Q&A 37th Round Pick, Nicholas Skala

ITO interviews the Orioles 37th round pick, Junior Nicholas Skala from Concordia University. This season Skala hit .390 with 10 homers and 63 RBIs.

InsidetheOs: Tell us what is going through your mind after being selected by the Orioles?

Nicholas Skala: It is really an unbelievable feeling. I dont really know how to describe it. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

ITO: Where were you when you found out you were drafted?

Skala: I was actually out to lunch with my grandma, my dad and my girlfriend. I started getting a bunch of texts saying congratulations so I was sort of surprised and then I looked on my phone and I saw my name and it was pretty cool.

ITO: Talk about your game a little bit. What type of player are you and how do you see yourself fitting in with the Orioles?

Skala: I am sort of a one of a kind player. I am a very aggressive catcher. I sort of have that catcher mentality where if I was standing in the outfield I would be yelling at somebody. I sort of need to be behind the plate. Every pitch, I am looking at something, trying to figure something out. I have that short attention span that only a catcher has. If there is a guy on base I might pick him off three or four times in one at-bat. That’s just how I like to play.

ITO: What are your strengths and your weaknesses?

Skala: My strengths are my receiving skills and probably my throwing skills. My coach has told me that I am a raw hitter due to the fact that I am strong but don’t have all the technique. Definitely my inconsistency to find a good swing every time up. I am willing to work on it and somehow find that one swing that I am able to find every time im at-bat.

ITO: How about your defensive game?

Skala: I worked with the pitching coach (at Concordia) to call pitches. It was sort of a game between us. He would call something, then I would call something trying to one up each other. We would keep points to see how many outs he called and how many outs I called. I liked having fun with it. I want pitchers to feel comfortable throwing to me, not worrying about the hitters.

ITO: Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level so the Orioles' fans have an idea of what your game is like?

Skala: I like Jadier Molina. He has the pickoff record. I love picking guys off, it makes me crazy, I just love it! He is great at what he does and I am probably not near where he is but just the aspect of him picking off more guys than any other major league catcher, I like to see that.

ITO: Were you expecting to be drafted by the Orioles or were you surprised they selected you?

Skala: It was kind of a very abrupt thing. I got called on Sunday asking a few questions by some scouts saying we might take you, we might not. They said if your name does get called we will move forward. If it doesn’t it will be a great opportunity for you to improve and work on your game either at the pro level or next season in college and hopefully we can make it work out when the time is right. Obviously, they felt that the time was right now. It was kind of a shocking thing but it is very cool.

ITO: What would you say is your best moment in baseball and why?

Skala: My first year I was at another community college. I did not play a ton, but sitting to learn the game really helped me become the player that I am and how I go about the offseason and during the season. The experience I had down there when we went to the regionals and went to the world series and seeing the top notch players. Knowing that I was there and competing with them, it is just a very cool feeling.

ITO: What did you change in your technique that had you go from not playing much to hitting the way you have over the past two seasons?

Skala: I have been working hard in the offseason. I actually raised my hands six inches. I think that has given me more pop and just coming down on the ball. It was realy uncomfortable in the winter months and I was not happy with it but coach just told me to keep pushing through the awkwardness.

ITO: Who was your favorite team and player growing up?

Skala: The Cubs I guess. I am a Cubs guy in Chicago. I didn’t really have a favorite player. I played a lot of different positions growing up as most kids did so I just liked watching games and going to the ballpark.

ITO: What are your immediate plans now that you have been drafted by the Orioles? Is it your intention to sign now and start your professional career immediately?

Skala: I am weighing my options. I have not been contacted back with an offer yet. I will be willing to make my decision when everything weighs out. I do have another year of school but it is just awesome to be selected and have this many options. I am just really excited.

Interesting side note: The night he was drafted, a bad storm rolled through his town and lightening actually struck his house and exploded the brick chimney. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

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