AJ Pettersen was the Twins 25th round (778th overall) pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He played three seasons at the University of Minnesota after readshirting the 2008 season. He will start his minor league career at Elizabethton (Tennessee), one of the Twins rookie ball affiliates. AJ has been kind enough to answer a few questions before he heads off to Elizabethton.
Kevin Lewis: Not many Twins fans know much about AJ Pettersen. Could you give a little bio about your baseball career and what made you choose baseball as your career?
AJ Pettersen: I played in 2006 and 2007 for Minnetonka High School and for Excelsior Legion, followed by 4 years at the University of Minnesota. I chose baseball because I quickly learned there wasn't a whole lot of room for a short, skinny kid in basketball. In all seriousness, baseball has been my passion for many years and I enjoy every aspect of it. For that reason, it was an easy choice.
KL: While playing for the U of Minnesota during the 2009-2010 season, you guy were the first team to play a game at Target Field. How exciting was that experience?
AP: That was a pretty cool experience. It is definitely one of my most exciting baseball experiences. I think 37,000 fans showed up that day for the open house/baseball game and that more than tripled the highest attendance I had played for previously. The Twins have been very gracious to the Gophers for many years and getting that opportunity was pretty fantastic.
KL: You had a great 2011 season, hitting .344 with 12 doubles and an on-base percentage of .394 for the Gophers. If I was a team interested in you, what would your scouting report tell me?
AP: It would probably say that I don't have any one tool that will wow you, but if you keep coming back you will see consistently good performances. I pride myself on playing all aspects of the game well and for helping my team win in any way I can.
KL: Being a hometown guy, playing at Minnetonka High School and then attending the University of Minnesota, what was it like being drafted by the Minnesota Twins?
AP: It is quite an honor that I got picked by the Twins. I have been a fan of the Twins my entire life and it's awesome to be part of the organization now. I couldn't think of a better organization to be a part of.
KL: Growing up as a young baseball player, who was your favorite team to follow as well as your favorite player?
AP: Like I said, I have always been a big Twins fan. I have also always been a big fan of the little guys across the league. I used to be a big David Eckstein fan for obvious reasons and I am now a real big fan of Dustin Pedroia. Both of those guys play the game the right way and it's fun to watch.
KL: If you aren’t on the baseball field working on becoming a better player, what are you doing?
AP: If I am not playing ball I am probably hanging out with my fiance, my family and my friends. I like to play video games and just hang out and watch tv, movies, etc.
KL: If you were to speak to a group of young kids who dream to become pro baseball players, what one piece of advice would you give them?
AP: Keep working hard. I know that sounds cliche, but if I hadn't spent hours upon hours in the batting cages in the freezing cold, or taking ground balls in the wee hours of the morning I never would have made it this far. I would also recommend that kids play games of wiffle ball, stickball, etc. These games develop the instincts that many kids today lack because they play too much organized baseball. These games put kids in situations that they might not see as much in real games and force kids to think on their toes and make quick decisions.
KL: I would like to thank AJ for taking some time as he heads to Elizabethton tonight. I wish him nothing but the best and that one day he could maybe join Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins as a third hometown Twin.
AP: Thanks for giving me the chance to answer a few questions. Go Gophers and Go Twins!