As the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game — to be held at Waterfront Park on July 15th — draws closer, I thought now would be the best time to start breaking out some of these interviews I’ve been conducting with players from around the league.
The first of these chats will be with Connecticut Defenders pitcher Tim Alderson, who entered the season as the San Francisco Giants fourth best prospect, according to Baseball America.
The 20-year old spun what may have been his best Double-A start so far at Waterfront Park on June 16th, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out five in seven innings of work.
The 22nd overall pick in the 2007 draft and I chatted outside of the Defenders clubhouse for about five minutes and discussed a wide variety of topics…
Mike Ashmore: San Francisco picked you 22nd overall in the 2007 draft. Take me back to that day, what was that like for you?
Tim Alderson: “It was pretty crazy. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I had expectations, but you can’t predict anything on draft day, of course. So I just kind of had to sit there and wait and see how the cards fell. It happened to work out, and I was able to sign kind of early and get out there and play.”
Ashmore: Did you have any plans for college if you weren”t going to sign?
Alderson: “Yeah, I had signed with Oregon state to go play there. But I couldn’t get away from signing with the Giants, so I decided to just go do that.”
Ashmore: Having seen you pitch yesterday, your delivery could certainly be described as unique. How did you start that, and how would you describe it?
Alderson: “I have no idea that I actually look like that. So it feels a lot smoother than it looks, I guess you could say. I didn’t really have a time that I started doing it, because I don’t realize that I really do it.”
Ashmore: It just sort of came natural to you when you first started throwing?
Alderson: “Yeah. I can’t even try to make it look smooth, I guess. I don’t know.”
Ashmore: Has anyone tried to change that delivery since it isn’t very conventional?
Alderson: “Not really. I mean, I can repeat it, so that’s all that matters I guess. They’ve left it alone pretty much.”
Ashmore: And it’s easy for you to repeat since you don’t really notice it, as you’ve said…
Alderson: “Yeah, it’s not like I have to think about how to move my leg a certain way, it just happens that way.”
Ashmore: For people who haven’t had the chance to see you pitch, can you give me a little self-scouting report on what kind of pitcher you are, what pitches you throw, and so on…
Alderson: “I’m real aggressive. I like to go right at the hitters and not waste too many pitches, let my defense work. I’m trying to keep my pitch count down and get deeper into the game. I’m not worried too much about strikeouts, they’ll come when they come. Other than that, I’m just trying to get people into the game.”
Ashmore: People talk about your curveball quite a bit…is that something you consider to be your best pitch? Is it a pitch you work on a lot?
Alderson: “Yeah, it’s definitely one of my best pitches. It’s definitely my strikeout pitch, you can probably figure that out just by watching the game. I just try to keep it down and not try to hang anything. It’s been good so far. I’m working on other pitches, and that’s going good.”
Ashmore: You’re a 20-year-old kid in Double-A, but does it feel that way to you? Has this been as easy as you’ve been making it look?
Alderson: “It’s totally different in Double-A than it was last year or even the beginning of the season this year in High-A. You can tell there are a lot of older guys here who are experienced and know what they’re doing out there. You’ve got to have a better game plan and think more about each pitch before you throw it. It’s definitely not been easy at all. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s a fun battle.”
Ashmore: After that first start you had in Double-A, where you didn’t allow a hit and struck out ten in six and two thirds, were you thinking that they’re all going to be like that?
Alderson: “(Laughs) No. Those type of starts only happen once in a while. You’ve just got to enjoy it, but know that there’s stuff that you need to work on even if you have a game like that. There’s always things you can see after pitching a game like that, you can go out there and find different things to work on.”
Ashmore: Tough to give up the ball after a start like that?
Alderson: “It’s part of the game. It was a smart move by our manager to bring in a lefty with the lineup they had out there.”
Ashmore: You look at yourself, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum…it seems like this organization is going to be set when it comes to pitching for a long time. How much thought do you give to being able to be a part of that at the big league level sometime soon?
Alderson: “It would definitely be fun for that to happen. Madison and I signed at the same time and were drafted in the same class, so it would be fun to get up there together. You can’t help but think about it. We have a lot of fun out there each and every day, so you’ve just got to hope for the best.”
Ashmore: What is something that Bumgarner does better than you, and what’s something you do better than him?
Alderson: “I don’t really know. We have our different styles of pitching. He’s a real hard throwing lefty, and he’s left-handed and I’m right-handed, which is a big part of it. He has different things that he works on, and I have different things that I work on.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com