Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ryan Braun Feature

Shortly before Spring Training, I interviewed Ryan Braun and wrote a short feature about him for an Omaha magazine. Since then, he found out that he made the Opening Day major league roster. Even though the article is a bit dated, I thought you might enjoy reading it, so here it is:

Ryan Braun Seeks Success at the Next Level
by Lee Warren

When the Kansas City Royals Caravan bus stopped in Omaha recently, one of the players who stepped out of it was already familiar with the Omaha area. Ryan Braun, a 26 year-old relief pitcher, played for the Omaha Royals in 2006 and he put up such impressive numbers (2.16 ERA, 3 saves, and 22 strikeouts in 25 innings) that he finds himself on the big league club’s 40-man roster going into Spring Training.

He pitched briefly in Kansas City at the end of the 2006 season. It was his first crack at the big leagues and he was met with moderate success. In five of his outings, he didn’t allow any runs, but he also had a couple of poor outings and he ended the season with a 6.75 ERA. So, he knows he’s not guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“Who knows what’s going to happen this next year?” Braun said. “I feel confident and ready for a challenge. The big leagues are where I want to be, but I’m going to go out in Spring Training and compete and see what happens.”

His game plan is pretty simple.

“I need to stick with my approach,” Braun said. “Getting people out and staying mentally focused and just working within my game.” Braun said. “I’m not trying to develop a new pitch or anything like that. It’s just getting real refined in what I’ve been used to doing.”

Braun, drafted by the Royals in the sixth round in 2003, is part of a new baseball philosophy in Kansas City. Since General Manager Dayton Moore took over the team in the middle of last season, he has stressed the importance of keeping young players together in the minor leagues so they will develop strong ties and be comfortable around each other when they get to the major leagues. Braun points to guys like Mitch Maier, Chris Lubanski, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon—all of whom were first round picks in recent years—as just a few of his young, talented teammates who are on the verge of playing in Kansas City.

Braun hopes to play the entire 2007 in Kansas City. If he does, he’ll take good memories of Omaha with him.

“They have a good fan base,” Braun said. “I’d sense that going into games. I enjoyed the area too. The stadium is awesome and I like the Old Market district.”

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