Q: Drafted by the Blue Jays in the 27th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, can you talk about what the draft process was like for you the first time around and if there was the temptation to forego collegiate baseball at the time? Were the Blue Jays showing the most interest in you leading up to the draft?
A: I really enjoyed the entire draft process. I loved hearing about what all these organizations had to offer and what they were about. I think anytime you put the potential opportunity to play professional baseball in any player’s face; it would be very tempting. Every ballplayer wants to play pro ball and, eventually, the big leagues, so getting the chance to pursue that dream right after high school was very intriguing.
I ended up making the decision to go to school, and looking back now it really was the right choice, I love being at Clemson. The Blue Jays did seem to show more interest out of high school, and I had a very good relationship with Coulson Barbiche, the area scout of the Blue Jays, which I believe helped a lot too.
Q: You played in two wood-bat leagues, the Northwoods League in summer 2018 and Cape Cod League during summer 2019. What goals did you set out for yourself each time, and, if anything, what were you trying to fix mechanically?
A: I just wanted to improve during the summer leagues. I think summer ball is a great opportunity to improve on stuff that you really couldn’t work on during the school year, and for me, it was constantly working on a consistent delivery and improving a certain pitch.
Q: As a bullpen guy in your freshman and sophomore years, you made four starts before the shutdown while posting a 0.79 ERA in 22.2 innings. What can you attribute to the success you experienced in a limited sample size this year, and do you see yourself as a starter at the next level?
A: A lot of the credit goes to our sports psychologist at Clemson, Cory Schafer, and my pitching Coach, Andrew See. With them and some ideas from other players that I played with during the summer, we developed a plan during the fall about making improvements. I wanted to start, and Coach See was willing to give me an opportunity if I could make improvements in the strike zone.
We went with a different throwing program because before I was a big long toss guy and I still like to occasionally, but we thought it might have been throwing me out of wack. We shortened my throwing distances and implemented an overweight/oversize – underweight/undersized ball throwing program. This allowed me to gain some feel with different balls, and when I got the regular baseball in my hand, it helped a ton.
Our sports psych, Cory Schafer, was also monumental in the changes that I made mentally. We worked every week together about developing a routine, relaxing, composure, breathing, journaling, and the list goes on. I was able to find a middle ground between being a very “amped up” competitive guy and totally relaxed, controlled violence.
With all of this help from both of them, along with other teammates, I made significant improvements and won a starting job. I absolutely see myself as a starter in the future. I know that I can continue to develop more pitches and improve in the zone.