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12 Questions With... Nate Roberts

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Raise your hand, Minnesota Twins fans, if you knew who Nate Roberts was before the Arizona Fall League. Well, if you follow Twins Daily, you found the outfielder’s name on these pages frequently. But it is fair to say that Roberts gained a lot of respect and notoriety around Twins Territory with his incredible performance with the Peoria Javelinas. He led the Arizona Fall League in Batting Average (.446), On Base Percentage (.565), Slugging Percentage (.662), and of course, OBP (1.226). In 84 plate appearances, he walked 12 times and was hit by seven pitches while striking out just seven times. He stole six bases in eight attempts.

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Anything can happen in the small sample size of the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League, but the types of skills that Roberts showed are consistent with what he has shown since the Twins drafted him with their 5th round pick in 2010. In 35 Appalachian League games that season, he hit .336/.444/.547 (.991) with ten doubles, a triple, and five homers. Because of knee injuries, he has spent the past two seasons in Beloit. In 2011, he hit .302/.443/.446 (.889) with 12 doubles, four triples and four home runs. In 2012, he hit .299/.433/.427 (.860) with 18 doubles, three triples and four homers. He walked 44 times and struckout 37 times. In the past two seasons, he has been hit by 52 pitches. Roberts epitomizes what it means to be a leadoff hitter. He also grows a fantastic mustache.

Today, Twins Daily is thrilled to bring you 12 Questions With… Nate Roberts.

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Size:  9.5 KBTwins Daily (TD): Growing up in Illinois, who was your favorite team and who were some of your favorite players?

Nate Roberts (NR):
I was a Cubs fan growing up and as a kid my favorite player was Mark Grace. Most recent Cubs that I enjoyed watching were Kerry Wood, Mark Derosa, and Reed Johnson.

TD: Tell us about your high school career (baseball and/or other extra-curriculars).

NR: In high school, I played football, basketball, and baseball. Baseball was actually my third favorite of the three, believe it or not.

TD: What were some of the highlights of your college playing days at various schools, culminating with a tremendous season High Point?

NR: JUCO was a great time as we won the national championship that year. My year at High Point was also memorable as we worked extremely hard to obtain the first winning record in the Div 1 history of the school.

TD: The Twins drafted you in the 5th round in 2010... is that about where you were expecting to go, and did you have much communication with Twins scouts before that?

NR: I was happy to be drafted by the Twins that early because I was expecting to go that soon, so that was cool. I was in contact with the Twins scout, Ricky Taylor, more than anyone else so I was happy to be picked by the Twins.

TD: You signed quickly and went to Elizabethton. How would you describe your adjustment to pro baseball and what did you learn from that first season?

NR: It was a good experience to minor league ball, especially the living on the road part. It was a fun transition to playing better competition and the coaches and players there were a lot of fun to be around.

TD: You have spent the last two seasons in Beloit battling knee injuries, but when you're in the lineup, you are the consummate leadoff hitter, getting on-base over 40% of the time, even if it means getting hit by a ton of pitches. Is that your philosophy as a hitter? (Get on base)

NR: My philosophy at the plate is to get on in any way I can and to see a lot of pitches. I adopted the HBP mentality at HPU and it continues to work. I also enjoy it too.

TD: Were you surprised when you heard you were going to the Arizona Fall League? What were your expectations going into that season?

NR: I was very surprised to be going to the AFL as I was scheduled to be in instructs. So I was grateful for the opportunity. I didn't go in with any high expectation as I was happy to still be playing ball. I just wanted to try and get better, play hard, and have fun. It was a great experience playing there with some good competition.

TD: Fair to say that things went well for you there as you led the AFL in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. What were some of the big take-aways for you from your time in Arizona?

NR: My biggest take away from there is that I competed well against some top players which will help my confidence going into next season.

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TD: Looking to 2013, what are some of your goals? Do you think you'll start in Ft. Myers or jump up to New Britain?

NR: My number one goal is to play a full season as I have yet to do so. I also want to help my team win a championship as we have come close in the past. I'm not worried about where I'll play next season. The Twins will decide that, and I'll be happy to continue to be a part of their club.

TD: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career as a baseball player?

NR: Many coaches throughout my life have been influential, so I can’t just name a few. My parents have definitely been the most help.

TD: If you weren't playing baseball, what would you be doing (your career of choice)?

NR: Once I'm done playing, I plan on teaching and coaching high school.

TD: Favorite baseball movie?

NR: Favorite baseball movie: For Love of the Game.

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Thank you very much to Nate Roberts for taking time out of his offseason schedule to answer our questions. We wish him the best in spring training and wherever the 2013 season brings him.
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