On Sunday, I had an opportunity to interview Blue Jays pitching prospect Adam Kloffenstein. The 19-year old comes off as a very good storyteller, but more so, he is a very level headed and determined baseball player. Here is a summary of our conversation.
Dave Corcoran: Leading up to the draft, had you spoken with many teams?
Adam Kloffenstein: About six months leading up to the draft I had conversations with all 30 teams, some of the teams I had a few more conversations than others.
DC: Did you start to have a feeling leading up to the draft if you were going to go to Texas Christian or sign with a major league club?
AK: I was prepared to go to College, but the closer we got to the draft the more that I thought it was a shot to play go pro but I was still leaning towards College.
DC: How often do you and Jordan (Groshans) have to answer questions about your friendship?
AK: We both get asked that quite a lot, but we both cherish the opportunity to talk about it because it is a unique situation. We always talked about getting drafted, but it never even crossed our minds to get drafted to the same team.
DC: When did you guys become friends?
AK: We became friends around the sixth grade and we were playing against each other. He moved from Dallas during High School which was when we started playing both school and summer baseball together. Our friendship naturally multiplied because we were always together.
DC: What was the biggest difference between High School baseball and Professional baseball?
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AK: In Pro ball that is what it is, everything is baseball, everything I do each day is for baseball. In High School, you would play baseball and have a social life away from baseball, but now everything I do, each day is to make yourself better at baseball. You have a social life which is typically always with guys from the team and you are always talking and analyzing the game. Always trying to help each other and figure out how to get better. Every employee is working at trying to make you the best baseball player possible.
DC: What was your daily routine last year?
AK: I usually got up around 9:00 AM have breakfast. My wonderful host Janna would make up whatever I wanted, she was amazing. She would take me to the field around 1:00 PM and I would usually get a lift (workout) in. I’d then work on different drills that I needed improvements on and then go shag BP (batting practice) and work on conditioning. I’d then work towards my next start, figure out who the opponent was and what I needed to do against that team. I’d talk to teammates that had faced our next opponents to find out their weaknesses.
Later, Kloffenstein would go back and explain how grateful he was to his hosts Janna and Bill. He mentioned his mom came to stay one night with them and was very happy where I got to stay. He mentioned the same host parents had previously had (T.J.) Zeuch, (Aaron) Sanchez and (Noah) Syndergaard stay with them. He stated he’d hope one day he would be another major league name they can add to the list. He promised them two tickets to my major league debut.
DC: Were there any players that you gravitated to for advice or as leaders on Vancouver last year?
AK: He wasn’t there all season but Alek Manoah was great to learn from. He was on top of the world when he came and just great to chat with. I tend to gravitate to pitchers and catchers so Phil Clarke was another guy, he’s a National Champ so he’s great to learn from. I talked a lot with the College guys because they faced most of the guys I was going up against. I never faced a lot of the hitters because I was a couple of years younger and right from High School.
He wasn’t a player, but my pitching coach Demetre Kokoris is a great leader. He was really good to talk to, he never talked at me it was always a conversation, Demetre is such a good teacher and made it easy to learn. He let me learn my own style and didn’t try to mold me. I never felt like he was trying to make a name for himself molding me. He felt more like a partner than a coach.
DC: Did you have your parents around you very much during the season?
AK: I am an only child and my dad retired just over a year ago and my mom used to be a registered nurse and now she is a school nurse so they were able to come out for two weeks and they drove out for a few days when we played in Everett. My dad was able to come out to the All-Star Game and for 2-3 weeks during the season. My parents watch all of my games on the MiLB app, so it is not like I have to explain my game to them because they watched it. My parents have always watched all my games ever since I was little.
My dad’s best friend lives less than a mile from Dunedin, that helps right now, I get to see his friend all the time. The older guys I play with keep telling me to embrace it because some of the other guys don’t have that opportunity. I am very blessed. This is still so cool, it’s two years in and still amazing. Seeing my parents so happy helps push me, I don’t think they even know. It is so important to me, my parents are great. This season my mom will see some time this spring training during her Spring Break. My dad will stay with his friend and can pretty much stay as long as he wants.
