Two years ago, the Oakland A's took a senior right-hander out of Kansas University who dominated out of the bullpen for the A's short-season squad. Paul Smyth has gone on to be one of the A's better relief prospects and is currently pitching well in the Texas League. T.J. Walz is starting off his career in a similar fashion, although his ultimate destination might be the starting rotation.
The right-hander has been nearly flawless for the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters thus far this season. In 19 innings pitched, he has an 0.47 ERA and a 23:3 K:BB ratio. Batters are hitting only .194 against him.
Walz was originally a 50th-round pick of the A's in 2010, but he elected to return to Kansas for his senior season. Walz left the Jayhawks at the end of the 2011 as one of the most decorated pitchers in school history. He improved his draft stock, as well, going in the 15th round to Oakland this time around.
Donald Moore spoke with Walz briefly during a recent Lake Monsters' roadtrip.
Donald Moore: How is everything going this season for you?
T.J. Walz: It's good. It's a different experience, but the guys are great, and it's been fun so far.
DM: What's it like playing in the pros compared to college ball?
TJW: You know, it's just a different atmosphere. College has a little bit different mood to it, but it's something I'm growing to like.
DM: If there is one person in your life who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
TJW: Maybe not directly through baseball, but about the game itself, in reading between the lines of the game, my dad, of course.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
TJW: The Royals, I'm from Omaha. And the Mariners, but the A's will do.
DM: Favorite player?
TJW: [Ken] Griffey.
DM: In five years from now, where would you like to be?
TJW: Pitching in the bigs.
DM: Thank T.J.and good luck to you.