, the Rangers' 25th round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, was a pleasant surprise last summer, reaching High-A Bakersfield in his first season.
Roark began his career working out of the bullpen for the rookie-level Arizona Rangers. The right-hander posted excellent results, going 2-1 with a 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings. The success earned Roark a promotion to Bakersfield, where he continued to pitch well.
The 22-year-old logged 30 innings [10 relief appearances, 2 starts] with the Blaze, and he put up a 3.60 ERA. Roark surrendered 27 hits, walked 13, and struck out 37.
In his most recent Spring Training outing, Roark displayed excellent command of his low-90s fastball, getting two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. Lone Star Dugout chatted with the pitcher after the game.
Jason Cole: Today was your second Spring Training outing, correct?
Tanner Roark: Yeah.
Cole: How have your first two gone?
Roark: Good. I feel like I'm commanding my fastball in and out. I've just got to get the feel back for that curveball and changeup. Then I'll be ready for game-time whenever game-time is and wherever I end up.
Cole: After an entire offseason, do you usually lose the feel a bit over the offseason?
Roark: Yeah, I do. But sometimes it can be hard because someone's not that pushing you. You've got to be inside your head and if you want to make it to the big leagues, you've got to push yourself. Nobody can be there all the time by your side pushing you. It's a lot on yourself. You've got to push it right through.
Cole: What did you do over the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for this season?
Roark: They hand out a manual that's online. You just follow that and try to do the best you can. You work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday and throw bullpens and stuff.
Cole: What was the main thing you were focusing on when you were throwing bullpens in the offseason and out here in Surprise?
Roark: Just keeping my mechanics. I'm not trying to get worked up, because if you get worked up and you get in your head, that's when you really do pretty bad and you get frustrated and can't throw strikes. That's when you're trying to aim pitches instead of throwing them. You have to stay focused, keep your mechanics all in line, and keep everything going towards the plate.
Cole: What have you been working on mechanically?
Roark: My big thing is just trying to keep my front shoulder in. I can always tell when I'm not keeping my shoulder in because then I'm pushing it with my arm. My changeup and curveball are always pushing on the outside corner to a righty. I always try to extend my arm out as far as I can and come towards the plate.
Cole: You finished in Bakersfield last season. What are your thoughts on the way you played there?
Roark: I felt pretty good. I felt like I threw the ball well. The defense behind me was pretty good and so was the offense. I felt pretty good and I'm ready to get the season started this year.
Cole: I know you pitched today with the Double-A club. Have you pitched both your games with Frisco?
Roark: No, I pitched the first game with Hickory and this is my second game with Frisco.
Cole: Do you have any expectations on where you're going to start the season?
Roark: Honestly I'd love to start in Double-A, but wherever they put me, I'll play.
Cole: You were a starter in college but mostly came out of the bullpen last year. Do you know what you're going to be doing this year?
Roark: As far as I know right now, it's just relieving. I'm fine with that as long as I get to play.
Cole: Before last season, had you ever spent much time working out of the bullpen?
Roark: No, I've been a starter for a long time – since I've started playing baseball. But I made the transition from starter to reliever, so I'll get my innings in and do my best.
Cole: Were you comfortable with relieving right away? Did it take some time to get used to having to get hot quickly and all that?
Roark: I remember coming to Bakersfield – I had to pitch the first day I got there. It was against the Modesto Nuts. My nerves were going crazy. That's when you've got to really keep your mechanics all in-tact, and that's when I was flying out a little bit. But my heart was really pumping, my leg when I was coming into the stretch was just shaking nonstop. I thought I was going to balk. I'm excited for this season. I'm glad it's starting right now.
Cole: Have you set any goals for yourself this season?
Roark: I'll work my hardest, do the best I can, and give 110 percent all the time.
SURPRISE, AZ - Coming off an excellent debut campaign, pitcher Tanner Roark is looking to continue that success in his first full season. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 22-year-old for a Q&A session.