Friday, February 12, 2010

Q&A With Top Prospect Drew Storen

I recently did a top prospects blog on Washington National's first round pick, Drew Storen. Nicely enough, Drew agreed to "sit down," if you will, with me for a question and answer session. As nervous as I was, this being my first professional interview, Drew talked lightly, and was insanely nice and easy to talk to. Our conversation quickly switched back and forth from baseball, to minor league antics, to mutual friends, to our disdain for PED's. By the end of the interview, I realized that Storen really was as nice as all the articles painted him, and that's exactly how he wants to be known.

Me: This is going to be your first visit to Spring Training. How are you feeling about that?

Drew: Well, kinda nervous because its something new and Ive never been there and I'm kinda excited. I used to go to spring training with my dad so its gonna be kinda cool to be on the other side of it. They gave us the schedule and it said "Yankees and Mets" and its not like the farm teams or minor league teams- it's the actual major league teams so it'll be a little different.

Me: Who did you go see in Spring Training when you were younger?

Drew: We would go see the Red Sox, Twins. They were down there in Florida so we'd always go see them.

Me: Did you grow up a fan of any team in particular?

Drew: I didn't really grow up a fan of any team in particular, but I did like the White Sox. I was a big Frank Thomas fan. I wouldn't say I had a specific team as much as I was fan of a bunch of different players.

Me: Who's your favorite pitcher in the game?

Drew: Mariano [Rivera]. Hard not to like that guy. There's different things about different guys but he's such a professional- just kinda poker face the whole time.

Me: Some people are criticizing the National's organization for planning on rushing you through the minor league system. I was telling you earlier about how I'm not a fan of that- How do you think that's going to affect you when you make it to the show?

Drew: I think its (short pause)...I don't really worry about it. You've seen guys do it before- Zim (Ryan Zimmerman) moved quickly and obviously he's doing ok. They're doing a good job not moving me too quickly. Doing things like the AZ fall league is good preparation. My performance is going to warrant that call and they're also look at the big picture.

Me: You've only spent 3 months in the minors. It hasn't been that long since you were drafted- walk me through draft day.

Drew: We had a big thing of friends and family...probably like 40 people all down in my basement. I had an idea that I could be the pick, but I wasn't for sure. I didn't tell anyone except for my parents. I really had no idea it was gonna happen for sure, it was kinda cool. It happened and then all of a sudden my phone started ringing. I had like 250 texts and however many phone calls... I was up doing interviews all night, I didn't go to bed until late and then the next morning I was on the plane at 7am. It was probably the craziest 24 hours. I still get chills talking about it.

Me: What advice did your family give you when you were drafted?

Drew: A lot. I wouldn't say it was one of those things where my dad was like "let's sit and talk about this." He ingrained in my head a long time to not be "that guy".. to treat people right. I dont want people to meet me and be like "that guy was a jerk." Another thing is, that not gonna cheat to get there, that's not how I like to do things. if I'm going to make it its going to be on my own count and not because some kinda PED (Performance Enhancing Drug).. that's something big for me.

Me: That's so admirable- you seem so natural talking during an interview. Have you always been so open with the media?

Drew: Its just easy because my dad's been in the media (his father is Mark Patrick) and I've always been around it so its really easy for me to do. Its not like reporters aren't people... its easy for me to sit and talk to people.

Me: I just read Odd Man Out by Matt McCarthy, have you read it?

Drew: (laughing) No, I haven't but I've heard so many stories that I feel like I have

Me: Do you read a lot of books about baseball?

Drew: I've read Livin on the Black, Moneyball of course. The only thing is when I drive I listen to books, Ive listen to Outliers and Talent is Overrated.... Freakenomics.

Me: Moneyball- Billy Bean of course- that's kind of you in a way.

Drew: Yeah being drafted out of college.

Me: College and the minors are two totally different atmospheres, I bet.

Drew: Yeah well in college you're playing ball and going to class and flying to games and staying in hotels. The minors aren't quite like that.

Me: Long bus rides, tons of fast food.

Drew: Yeah I think I've had more buffalo wings this last summer than I have my entire life. This summer when I was in AA I went and bought a $4 blow up raft and laid it in the middle of the aisle of the bus so that I could sleep.

Me: That's hilarious. You're known a lot for you low number of walks. You rarely walk a guy- but when you do, how's it make you feel? Walk me through Drew Storen walking back to the rubber after the ump tells the batter to take his base.

Drew: That makes me the most mad of anything- that's what I tell people. Oooooohhhhhh I can not stand walking people! You just look at the numbers. Why not let him put it in play? You have good enough fielders who are gonna make the play, why let the guy have a free pass? Even the best of the best relievers get in trouble because they walk a guy. Especially in big spots like that it just takes that one swing and momentum that changes things. The biggest thing to me is when i get 2 quick outs I never want to fall behind 2-0 to a guy. Everybody does it, but the guys that don't do it as much are the most successful.

Me: What matters most when you're trying to get a guy out? Velocity or getting the ball in the zone?

Drew: Its all about results.. you talk about any major league pitcher or hitter.. it doesn't matter how hard you throw... you gotta get the ball down. I went into the minors going okay-- I'm throwing, I'm going to try and throw it past guys here...That quickly changed.

Me: Haha, yeah, isn't that mentality you had when your second pitch of your career got belted 500 feet over the center field wall this summer?

Drew: Yeah, haha. I realized I need to throw the ball down in the zone. I was going to try and throw it past him, that was a 96 MPH fastball too.

Me: Besides that moment, did you have any other "welcome to pro ball" moments this summer?

Drew: My first week and 1/2 was a welcome to pro ball moment. I would have outings where they were good outings, except for one or two pitches. I'd give up a home run in Hagerstown and it was after falling behind the guy. It was like an acclamation period.

Me: Spring training this year, besides throwing down in the zone, what else do you hope to work on?

Drew: Being quicker to the plate- something that kinda resolved by using a slide step. I'd used it a bit in college, but I used it all the time in the fall league. That and minimizing my pitch count.

Me: If they do throw you in as a starter, what adjustments are you going to need to make with your change-up?

Drew: Oh geeze, I guess get a feel for it, get that confidence, that mental confidence. They haven't said a word to me a bout becoming a starter though, all these wild rumors started flying around.

Me: What's your favorite baseball movie? And choose wisely, I'm really picky about my baseball movies.

Drew: Well you have to love the classics like The Natural and Major League, and of course Field of Dreams.

Me: Perfect answer. Anyone can tell you, I'm obsessed with that movie. Around this time I start getting cabin fever and I'll just put it on to fall asleep with it. I've never not teared up at the "Hey dad, wanna have a catch?" line.

Drew: Oh yeah, and that reminds me of me and my dad. We'd always have a catch- he'd come home in his shirt and tie and throw with me. I also like For Love of the Game. It's got a few cheesy lines but I love the "clear the mechanism." I've never obviously pitched in such an intense game but it really is true, that you have to just clear your mind.

Me: Okay Drew, last question- and most important. Who's your favorite ballplayer of all time?

Drew: Oh uhm... Eric Van Leemer from Summer Catch!

Me: haha, seriously?

Drew: Oh yeah! No one else can rock cut off shirts and leather pants like that guy.

Me: That is an awesome answer.

Drew: Haha, thanks. Real player though, I'd say Ken Griffey Jr. He's always been my favorite. My dream is to face him.


  1. Nice interview. [But might check for typos.]