Friday, June 20, 2008

Q&A with Mike Minor

It seems like just yesterday Mike Minor was a freshman, pitching in relative anonymity behind David Price. Now, he's already a junior.

The left-hander went 7-3 with a 4.28 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 103 innings as a sophomore after going 9-1 with a 3.09 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 90.1 innings as a freshman. Despite the statistical dip, Minor said there is no question he is a better pitcher.

He is playing for Team USA for the second straight summer and took some time to answer some questions from The Sports VU after the Americans' 8-3 victory over Newport about a number of topics, including the reason for his struggles, the development of his third pitch, the dedication of pitching coach Derek Johnson and expectations for next season.

Sports VU: Describe the feeling of wearing that Team USA jersey.
Mike Minor: It’s always a lot of fun to put the USA jersey and representing wherever go, but especially in Newport, such a big town, on the coast. The ballpark in itself is just different – you never see fences this high all the way around, nowhere past 360, restaurant in right field. It’s a pretty cool place.

SV: What it’s like not having Pedro (Alvarez) and Flash (Ryan Flaherty) around this summer?
MM: I had to go with the guys and get to know everybody else instead of just lingering towards Pedro and Flash and having them create friends for me. I had to do it all on my own this year except for Goldy, and he’s with the coaches most of the time.

SV: It seems like you were a freshman. And now you’re about to be a junior. Can you believe it?
MM: I was actually thinking about that the other day. Next year – that’s the big year. It seemed like just the other day I was with Pedro and Flash and they were the big dogs and now I’m at the top, ready to go hopefully in the draft next year.

SV: How excited are you for next year?
MM: I think I’ll be better, be more experienced and I feel like I won’t make as many mistakes and I’ll be more of a leader for the younger guys.

SV: Have you had a chance to evaluate what you did well this season and what you can improve?
MM: I tried to be a leader out there and set the tone on Friday nights, but a lot of times I would get mad at myself if I made a bad pitch here or there. I was too hard on myself and that’s what I need to learn from and next year, just let it go by.

SV: Statistically, you may not have had as good a season as a sophomore, but I’d imagine that you are much better pitcher now than you were there then.
MM: Definitely. Last year I was right behind Price and they were like “let’s just focus on Price, Price, Price,” and then I would get out there and they were like “who’s this guy?” They really didn’t know who I was and now this year, everybody knew I had a changeup so everybody sat on my changeup and hit my changeup. I feel like I’m a better pitcher and developing my third pitch and throwing it more so people can sit on my changeup.

SV: What’s the third pitch?
MM: Slider, but I’m actually working on a curve over the next couple of weeks too so there might be four.

SV: Talk about what it’s like to play for DJ (pitching coach Derek Johnson)?
MM: He’s so dedicated. We lost our last game in the Regional and everybody’s just looking ahead to summer ball and he’s already next year and what we need to work on. We had a meeting for two hours that night just talking about next year and the year just got over. That just shows you how dedicated he is.

SV: Looking ahead to next year, the pitching staff has a chance to be pretty good.
MM: I’m pretty excited about that because I’m a pitcher and don’t really care what the hitters do. You’ve got Sonny Gray and Navery Moore coming in and a lot of guys. Those are just the guys I know from close by. I’m pretty pumped to see what they’ve got and show them tips and have them lean on my shoulder.

SV: Is it tough to watch LSU and Georgia competing in Omaha, knowing it could be you guys?
MM: I feel like we can compete with them, but I guess this year we just couldn’t come together like we did the year before and there were just so many obstacles we would’ve had to overcome to get to Omaha.

SV:
How impressive has Kentrail Davis (Tennessee) been so far?
MM: Him and the other SEC guys, Hunter Morris (Auburn). They just light up in BP and in the games. It makes me feel pretty good because during the season they didn’t do much against me.

SV: Learn anything from the other pitchers out in the bullpen?
MM: I learned a couple new grips and new pitches. Drew Pomeranz (Ole Miss) throws a crazy 12-6 knuckle-curve that I’ll never try because it looks too hard.

1 comment:

newyorkdore said...

Hey Jarred. Thanks for the Cape roundup for thecollegebaseballblog.com. Nice stuff.