Tuesday, March 8, 2016

From Minnesota To The Show

When it comes to thinking of baseball talent hotbeds, Minnesota probably isn't high on the list. The state deals with cold weather and snow from the better (or worse) half of the year. Regardless of Twins Territory being a passionate grouping of Major League fans, the high school scene doesn't draw as much national attention. There are the outliers however; the Joe Mauer's, Paul Molitor's, and Logan Shore.

Sure, Shore isn't yet on the level of a Hall of Famer, and another guy with the potential to reach that rank. What he is however, is a kid from Coon Rapids (a northern suburb of Minneapolis), that has vaulted onto the national stage. Initially drafted by the Twins in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB draft (due to his strong commitment to the University of Florida), Shore did in fact follow through and head to Gainesville.

Now a Junior for the #1 ranked Gators, Shore has planted himself atop many draft boards. Through his first three starts, Shore owns a 0.43 ERA giving up just eight hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out 22 in 21.0 innings. He's got a complete game shutout under his belt, and he's been the nation's most unhittable pitcher.

In between dominating starts for Florida, I had the opportunity to interview Shore. We talked about his college experience, baseball, and what's to come.

Off The Baggy: Having been the Friday starter since almost day one with the Gators, how has your approach to the way you have pitched changed and evolved over your time at Florida?

Logan Shore: I think the approach I have has not changed a whole lot of freshman year to junior year. I have always had the approach of attacking hitters with my pitches and I think if anything has changed it would be that I try to pitch more aggressively now. Coach O’Sullivan does a tremendous job of teaching us how to pitch and helping us understand the mental side of pitching.

OTB: Tell me about your arsenal on the mound, what pitches you feel you utilize best, and what you feel most comfortable using to attack opposing hitters?

LS: I have a three-pitch mix. I throw a fastball, changeup and a slider. My best pitch besides my fastball is my changeup and I feel comfortable throwing that in any count.

OTB: Having been dominant in high school for Coon Rapids, what was the biggest change to your game pitching at the collegiate level?

LS: I think that the biggest difference and change from pitching at Coon Rapids High School to pitching in the SEC is that anyone in the SEC can hurt you. I have learned that I have to make quality pitches to every hitter in the lineup and learned that I need my two off-speed pitches to get people out, and not just my fastball.

OTB: Being drafted by the Twins out of high school and instead choosing to go to college, what do you feel has been the biggest improvement in your game since that time?

LS: I think that the biggest thing that I have improved on is my third pitch, which is my slider. I have always been a fastball/change-up pitcher, but utilizing my slider and truly having a three-pitch mix has been my biggest improvement. Also, having the experience of pitching on Friday nights in the SEC has given me confidence moving forward.

OTB: Looking ahead to the upcoming draft, what do you see as the biggest area of focus to elevate your game to the big league level.

LS: The biggest area of focus for me right now is to get the Gators back to Omaha and win a national championship. After coming so close in 2015 and getting a taste of what it takes to win in in the postseason, I am excited to be a part of such a special team in 2016. As far as the draft goes, I try to not think about it very much. Obviously it is there, and it will be there in June, but I feel the more I, along with the other guys on my team, are focused on winning, the better the draft process will play out for myself and everyone else.

OTB: Pitching in the SEC has no doubt seen you go up against some of the games best. Battling with 2015 top draft picks Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman is solid preparation for the pro game. What helps you face, and ultimately succeed, against hitters of their caliber?

LS: Facing guys like Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman is difficult. The one thing that I do to prepare to face guys of this caliber is know who they are as hitters and pitch to my strengths. I watch a lot of video and do a lot of homework before each start to learn who I am facing, and have a plan of how I want to attack each hitter. The one thing I can always control is how I prepare, and I feel that if I prepare and stay true to my routine the game will take care of itself.

OTB: Finally, as a hometown kid, the storybook ending would no doubt be a second selection by the Twins. Envisioning the draft experience as a whole however, what excites you most about the process this time around?
LS: I am excited to have an opportunity to potentially be selected by a team in the MLB Draft. It has always been a dream of mine to play professional baseball. Being drafted by the Twins would be an extra bonus on top of that. It is a long season, and a lot still to be done, but I am excited to see what happens.

No doubt Logan is focused in the right areas. Working to get back to Omaha, helping the Gators to a 12-1 record to start the year is a great place to be. The winning has come, and as Florida gets into SEC play, Shore will be a catalyst in helping it continue. Focus and determination are equally as important as talent, and for Shore, the trifecta is there.

Likely a first round selection in Major League Baseball's June Draft, Minnesota picking 15th will be clued in on the hometown talent. Regardless of where he goes, success is sure to follow Shore.

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