Q&A: Mizzou great Kyle Gibson talks about his alma mater and playing in MLB

Gibson is a starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.
Kyle Gibson pitches for Missouri in a 2009 baseball game. Gibson is now a pitcher on the Minnesota Twins. Maneater File Photo

Kyle Gibson played three seasons for the Missouri baseball team, winning 11 games as a junior in 2009. That summer, he was selected in the first round (22nd overall) of the MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins. He made his big league debut in 2013 and won 11 games last season. He has a 3.57 earned run average through three starts in 2016.

Gibson caught up with The Maneater’s Peter Baugh.

Peter Baugh: How have you felt about your pitching so far this season? Kyle Gibson: I’m only three starts in, but all three starts have been drastically different I would say. My first start, I didn’t have my best stuff and battled through it. Next start got a little bit better and had a little bit better results, and then this last time out (I) had a few bad pitches that cost me a couple runs, but after that I was able to settle down. I think it’s the progression I’d like to see. You always want to be progressing the right way and you’re always going to have a rough outing here or there, and your goal is to never have two or three of those string together. You want to be able to make adjustments and get back on track as soon as possible. So far I’ve been able to do that … I feel pretty good. Our team’s winning more and we got on a roll there, so that’s always good. Anytime you’re winning, the clubhouse is better and everything is going better.

PB: What’s been the best part of being a Major League player? KG: It’s a goal realized and a goal that I accomplished. As a kid, my goal was always to play at the highest level possible each level I went up … I wanted to play varsity as a freshman in high school, and when I went to college I wanted to play at the best level of competition possible. Missouri was not only a great communication and journalism school that I wanted to study, but they were playing in one of the better conferences in college baseball. As I look now where I am, I’m able to play at the highest level possible against the best competition in the world. It’s always been a goal as I move up each level.

PB: Who are some teammates you have enjoyed playing with? KG: We’ve got a really good group of guys right now. I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people … the starting staff with Ervin Santana, Tommy Milone, Phil Hughes, myself and Ricky Nolasco, those five guys, we’re pretty close as well. It’s always good to be bouncing ideas off of each other. But we have a lot of fun with the position player guys, too. It’s a great group of guys and a fun group to be around.

PB: How is playing with young prospects like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Byung Ho Park? KG: It’s really exciting. All three of those guys are guys that, when they’re up to bat or when a ball is hit their way, you’re jumping up to see what’s going to happen. It’s pretty cool to watch Park and how he’s transitioned into the game here. And to see Miguel Sano and the success he’s had at a young age. Just to see the potential of Byron Buxton and some of the glimpses he’s given us … it’s pretty cool to be around players with such talent.

PB: How did Missouri help you progress into the big leagues? KG: Mizzou was a pretty special time for me. One thing that we focused on a lot was mental preparation and being as good as you can mentally. That’s something that’s stayed with me over the last six years, seven years since I’ve been there and something that I’ll never forget. Whether it’s going after contact and having the confidence in your stuff or … trying to get to two strikes as fast as possible, there are still things that I try to look at and try to focus on that were instilled on me at Mizzou … it was a dear place in my heart and my wife’s heart as well, she’s an (alumna) also. To be able to go back whenever we can and to get to relive memories and remember the life lessons we learned there is a lot of fun.

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