Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Interview with Braves prospect J.R. Graham.

A few weeks ago I was able to set up an email interview with J.R. Graham of the Atlanta Braves. If you're unfamiliar with J.R. Graham, he was the Braves 4th round selection in the 2011 MLB Draft out of Santa Clara University. 

Credit: Steven Mantilla/Register & Bee

As of 6/11/2012, he's 7-1 with a 2.58 ERA and averaging 5.75 K/9 and only 1.76 BB/9. Graham is known as a power pitcher and can touch 98-100 MPH with his fastball. He compliments his fastball with an above average slider and a changeup. 

Now that you know the basics with J.R. Graham, let's get to the interview questions!

Brandon Greene: Which player(s) did you look up to when you were younger? 

J.R. Graham: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Tim Hudson. 

BG: At what point did you realize you may have a future in baseball?

J.R.: I've always had the dream of playing professional baseball, but I don't think it really hit me until my sophomore year of high school 

BG: You were a two-way player early in your college career. Do you ever miss playing the field?

J.R.: I do miss it from time to time. That's the nice part of being on a national league team they let us bunt and swing it from time to time. So I get my hitting fix. 

BG: Have you ever been compared to other players in MLB? If so, which stands out the most?

J.R.: I've had a few comparisons. Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt, but the one that stands out most to me and I don't know where it came from was a young Greg Maddux.

BG: What has been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make over the course of your young career?

J.R.: Going from a thrower to a pitcher. I used to get on the mound and just throw as hard as I could and let my stuff take over. 

BG: What were your thoughts when the Braves selected you in the fourth round of the 2011 Draft?

J.R.: I was in disbelief. I hadn't talked to them much before the draft. Once I saw my name going to the Braves I was extremely happy because of the rich history they have of developing pitchers and being a first class organization. 

BG: Do you read into any of the new age stats (Sabermetrics)?

J.R.: Not really. I just go out and play the game. 

BG: What do you like to do in your free time?

J.R.: I like to watch movies and read on occasion. I also enjoy going out on the boat. 

BG: What’s the one song on your iPod or MP3 player you can’t go without hearing?

J.R.: Too many songs to pick from. I love music. Right now my song would be Chiron by All That Remains. 

BG: Do you have any hobbies outside of baseball?

J.R.: Even though I'm not good at it I like to golf. 

BG: Do you ever get compared to Tim Lincecum? 

J.R.: The only comparison I've had with Tim Lincecum is being an undersized pitcher.  

BG: What’s more satisfying? Hitting a home run or striking out a batter?

J.R.: That's a tough one! I'd say striking out a batter. 

BG: Do you have any superstitions?  

J.R.: I have to sleep with my glove the night before I start. 

BG: At the time of this interview, you’re 5-0 with a 2.33 ERA. What do you think has been the key to your success? 

J.R.: Attacking hitters and not letting them get comfortable. 

BG: How do you prepare for a start? (Mentally, physically, etc.)

J.R.: Mentally, I visualize what I want to do the night before and I visualize each pitch I throw. I do this every night before I pitch. Physically, I have a lifting and running routine I stick to. So, when the game comes I know I am physically prepared to preform. 

BG: Last question, what piece of advice would you give to a young pitcher that’s hoping to be drafted someday?

J.R.: Follow your dreams.

Thanks again to J.R. Graham for the interview. He's one of the nicest players I've ever spoken to and he's off to a great start to his career. 

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