Altobelli batted .346 and led Texas Tech with 71 base hits in 2012
Nov. 5, 2012
LUBBOCK, Texas -
Just two short months after signing a professional contract with the Minnesota Twins organization, former Texas Tech catcher Bo Altobelli helped the Elizabethton Twins to the Appalachian League championship.
Altobelli was a 21st round pick by the Twins and the second catcher taken by the organization in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Now, Altobelli is back in Lubbock during his first professional off-season preparing for this coming spring which will be his first full season in the minor leagues.
Texas Tech Athletics Communications recently caught up with Altobelli to take a look back at draft day, winning a championship in his first pro season, his unmatched work ethic and where that has taken him and about the grind of catching an entire spring season before his first pro season got underway.
Talk about your experience with the MLB draft
Bo Altobelli: "I was working at a high school baseball camp throughout the entire draft. On day two, teams called me before the draft started asking if I would take a certain amount. I actually thought it I might get taken in the 15th round because the Cubs had already called. My dad was happy about that, being the Cubs fan he is. I told them I'd be fine with them selecting me, but nothing happened. So day two at night, all the teams called to see if I was still available. Day three, the same thing happened. Teams called and told me to be ready. The camp I was working at ended at noon and then I received a call at 12:20 from the Twins. They called back and verified everything. Unfortunately, my dad was out of town that weekend, so he didn't get to hear it, but my mom and sister were home so they did. My high school baseball coach was there too and it was a great experience."
What were some of your expectations going into the draft?
Bo Altobelli: "I wasn't expecting anything because you never really know how the draft is going to work. I've seen in the past that some players don't get picked even though most of the teams thought they would. I told all the scouts that I wanted to play pro ball after my junior year. I thought about it a lot and talked to my family and coaches and we were all on the same page."
What were the deciding factors in signing pro and was it a tough decision?
Bo Altobelli: "It was tough at first. I talked to all the coaches about it and they gave me their input. When it all came down to it, how many chances would I be able to get to go play pro ball? When the opportunity came up, it was pretty much a no-brainer. You never know what's going to happen. If I came back to school and got hurt, who knows? I didn't want to be here saying 'what if I signed?'
What did you come away with after your first year of pro experience?
Bo Altobelli: "After the draft, I went to Florida for a week with all the new draft prospects. We worked out in the morning and scrimmaged in the night. I was there for a week and then I took a 14-bus ride to Tennessee where I was assigned. That bus ride was my first minor-league experience. It's pretty much what I thought. We got to a small town in Tennessee called Elizabethton. We play at a community field where high schools play too. That was kind of different. We stayed with a host family which I've been through that before. We had a low crowd that would come out to the games and the competition was very high as well as the talent. Maybe not as molded as a college prospect would be, but it's what I expected. We averaged around 200 people per game. It was great going out there and playing the game you love. I don't think it set in yet that I got paid to do what I did this summer. My dad always told me I was sitting in the bullpen getting paid so it can't get much better than that."
What kind of toll did the schedule have on you catching 52 out of 55 games last spring and then going to play pro ball after that?
Bo Altobelli: "I had never done that in my life. It was nice in Tennessee. We had three catchers that rotated every third game so it kept my legs fresh. It makes it hard hitting-wise because you can't get into a rhythm. You have to take it for what it's worth. I took it like my freshman year at Texas Tech when I just soaked it all in and learned as much as possible. That was my mindset this year at Tennessee too. I'll come back in the spring and get ready to go and try to make that Single-A team."
What was the biggest change and challenge for you in your first professional season?
Bo Altobelli: "The biggest change would be facilities. At Texas Tech I had a routine every day where I would take batting practice in the cages before I would play. In Elizabethton, there's only one cage and it's outdoors, so if it's raining, you're not hitting. They only take three people to hit before the game. You hit early once a week maybe if you're a player. That was different along with playing once every third game. That was a huge change. You might get walked all four plate appearances and that's it. You try to get into a rhythm if you can. The catching coach up with Tennessee told us our goal is to get one hit per game. Going 1-4 will keep you around. He understood how hard it was to be a catcher. He did it in the big leagues. I can't get into a routine of hitting that I was used to in college. It was different in Tennessee."
