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Kyle’s recovery — one last push
Waldrop, ex-Ads All-American and Twins top pick, making one last push to Majors following surgery

Bouncing back from shoulder surgery sidelining him for all of 2008, pitcher Kyle Waldrop is back for, perhaps, one final run at the Major Leagues.

“I feel like I’ve been close to 100 percent most of the season,” said Waldrop, former Farragut Admirals All-American and Minnesota Twins organization $1 million top pick in 2004 (25th overall pick).

Exclusively as a relief pitcher while on rehab both in Class A Fort Myers (Fla.) and currently in Class AA New Britain (Conn.), Waldrop said, “My velocity’s probably the best that it’s been in three years” with a fastball averaging 90 mph topping out at “92 or 93.”

In 16 out-ings with New Britain (29.2 innings), Waldrop has a 1.21 earned run average with no home runs allowed. However, Waldrop has walked eight batters and beaned six others to go with 15 strikeouts.

“The off-speed stuff took a little bit longer to come back around,” Waldrop said about “finding the release point on my slider, curveball and change-up. But I’ve had a better feel for those pitches as the season’s progressed.”

Worried you'll never make it to the Major Leagues? “That thought had crossed my mind — more when I was going through rehab,” Waldrop said. “It might not ever happen, but I still have faith I can do it. ... I feel like I've been in Minor League Baseball forever.

“But I'm still just 23 years old, and 23 years old in double-A, that's about average,” he added. “I feel like I'm still on track with all the other people that are my age. So, I'm not discouraged yet. ... Most other people went to college, I came out of high school.”

About turning down a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt out of FHS in 2004, Waldrop said, “You always do wonder ‘what if?’”

“During the low points, when I was struggling my second season when I was in Wisconsin [Beloit, Class A], and when I was going through rehab last year, I thought, 'What if I had gone to Vanderbilt?’” Waldrop said. “What would have happened then?”

However, “I was put in this situation for a reason,” he added. “I have faith in the Lord that he's shown me that. He's showed me the right track to take out of high school.”

Moreover, “You've gotta ask yourself: what if I went to Vanderbilt and got hurt at Vanderbilt? I might not have the opportunity to play professional baseball if I'd had the surgery the last year at Vanderbilt.”

Late in Spring Training 2008, Waldrop was shut down for the season. “My elbow and shoulder were both hurting me pretty good,” Waldrop said, leading up to surgery in April 2008.

Now in 2009, “As the season’s gone on they’ve said I’ve done really well in the roll so far. A starter or relief, either one would be fine with me,” Waldrop said. “But they said a lot of people in the organization still see me as a starter.”


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