One of the benefits of Dave Campanaro and his very helpful staff in Brooklyn allowing me to cover a few Cyclones games every year is that I get to have some background knowledge of guys I’m going to see in the future before other reporters might.
Such is the case with tonight’s starter for the Harrisburg Senators, Adrian Alaniz.
Drafted in the 8th round last year by the Washington Nationals, he went 8-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 13 appearances for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the short season A-Ball New York-Penn League. He struck out 62 batters while walking only eight in 60.1 innings of work.
He’s moved quickly through the system, starting out the year in High-A ball with Potomac and earning a call-up to Harrisburg about a month and a half ago.
I interviewed Alaniz in Brooklyn in July of 2007, and here’s how it went…
Mike Ashmore: You pitched at The University of Texas for four seasons and got to play in the College World Series. Take me through your experience there…
Adrian Alaniz: “It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had. The greatest decision I ever made was to go there. Obviously, it’s a top-notch college program. I faced some pretty stellar athletes and guys throughout that system. I learned a lot, definitely growing as a player each year just being with guys who are already in the big leagues: Huston Street, J.P. Howell, Curtis Thigpen. Just watching them work, I really learned a lot.”
Ashmore: So who were some of the biggest guys you got to face out there?
Alaniz: “Alex Gordon. He was a Nebraska guy, and he was the number two pick. We went to Long Beach one year, and I faced Evan Longoria, who’s obviously doing real well for himself. Just to name a few. There’s a lot of big names out there, but those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head right now.”
Ashmore: Tell me about pitching in the CWS…
Alaniz: “It was awesome. It was a once in a lifetime thing, and I wish we could have done it again. But the experience I got from that, pitching in front of a big crowd of like 20-22,000 people out there…I just gained all that knowledge with having success and I go back to that mindset every time that I’m out there on the mound.”
Ashmore: You were drafted in the eighth round, 250th overall just this year. Take me back to that day, what was that like?
Alaniz: “It was just one of those things I’ve been waiting for for a long time. The year before, I got drafted by the Cardinals in the 36th, but I went back to school because I had another year. But that day, I was just waiting for that phone call like every other guy. I was very fortunate to be taken by the Nationals in the eighth round, and I’m very happy to be where I’m at right now.”
Ashmore: Does having been drafted before kind of take away from the excitement at all?
Alaniz: “The Cardinals, when they took me that one year, I’d kind of thought that I was going to go earlier than that and figured I wasn’t going to go back to school. But when the Nationals took me, I was very excited. I worked hard in the fall and in the spring, and I’m just glad the hard work paid off.”
Ashmore: So you’ve pretty much got video game numbers here in the NYPL so far this season, that must be nice…
Alaniz: “Yeah, that’s something you do in the dynasty in MLB (laughs). But things have been going great for me. I’ve worked hard, and I’ve always been one of those guys that thought hard work pays off, and I’m having fun while I’m at it. A lot of guys might take it a little bit too seriously, but the main thing about it is you’ve got to have fun while you’re playing ball. That’s the main thing I’m doing here. And it helps a lot to have a coaching staff that allows you to do that. My teammates, these guys are amazing. We play as a team, there’s no individual basis things around here. It feels like I’m back in college, just throwing to wood bats.”
Ashmore: So for someone who’s never seen you pitch before, give me a little bit of a self scouting report…
Alaniz: “I’m not a guy that’s going to go in there and overpower anybody. I top out at 92 or so. I do throw a lot of offspeed pitches, and I tend to get guys off-balance. I’m kind of a bulldog competitor out there on the mound. I’m going to work hard every inning, and I’m just going to go out there and do my work. It’s nothing special, it’s just getting after it every inning, every pitch.”
Ashmore: Any sort of timetable on when you think you’ll get to the big leagues?
Alaniz: “That’s something that’s up to the front office. Obviously, you want to make it up there as quick as you can. If I keep producing the way I am, I figure everything will play out the way I want it to.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com