How was it winning a championship with your minor league team?
Bo Altobelli: "We had a great team. Most guys think about it through a personal viewpoint in that they have to move up through the system. Who cares how the wins and losses pan out? Our manager did a great job. He played two years in the big leagues while our assistant played 16 years up there. You don't get many chances to win a championship. When we were close, he reminded us that this was a goal that not many people get to accomplish. We stuck together and even with promoting pitchers throughout the year, we managed to keep on winning. I'll always remember my first year."
What are your goals and also the Twins organization's goals for you in 2013?
Bo Altobelli: "Texas Tech had their scout day recently and I ran into the scout that drafted me. We talked for 15-20 minutes and he recommended that I go to spring training ready to go and make the Class A team, which is Cedar Rapids. My goal is to go there and get stronger while working on hitting, throwing, and basic fundamentals. Then I'll go to spring training and make the A ball team and that's pretty much my goal and take off from there."
What do you miss most about Texas Tech?
Bo Altobelli: "I miss being in the locker room and seeing the team practice and doing all of that. I loved practicing here at Tech. That's kind of a change. Now I'll go out to the field and hit in the cage and my day is done. It's different being on the outside sitting in the dugout watching practices, but I wouldn't change where I am for anything. I made the right decision and I love it right now."
Describe your progression that you made at Texas Tech and how you were able to do that
Bo Altobelli: "My freshman year, I weighed 175 and was really skinny so I knew I wasn't going to get much playing time. I soaked everything in like my dad told me. I went out there every day and worked hard. The coaches helped me a lot. Sophomore year, coach Horner came along and that was probably the best thing to happened to me. He taught me everything about catching. I soaked it all in freshman year and then get a chance sophomore year and did well with it. It took off from there."
Who are some of the Texas Tech players that you have seen this fall that have impressed you?
Bo Altobelli: "Of course I look at the catchers all the time. Mason Randolph has really progressed through his couple years here. Everything from throwing, he's gotten a little bigger, and he can swing the bat now. He could do that in the past but it looks like he has molded it all together this year. Blake Bass got in shape while playing this summer. I tracked him all summer with his California team. I've seen him out here hitting doubles and home runs. He's really impressed me. With the new players I'd say Jake Barrios has impressed me the most. He's a big guy and you can see where he comes from, prospect-wise. He can move around and make the plays so we'll see what they do with him and we'll see how he does this year."
What made you so successful here at Texas Tech?
Bo Altobelli: "I think it was how I was raised. I was always told to be the first one to the park and the last one to leave. I take that to heart. I try to come out here and outwork everyone. Whether it's in the weight room or on the field, I've wanted to make myself better. Even in school. That is what boosted me above some other people. Just work hard and control things you can control and don't worry about other stuff and just see what happens."
How did playing against the Big 12 help you prepare for where you're at right now?
Bo Altobelli: "The Big 12 is better than where I was this year in short season rookie. In pro ball you have more talent. You'll see more guys throwing 95 MPH. In the Big 12, everyone's talented and everyone knows what to do. They're more baseball smart in the Big 12. I think the Big 12 is higher than some minor league levels. It really helped me prepare more in the minor leagues as I get closer to that level and see some more guys I know. Playing in the Big 12 really helped me as far as competing, playing in front of big crowds, pressure situations, and stuff like that which will help me move through the ranks in the minor leagues."
What's next for you in the next couple months?
Bo Altobelli: "I got back to town on September 10 and took two weeks off. I didn't like it, but they told me to do it because I needed the rest. I'm working out four days a week and pretty soon I'll start a running program to get myself ready for the conditioning test they have back in March. I'll do this while following the plans they gave me. I'll work out in the field, hitting and throwing. I report in the first weekend in March where I'll go to Fort Myers, Fla. for a month and then I'll see where they send me after that."