Angels Prospect Interview: Rian Kiniry

After being assigned to the Orem Owlz after being a draft-and-follow signee, Rian Kiniry has had some struggles in his assimilation to professional baseball. A former football player, baseball is relatively new to the 20-year-old.

Talk about the process of being selected and then signed as a draft-and-follow.

Rian Kiniry: It was quite surprising, actually, considering in high school I got drafted and didn't expect to at all. It kind of changed my path towards baseball. I took baseball a lot more serious from that point on, and it all came together.

I started working hard everyday and luckily we came to an agreement and here I am playing for Orem.

Was there another sport involved that you thought would be your career path before you were taken by the Angels?

Rian Kiniry: Yes, I was a football player mainly. I played both all the way through high school but football was my main sport up until then.

How has the maturation process been for you since high school until now from a baseball standpoint?

Rian Kiniry: I am just trying to convert my athleticism to become a baseball player – not just an athlete playing baseball. Everyday, I learn more and more about the game, and I am trying to catch up with the people who do play it year round – closing the gap on them.

What was the biggest challenge then?

Rian Kiniry: Playing everyday and learning the ins and outs and game – not just hit, run, throw. Learning the baserunning and all the little nuances of the game – going through slumps.

Based on the past year and now that you are in Orem – what is the strength of your game?

Rian Kiniry: Coming in every single day to play. Everyday I come in with the same mentality to play as hard as I can to help our team win the game. I feel I am a guy that affects the scoreboard in helping teams win games any way I can.

How has this all translated to your defensive game? Centerfield, specifically, is a demanding position.

Rian Kiniry: That has been the easiest transition I have had. In football I was a cornerback. I played a lot of defensive back and having loose hips and being able to read the ball and adjust to the ball – making quick adjustments if there are any. Using that ability has helped.

Do you see yourself as being a raw guy with the bat that will face struggles that you will have to just fight through?

Rian Kiniry: Definitely. I never really had a true batting chance. I have always tried to change because I have a tendency to lean forward a little. Every at bat is going to help me more and more in getting to become a complete hitter and getting to stay back.

How have you changed your stance since you have been in Orem – especially considering you have been relatively selective at the plate early on?

Rian Kiniry: Balance is a real big key for me. If I lunge forward, I can't really decide what the pitch is – I give myself less time to decide what the pitch is. If I stay back I can see the ball longer and not swing at many balls and be more selective in the strike zone.

Being selective isn't something that the Angels are known for at the plate. The philosophy seems to be if you see a pitch you like – let ‘er rip. How does that play into your game?

Rian Kiniry: I love doing that too on the flipside. I love attacking the fastball and I believe I can hit any pitch they throw – if it is hittable. It gives me a better idea of the zone now. Before I was aggressive and, at times, too aggressive where I would swing at pitches I just could not handle.

Being aggressive on the bases is something that seems to be the expectation out of a centerfielder. Will that be something we see from you as the year goes on since one of the traits you have is good speed?

Rian Kiniry: I am going to just try and get in scoring position anyway possible. Steal bases when needed, going to first to third and forcing the defense to make really exceptional plays to get you out – keep the pressure on the defense.

You have batted in three different spots in the lineup already this year. Does it matter to you where you hit in the lineup?

Rian Kiniry: I really love hitting leadoff since I feel like I can set the table for my team and provide energy – a sparkplug. But – anywhere in the order they need me I will do what is called upon to help the team. In any spot I can hit, score some runs or drive people in – do whatever I can no matter what spot they put me in.

If I remember correctly, you could dial it up to 90 MPH with your throws from the outfield. Did anyone ever come to you with thoughts of you being a pitcher?

Rian Kiniry: No one had ever mentioned that to me. I always messed around saying, ‘I wish I could pitch.' I was just joking, but I do have a good arm. I have to learn how to use it more for my position but never considered it.

What are your expectations for this year and what would you term a successful year?

Rian Kiniry: My expectations are to get a lot better at the game of baseball, learning more about the nuances of the game and the little things that will make me a complete player.

What would make a successful season is us winning – and winning a lot. Learning how to be a winner and what it takes and find myself being part of a winning team.

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