During spring training, I interviewed Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross on the backfields in Surprise after workouts one morning.
Robbie is a great guy and was really nice throughout the whole process. After agreeing to do the interview early in the week, there were multiple mornings where he took the time to look for me after the workouts to try and do the interview. On the day that the interview took place, he was completely focused on the interview, even while a crowd was starting to develop for autographs. He then signed for everyone there after we were done. I was very impressed with Robbie. He is a really good guy.
Note that this interview was done prior to Robbie learning that he had earned a spot on the major league team.
Me: What did you change after the 2010 season in order to change your 5.37 High-A ERA in 2010 to a 2.26 High-A ERA in 2011?
Robbie: Well, I just approached it like it was another game, focused a little more, and just tried to just get in there and learn what I did the year before that was wrong and kind of figure out what I needed to do. I just focused in on that and tried to hone in on my skills again. So I just really focused on the little things that I might have done wrong that I needed to work on.
Me: What is the biggest difference you have noticed between Single-A and Double-A hitters?
Robbie: Double-A hitters are a little more patient. They focus a little better than some of the high-A hitters. Guys come out hacking in high-A, but in double-A they become a little more patient and become a little more students of the game because they can see what’s going on in the games and what they need to do.
Me: Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard from a lot of different pitchers. What made you decide to sign with the Rangers and go pro instead of going to play college ball at Kentucky?
Robbie: Well, I really prayed about it. I’m a Christian and I just prayed about it. I talked to my family and I talked to my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, about what I wanted to do and told her, if the opportunity comes and I feel like it’s right and I feel like God’s pushing me in that direction, I should go. I ended up going in that direction.
Me: That’s always a good reason to make a decision.
Me: Which means more to you, being named the 2008 Kentucky Player of the Year, or being named last year’s Carolina League Pitcher of the Year?
Robbie: I’ve never really been a big fan of those things, titles and stuff like that. I’m playing to have fun and I enjoy it. Both of them were an honor and I appreciate the titles, but it’s really just that I’d love to get to the big leagues at some point. If I could get to the big leagues, I’d sacrifice all of the awards I’ve ever gotten, so that’s really what I’m focusing on right now.
Me: What have you been working on so far this offseason and why?
Robbie: I’ve just really been working on getting my fastball on both sides of the plate. And I’ve been working on a curve ball recently and trying to get that going a little bit in my pitching repertoire, I guess you could say.
Me: You’ve been named to a lot of ʽTop Prospectsʼ lists recently. What does that mean to you? I guess you’ve really already kind of answered that. I guess you just try to ignore those?
Robbie: Yeah, it’s really just a bunch of people trying to say that you’re doing this, and this, and this right. They’re good things, you know. It’s nice to be named to those but at the same time, you can’t focus too much on that because you’ve got to grind it out every day and try to do what you have to do. It’s just a bunch of numbers and things like that that lead to those lists, but in the end, we’re all working to get to the big leagues. If we get these accolades or whatever, it’s just another writing or whatever it is. We’re just trying to get to the big leagues at some point.
Me: What do you think has been your best professional game and why?
Robbie: I don’t really know actually. Whatever I’m doing, I try to go through it every day and I’m trying to pitch. I really don’t know what my best game was. There have been bad games and there have been good games. I learn from my good ones and I learn from the bad. That’s pretty much it.
Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
Robbie: (laughs) Well, I’ve met a lot of new guys. A lot of them are on the minor league side, like Ben Henry. I knew him from the very beginning. Joe Wieland just got traded and he was one of my best buddies, too. Those guys were a big part of my life and dudes that I’ve been hanging out with. Then Chad Bell also is another good guy. Actually, all three of those guys were in my wedding. So those are probably the guys that I’ve hung out with the most.
Me: Can you please rate the ballparks in the Rangers organization that youʼve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?
Robbie: 10 probably is being in Frisco, because Frisco’s probably the best place to play at. Myrtle Beach was amazing also. But nothing beats being in Spokane in rookie ball because, for me, it’s been the most people I’ve been around. So that’s probably the best so far.
Me: What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?
Robbie: Just the daily grind, in and out of going to practice. Traveling, being away from your family, is the toughest part. Because I have younger siblings that I don’t get to see, so that’s pretty tough. Missing friends and family and that atmosphere is the hardest part.
Me: What was your favorite team growing up?
Robbie: Probably the Reds.
Me: Oh, really? My dad’s from Cincinnati and I’m a Reds fan too.
Robbie: Really? I’m from Kentucky (Lexington) so that’s the closest team around us.
Me: So are you a Kentucky Wildcats fan?
Robbie: Oh yeah
Robbie: Not like extremely huge but I like them a lot.
Me: OK, well, I like Louisville, so…
Robbie: Yeah? Sorry (laughs)
Me: What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at, other than baseball?
Robbie: Soccer. I loved soccer. I would have liked to have played in college but I ended up going with baseball.
Me: What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with?
Robbie: A twisted ankle. Knock on wood. Hopefully that’s all I have to deal with but if it ends up being something else, that’s part of it. Life goes on.
Me: Thank you so much for doing this.
Robbie: No problem, man.
I would like to thank Robbie for giving so much of his time for this interview.
Come back next for an interview with Rangers pitcher Mike Adams.