started but if I did I would be lying. Training my arm and body to withstand all the throwing was difficult. I went from throwing 1-2 innings a week to throwing 6-7 a game. It was an every day process of getting to the field and throwing long toss and conditioning just to gain stamina. I hardly ever threw out of the wind-up throughout my high school career and now all of a sudden I would have to get used to it ever time I pitched. I would say the hardest part was fighting through the soreness of my arm from all the constant throwing that seemed to never end. But at the end of every day I knew that the work I had put in would help me reach my ultimate goal of getting drafted and playing professional baseball.

RR: What's the average day like for a minor leaguer? Take us through one (short-version).

NT: I usually start my day off by arriving at the field around 1pm for a nice lunch spread set up by the Reds' cooking staff. Breakfast is hard to come by due to rough sleeping habits. After lunch we usually have some time to either get in a lift or relax in the locker room for a bit before heading out to the field. Hitters go out for early stretch and then the real athletes (The Pitchers) go out after and stretch, go through our throwing program, condition, do some kind of team fundamentals or pitching work and then we go out and shag some BP where the Willie Mays comes out of us for some sports center Top 10 plays out there. After batting practice we head in for a light snack and a shower then get ready for our game that night. The games usually end around 10 or so and we get back in, shower then catch the band back to our hotel and knock out around midnight every night.

RR: Who is the best player you have ever played against?

NT: That's a tough question. I've played against a bunch of top quality players throughout my career but I would have to say Albert Almora probably leads that list. I grew up playing with and against him and he just leaves everything on the field every single game. He's not easy to pitch to and makes anyone pay if you make a mistake. But if I'm not mistaken the last time I threw against him I got him swinging on a slider in the dirt back in 16U USA trials! Haha. I respect him and always hope for the best in his career.

RR: If you weren't playing professional baseball for a living, what would you be doing instead? Why?

NT: I would either be a professional hockey player because I grew up playing hockey and I had the size and talent to keep playing, or I would be working in a big league stadium part of the grounds crew team raking up the field and making it look perfect. I don't know what it is but I love making the mound and infield in the best shape possible. Last year in high school, I was the John Deere driver after every game and I wouldn't leave till the field looked at its best. There were some days that I would leave class early just to go to the field and fix up the mound for a game that night.

RR: If you had to compare your game to one major leaguer, current or retired, who would it be and why?

NT: I'd still have to go with my man Clemens on this one. He was the Rocket and thats who I wanted to be. When I was younger I copied his mechanics exactly the way he had them and I still watch his videos to critique my mechanics every now and then.

RR: What do you like to do in your spare time? Anything out of the ordinary?

NT: I mean I'd like to say I'm a normal teen just relaxing on my spare time. Hitting up the beach every now and then and just kicking it with friends and fam. The only thing out of the ordinary that I like to do is go to the hockey rink on the weekends and get in a nice work out with my dad for a few hours just to keep my body fluid when I'm not playing ball. Gretzky better watch out! Ha!

RR: Do you have a favorite quote to live by? If so, do you care to share?

NT: My quote I like to live by has been around and the words have been changed a bit throughout time but still has the same meaning.

"What sets you apart from the next guy is what you do when no one is watching."

I feel like this in a way defines me. I'm the type of guy who doesn't like to settle just being good. I want to be great. If I don't feel satisfied with my work one day, I'll go that night and either get a workout in or just work on my game to get better no matter what time it is.

RR: Let's say the Mayans were right and the world as we know it really does end in 2012. What would your final meal be...most likely your favorite, right?

NT: I'd definitely be at my abuelas apartment eating a nice plate of rice and with some nice ground beef with crackers.. The Cuban way. She just loves cooking everyday for my family and I'd take her food over any food in the world.

RR: What's your favorite movie of all-time? Favorite singer/band? Favorite super hero? Celebrity crush?

NT: Favorite movie is easily Happy Gilmore. I know every single word from beginning to end. Everyone hates watching it with me because they say I ruin it but either way I watch it alone if I have to. Favorite artist would probably be Kaskade. He is a pretty famous DJ who plays some amazing house music that can get me pumped before a big game or just get me going when I'm jamming in the car.

I never really had a favorite super hero growing up. If Wild Thing from "Major League" could be considered a super hero then I'd probably go with him. My celebrity crush is Mila Kunis from "Friends with Benefits" and also "Ted". I think she is absolutely gorgeous!

RR: What's one thing that Reds fans should know about you that they may not already know?

NT: I take my game serious and all and I love competing. But off the field I'm really just a laid back 18 year old kid trying to enjoy my life and taking it one day at a time. Not many kids my age get the opportunity to play professional baseball and I intend on making the best out of what God has blessed me with. I love the sport and I love playing the game the right way. I hope to have a healthy career and one day make it out to Great American Ballpark pitching in the Reds uniform in front of all you fans.

Another thanks goes to Nick for taking the time to do this around his busy schedule. He joins a whole host of other talented arms in the farm system (Daniel Corcino, Tony Cingrani, Robert Stephenson) who look poised to break into the big club's rotation in the years to come.

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