The Detroit Tigers are bound for the 2013 playoffs, but not by the virtue of their bullpen, which has endured inconsistent veteran Jose Valverde and shaky rookie Bruce Rondon among others at the end of games. While their relievers haven’t been a strong suit for the team this year, it’s a unit they can hope to improve in the future. One candidate who should be on the short list is prospect Guido Knudson, who just wrapped up a dominant season in their minor league system.
The right-handed Knudson graduated from Bonita Vista High School in California in 2007. He went on to attend the University of California-San Diego, where he had a stellar four-year career both starting and relieving.
During his career, he appeared in 80 games (42 starts), going a combined 29-12 with a 3.63 ERA, 10 saves and 253 strikeouts. His well-rounded production was enough for the Tigers to make him their 28th-round selection in the 2011 draft.
After moderate success during his first two professional seasons, Knudson truly broke out in 2013. Pitching as a set-up man for Single-A West Michigan, he was 1-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 42 appearances. He struck out 38 while allowing just 41 hits in 50.1 innings.
For his career, he has now made a total of 76 relief appearances, going 2-5 with a 2.78 ERA. At the age of 24, he seems primed to move to the upper minors to attempt to prove he deserves a chance in the majors.
Last offseason, before he took a major step forward in his development, he answered some questions about his time in baseball. Read on to find out a little bit more about the Detroit prospect.
Guido Knudson Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: Growing up, I was a San Diego Padres fan. I was born and raised in San Diego with a passion for my hometown teams. My favorite players were Nolan Ryan and Trevor Hoffman. Two guys with a lot of confidence and presence on the mound, who were also fiercely competitive. I even experimented with a Hoffman-like leg kick in little league and convinced myself it made me throw harder.
How did you know that the Tigers were interested in you?: Steve Pack, the scout for my region, had talked with me a few times leading up to the draft and had been to some of my games at UCSD.
What are the origins of your name- which has to be one of the best in baseball?: Guido (pronounced gee-doh) comes from my mother's Belgian side of the family. Guido Gazelle was a famous Flemish poet, my grandmother's favorite. Knudson (the K isn't silent) is the Norwegian Viking from my father's side.
What pitches do you throw?: Fastball (Two and four-seam), changeup and slider.
What has been your favorite moment so far in your career?: Winning day in and day out with the Flying Tigers last year. FSL Champs.
Who has been your most influential manager or coach?: So many to give credit to. Ryan Leake, Matt Hobbs, Dan O'Brien, Mike Maroth, Jorge Cordova and Greg Sabat to name a few. All have made me a better player.
What do you like to do in your free time?: Movies, read, cards, sports and spend time with friends and family.
How difficult is the mental transitioning from starting to relieving?: It all comes down to executing the next pitch; mentally checked in and ready to go when that phone rings. I've embraced it.
What is something professional baseball players experience that you think would surprise a lot of people?: Euchre rivalries
What did you do last offseason?: Took classes towards finishing off my degree at UCSD, spent time with family and friends and prepared for the upcoming season physically and mentally.
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