I was in Geneva, Ill. about a week and a half ago to catch a couple Kane County Cougars games, and while there, spoke at length with A's draft picks Sam Demel and Josh Horton. I'll post some of my conversation with Demel in this diary, but for the rest you'll have to click here. Sorry for not posting the whole thing, but I'd be in trouble if I did...
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The former TCU closer, now a right-handed setup man for the Cougars, got off to a rough start with Stockton in his initial venture into pro ball, but has been lights out for Kane County, helping the Cougars to a 2.47 team ERA in the month of August and a shot at the Midwest League playoffs. What’s more, Demel is yet another example of the type of character guys that Oakland seems to stock their organization with.
Ryan Armbrust: In your first experience in pro ball, things didn’t go quite as well as you might have liked. You had some trouble with your command (15 walks in 14.0 innings), but since you’ve come to Kane County, you’ve yet to walk a batter. What’s changed, or what have you done differently, if anything?
Sam Demel: My experience in Stockton was really good, for a first experience going to a league with a bunch of veteran guys. I’d leak off information from them, try to get some basics away from them on minor league baseball, the transition, the differences. It was a lot for me to soak in at one time. When I was there, everything was going faster, it was a lot quicker game, and there was a lot of learning stuff. I was going through and learning that the strike zone is a lot different than in college. I was giving hitters too much credit, struggling with my command, and I came back here [to Kane County] and I was just like, "you know what, I’m here for a reason. Basically, screw it, here it comes." And it’s been working a lot better.
RA: At TCU, you were a closer for the last two years, and previous to that you were a starter in high school. Now you’re not filling either of those roles as a middle reliever. Has anything changed in how you approach your job?
SD: No, not at all. I just take the mentality of, "the eighth inning is the ninth inning." That’s my inning to go out there and blow ‘em away and turn it over to [Andrew] Carignan to end the game. The mentality is the same, you can’t give up anything, and every out is just as important as a run. The mentality is the same, it just comes an inning earlier.
RA: So even though there’s ostensibly less pressure, you still go about your job the same way?
SD: Yeah, I look at the pressure as the same, there’s no difference about pitching the ninth except that we get one more AB.
RA: Being a reliever now, is there a reliever that you’d compare yourself to or model yourself after?
SD: No, not really. I like to be a student of the game. I grew up watching [Greg] Maddux throw, now watching [Roy] Oswalt in Houston throw. I just try to watch how they pitch, and incorporate that into my own game, and try to build off of that.
RA: If you had to give a scouting report on yourself, what’s your best pitch, or your out pitch?
SD: It depends on what’s working on a given day. That’s one of the greatest things about my attributes, that one day it’s my fastball, the next day it could be my slider, and then it could be my change. I’ll throw my change to any batter, any count, any situation. In the regional my last game in college, it was 3-2, bases loaded, we were up by one, bottom of the ninth. I threw a 3-2 changeup to the guy, punched him out to end the game. So what I mean is that it’s whatever feels good that day.
For the rest of my interview with Sam Demel, please follow this link.