DC: For young kids that are wanting to follow in your footsteps is there a drill that you remember doing when you were younger that really helped?
AK: Paying attention and developing a routine from the time you wake up in the morning. Really working on a recovery routine after you throw; band drills, dumbbells, running. Just getting that into your head and build that routine from a young age. Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) told me something that has stuck with me, which was “The best guys don’t get to the majors, the healthy guys do”.
DC: What does Spring Training look like right now for you?
AK: Right now I am in early camp, so Spring Training without the games. Get there around 7:00 to 7:30 in the morning, work on individual drills and then team stretch. My throwing program is doing a bullpen on Tuesdays and Fridays. I then do conditioning, lift (workout) and an arm stretch.
DC: Do you know which team you will be starting with this year?
AK: Some guys know already, but I don’t know for sure yet. It looks like probably Lansing and at some point Dunedin. I’d like to spend as much time in Dunedin as possible.
DC: If you weren’t playing baseball, what type of career would you want to pursue?
AK: I actually get this question a lot. I had no plan B, everything for me is baseball. I had teachers in High School that would tell me it is a long shot (to make it) and I should also have another plan. I would respectfully tell them I was going to do it. But I guess if there was something else, I like money and love sports so maybe a sports agent. I am a numbers guy and really focus on the stock market; so helping athletes with their money would be something I’d have interest in. Also because I like numbers maybe a sports analysis.
DC: Did you know much about the Blue Jays history before being drafted?
AK: I didn’t know really anything about the Blue Jays at all, they didn’t even talk to me very much before the draft. I knew they were in Canada, they had Josh Donaldson and knew about Jose Bautista but that was about it. Pretty sure they won those two World Series in 1992 and 1993 and how excited the city got for those (playoffs). I want to bring that back, we are almost 30 years from those and that is right around the time I want to be coming up and a strong group of guys. It would be really nice to bring that in 2022 and 2023.
DC: I guess you wouldn’t have an All-Time favorite Blue Jay then?
AK: I do, Roy Halladay is one of my All-Time favorite pitchers.
DC: Do you have any All-Time favorite baseball players?
AK: When I was really young and started paying attention to baseball players it would have been A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. But when I started getting older it was Justin Verlander, I like how he is a workhorse and just eats innings. I’ve been compared to him for having similar styles and I want to be like that; I want Cy Young’s, Championships and Kate Upton. I wasn’t around to see him but really like how Nolan Ryan was (presented himself) and his attitude. I would like to be like Justin Verlander with a Nolan Ryan attitude. I also really like Gerrit Cole, but our styles are very different, he throws so hard.
DC: Do you know much about the Maple Leafs or Raptors?
AK: I know nothing about the Maple Leafs (as he laughs), I’ve gone to see a couple of Lightning games since being down in Florida. I like all sports and have watched a few hockey games. I am a big basketball fan and this may be controversial but I really like Khawi Leonard. It is really cool they won.
DC: So is it safe to say you’ve never been on skates?
AK: I have never been on skates, but I’ve rollerbladed a lot. I heard skating is a lot harder. I have been at malls where they have rinks and turned down going out on the ice with friends, I don’t want to risk falling and breaking my ankle. I wonder if they have massive skates with extra-wide skate blades that might help. I do want to learn how to skate one day, I’m a very coordinated guy and feel like I could pick it up.
DC: I have a question from Twitter from @Tyler Tylerson33.
AK: Vancouver was awesome, I had never been to Canada before and it was amazing. I do have family in Calgary but had never been up there. I can’t really describe how amazing Vancouver is, so unique with the mountains, beach and having the City. I’ve heard it is the best place in the minors to play, with the weather, city and the food is awesome. I heard it goes downhill after Vancouver for minor league cities and that I was spoiled getting to play there. I really think it could easily be a AAA or Major League city.
DC: Is there anything else you want Blue Jays fans to know?
AK: I am so excited, I can’t believe how many Blue Jays fans are out there, there is so many, they are all over, I didn’t know they were everywhere. I am so excited for this unique experience to represent an entire country.