To say the 2013 season was a breakthrough campaign for Ryan Huck would be an understatement. The Western Kentucky first baseman began the year as a longshot to be drafted. Then he put up Tecmo Baseball-like numbers for the Hilltoppers and all of that changed. In 53 games with the Hilltoppers this season, Huck hit .367 with 16 homers, 56 RBI and a .694 SLG.
Those numbers opened a lot of eyes and led to the Oakland A's calling Huck's name in the 27th round of this year's draft. Huck then put together a solid professional debut season, continuing his breakthrough campaign. In 10 games with the AZL A's, Huck hit .475 with two homers, seven doubles and a triple. He was then promoted to short-season Vermont, where he got off to a fast start. Over his first 25 games, he hit .279 with three homers and an 845 OPS. Those numbers earned him a spot on the New York-Penn League's All-Star team.
Midway through his stint with the Lake Monsters, Huck injured his foot and missed two weeks. He struggled after returning from the injury, but overall, it was a very positive professional debut for the Missouri native.
Donald Moore spoke with Huck during the Lake Monsters' final roadtrip of the 2013 season.
Donald Moore: How is everything going for you so far this season?
Ryan Huck: It's been a first good year. I mean it's been a lot of fun and it's a new experience, and I'm getting used to playing everyday and some of the experiences that I've had, it has been a lot fun.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
RH: For this year, Instructs are coming up in a few weeks. My goals are right now after the season, work on getting stronger and going down to Instructs with the focus of getting better.
DM: What is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
RH: I'd have to say is probably my power. Sometimes I struggled showing it, but definitely that's why I got picked up and that's what I'm going to need to do to continue my career.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
RH: Probably my pitch selection. Sometimes I'll chase pitches out of the zone and when I do that, I leave myself no opportunity to put the ball out of the park, like I need to be doing.
DM: How are you adjusting to pro ball?
RH: It's a lot different than in college. You play five games a week tops and that's the biggest difference, just adjusting to playing every single day and mentally and physically preparing yourself everyday to go out and play.
DM: What is the best part about being a professional baseball player?
RH: Just being able to still play the game that I love. I mean it's something I always dreamed about since I was little and being able to continue to play, and getting the opportunity to play, it's the best thing.
DM: Any pregame routine?
RH: Not really, I'm not too much of a superstitious guy, so I really don't have anything I necessarily do the day before.
DM: Favorite thing you like to do off the field?
RH: I'm a big Xbox player. I love playing Call of Duty.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
RH: St. Louis Cardinals. I'm from St. Louis, so I was always raised a diehard Cardinals fan.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
RH: Without a doubt, it would be my dad. I mean he was my coach since I was four, when I started all the way up until I got into high school. Through all the years, definitely, my dad was my biggest influence in my baseball career.
DM: Craziest thing you ever seen on a diamond?
RH: I would have to say in college there was a runner on third base and there was a passed ball and the catcher just reached up to the umpire for a new ball. The umpire handed him the ball, the catcher tagged him out, and the umpire called him out. And we all started laughing, saying what just happened? He [the umpire] ended up saying ‘never mind, he's safe'. That was pretty wild.
DM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
RH: Hopefully I'm making my way up to the big leagues. That is all of our goals here and that's why we still play the game, to get the opportunity to go out and make it to the big time.
DM: Ryan, thank you very much for your time.
RH: Absolutely, thank you very much.