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Q&A With New York Yankees Pitching Prospect Adam Warren

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Q&A With New York Yankees Pitching Prospect Adam Warren

I've mentioned Adam Warren a lot over the past few months. He really dominated in Staten Island with a 1.43 ERA, a K/9 of 7.9 and a BB/9 of 1.6. That combines for a ridiculous K/BB of 5.0 I ranked Warren the Yankees' 16th best prospect after his strong SI debut. Mike Axisa, over at River Ave. Blues, ranked him the 19th best prospect in the system, saying he is, "polished, pounds the zone, sits low-90’s and has touched 96 with SI … pleasant surprise."

Warren hasn't just received accolades since being drafted, he had a ton of accomplishments at UNC. As you'll see in the interview, he's a smart guy; he was named to the all-ACC academic team as a junior in 2008. He was nominated for the Lowe's senior class award, a real honor. The award is based on how the student performs in the classroom, the community, how he competes, and what his character is. Warren didn't win, but being considered is pretty sweet itself for a young college athlete. I was very impressed with his answers to my questions. Read on:

Greg Fertel: What has the transition from powerhouse UNC to short season professional baseball been like? How different is the level of competition?

Adam Warren: It's been an easy transition for me once I got over the excitement and jitters that come with playing professional baseball. I feel that a school like UNC really helped me to mature as a baseball player and a conference like the ACC helped to prepare me for the next level. I would say that the competition was definitely a step up from college because it’s basically taking the best college guys and putting them on these teams. One thing I did notice about pro ball was that everybody had talent, but some guys weren’t quite yet polished or they had not reached their full potential.

GF: You had a really high ground ball rate in Staten Island. Do most of your ground balls come off of your 2-seam fastball? If not, what's your key to keeping the ball on the ground?

AW: I would have to attribute my ground ball rate mainly to my two seamer and changeup. I worked hard to throw my two seamer to both sides of the plate, especially when I was behind in the count. My pitching coach this summer, Pat Daneker, really helped me to solidify my mechanics which helped to get more movement on that pitch. I have always tried and for the most part been successful at being a low ball pitcher and I think that may have played a role in getting a lot of groundballs.

GF: I’ve heard you’ve been sitting around 93-94 this season. When you were drafted, scouting reports had your velocity a notch below that. Can you tell me what has resulted in this added velocity?

AW: It has been a weird but fun season for me as far as velocity goes. For most of my college career I was always 89-91 and that was my velocity for the first half of my senior season in college. Then all of a sudden my velocity started to jump up to 93-94 the second half of the season and when I got to pro ball I started mixing in some 95s. The only thing that I can attribute to this increase would be that my mechanics are the best they have been and I feel like my arm kept getting stronger. The added velocity has really helped not only from a physical standpoint, but mentally it has allowed me to gain confidence and not have to be as fine.

GF: Can you give me a quick rundown on your repertoire? If you had to give a scouting report on yourself what would you say?

AW: I have a four seam fastball, two seam fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider/cutter (depending on the day). I like to attack with my fastball and use my offspeed pitches to keep hitters off balance and put them away. I pitch to both sides of the plate with pretty good fastball location and I like to keep the ball low. I’m not a guy that’s going to overwhelm you with nasty stuff every pitch, but I have a good feel for pitching and the mental side of the game.

GF: What are you up to this offseason? Do the Yankees have you doing anything specific or are you just getting some rest?

AW: This offseason I plan to take a few weeks off from baseball and then hit the weights hard. I take strength and conditioning very seriously and I want to be in better shape than I was last year. The Yankees have given us a big packet on different stretching, lifting and running exercises that they want us to do. I probably won’t even pick up a ball until late December or January, and then I will follow the throwing program the Yankees gave us that leads up until spring training.

GF: Have the Yankees given you any indication about where you’ll be next season? Where would you like to start the season?

AW: No, I really haven’t heard anything about where I will start next season just because I’m not sure if anyone knows right now. I think a realistic goal for me would be to start in Tampa and go from there.

GF: You were able to cut your walk rate in half between North Carolina and Staten Island this year. Was this a change in approach or were you just more effectively commanding your pitches?

AW: It was definitely a change in approach. Last year, I would describe myself as tentative and therefore it led to a lot more walks because I was trying to be so fine with my pitches. I came into this year with this mindset that I was going to make hitters beat me instead of giving them free passes. I believe this change in approach really allowed me to get ahead of hitters and use all of my pitches effectively.

GF: Tell me about some of your goals for the 2010 season.

AW: My number one goal next season would be to continue to improve each outing. I feel there are areas of pitching that I still need to work on and I want to continue to work towards becoming the best pitcher I can be. Some of the main areas I want to improve are offspeed consistency and continue to learn what pitches to throw in certain counts. There are some more obvious goals that I have for next season such as advancing through the system, making the All-Star team, and having a good season statistically.

GF: Are there any players in particular who you developed your game after?

AW: I really admire pitchers that are bulldogs on the mound. By that I mean guys who attack and they don’t back down from any situation. One pitcher that comes to mind is Mike Mussina just because he had that type mentality and he just went about his business unphased by the situation. I feel that is one of my strong qualities is that I try to show no emotion on the mound so the opposition never knows what I’m thinking.

GF: What stats do you generally look at to measure your success?

AW: One of my favorite stats is probably walk to strikeout ratio, just because I have realized from first hand experience how devastating walks can be. Another stat I like is one you mentioned earlier, groundball to flyball ratio. I feel like most hard hit balls are in the air, so if I can keep the ball on the ground I feel like I have a better chance at succeeding. And of course I can’t leave out everybody’s favorite statistic, ERA. Even though ERA can be misleading at times, it is a number most people use to measure how well a pitcher is doing so I feel like you can’t completely ignore it

GF: Who did you play with in Staten Island that really impressed you?

AW: We had a very talented team this summer, but two guys that I enjoyed watching play were Jimmy Paredes and Neil Medchill. Jimmy is a guy that has all the tools a baseball player could want. It seemed like he would have a multi-hit game just about every night. Neil wowed everyone in Staten Island with his power. He not only led the New York Penn league in homers, but no one was even close.

GF: I was a student at the University of Maryland the past few years. UNC destroyed us year after year. Would you say that Maryland was the easiest team to beat in the ACC?

AW: There always seem to be one game during the weekend series where Maryland would give us trouble. Maryland always seemed to put a bunch of tough-nosed guys out on the field so no I wouldn’t say they were the easiest team to beat in the ACC.

 

Thanks to Adam for taking the time to answer my questions. It appears the Yankees got a steal in the 4th round of the 2009 draft.

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