In 1993, the Cubs had the 10th pick in the June amateur draft. With that pick, they chose an Outfielder from the University of Texas. Brooks Kieschnick was a high prospect in the Cubs organization. In 1996, he got his first shot at the big leagues with 29 AB’s, mostly in a pinch hitting role, and hit .345. In 1997, Brooks was given 90 AB’s, this time including some starts in Left Field. In that stint, he hit a mediocre .200 and was never again seen in a Cub uniform. He went on to be left unprotected in the expansion draft and was chosen by Tampa Bay. From there, he would go on to Cincinnati & Colorado via Free Agency. Both of these stops proved disappointing for Brooks and the organization. Finally, Brooks was given his break when he signed with the division rival, Milwaukee Brewers. Since then, he has gone on to not only pinch hit, but also pitch regularly out of the Brewer’s bullpen. Recently, I caught up with Brooks to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!!!
At what point growing up did you know you wanted to be a major league baseball player, and at what point did you really feel like “Hey, this could actually happen”?
Since I was old enough to know what a major league baseball player was I knew that is what I wanted to do. I felt like it could really happen when I was in college.
Drafted in the first round is a big weight on a player’s shoulders. In the Cubs organization, you were a very highly touted prospect that according to a lot of Cubs fans “Never met his potential”. Now, playing for a division rival, how does it feel to not only hurt the Cubs with your arm out of the pen, but also your bat as a PH?
It feels great just to be in the big leagues. Some fans probably do feel that way and that is their right. Whether it is the Cubs or any one else in the big leagues, I enjoy getting a chance to pitch and hit against them.
Do you feel that you were given a fair shake in the Chicago system as your were developing or do you think they gave up on you too early?
If 70 ABs in a row was a chance then I guess I did not meet my potential. In my eyes I think they gave up on me to early. I would have loved to get 500 ABs in one season to see what I could have done with that.
You are looked upon by most around the league as a genuine throwback player that will do whatever it takes to help his team win, including converting from an OF to a pitcher. Whose idea was this and do you ever miss playing the OF on a day to day basis?
That is exactly what I am, a throwback player. I just love to play the game. Coach Gustafson had mentioned it to me a few times and some players also said a few things after I had pitched in a blow out game in the minor leagues. I don’t really miss it because now I get to do both.
As a major league player, you are able to see a lot of places, and meet a lot of people. Please share a few of the best non baseball moments in your life since coming to the bigs. (i.e. – meeting so and so, or going here, or doing this
I have met some really great people, some baseball and some not. I have met some movie stars and I have been able to travel to places that I would have never gone to if it weren’t for baseball.
What was the hardest thing about being a # 1 draft pick and is there anything you would do over again?
The hardest thing about being a # 1 draft pick is that you under a microscope all the time and sometimes are not allowed to just be a baseball player. I myself wanted to be treated just like everyone else. The only thing I would have done differently was to go out and have fun playing the game instead of worrying when I was going to get to the big leagues.
What was the best thing about being a team’s # 1 draft pick?
I guess the best thing about it was knowing that you were liked by the people that drafted you and you were going to be given an opportunity to show those people your game. That is what was so frustrating for me with the Cubs is that the people that drafted me were gone after a year and a new regime came in and brought a whole new staff and new ideas on what they wanted for there team.
What is the worst and best thing about minor league baseball?
The worst thing about minor league baseball is the travel. The best thing is the relationships that you build with your teammates that you come up through the minor leagues with.
Who is the nicest pro ball player that doesn’t typically get noticed in the press?
I have 2, Dave Burba and Wes Obermueller. They are both great guys.
If you could play commissioner for a day, and could make changes to the game of baseball, what changes would you make and why?
I think he is doing a great job and would not change a thing.
What is the biggest issue facing the game today and how can MLB get past it?
I plead the 5th.
This and other sites are part of a great new tread in sports journalism called blogging. Do you read any blogs and if so, which ones?
I am going to have to say no but I am definitely going to read this one.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself hanging out with my wife and kids. Probably doing a lot of hunting and fishing.
Where do you see the Cubs in 2005?
I see them in Chicago and Milwaukee about 16 games a year.
I know a lot of those answers were safe answers, but you have to give him credit for actually consider doing an interview for a Cub fan. After all, the Cubs gave him the shaft. Hopefully you enjoyed it. I have always liked Brooks and wish him all the best in 146 games this year.