Friday, December 23, 2011

Shaeffer Hall Interview

I was lucky enough to get an internship with the Kansas City Chiefs this past semester.  One of the other interns happened to be Shaeffer Hall, a Yankees' pitching prospect, who pitched most of last season in AA (Trenton Thunder).  He was gracious enough to let me interview him as our internship was wrapping up.  Here is a transcript of the interview.  Enjoy.  

Me: Lets start from the beginning. Out of high school you went to junior college.  What was the reason behind that?

Shaeffer (S): Well I got drafted out of high school and back in 2006, the year I got drafted out of high school, it was the last year of the draft and follow.  I could go to junior college and still have the ability to sign so I though by going to junior college it would give me multiple avenues to decide where I wanted to go. At that time I was able to wait throughout the year, go to school, get a school year out of the way and still be able to sign with a division one school.  It game me more options to work with.

Me: Then you transferred to Kansas.  What was the best part of being a student athlete at Kansas?

S: You know, being able to play in the Big 12.  That was a pretty good stepping stone for me.  Playing against the competition as great.  Being at Kansas they treat there student athletes first class.  They have tutors for you. They have a great strength and conditioning program.  They have good trainers.  All the coaches are great.  Had some great teammates there.  The entire Kansas experience was pretty awesome.

Me: What is your biggest strength as a pitcher?
S: Probably my competitiveness.  I think that its definitely a big part of pitching, being able to compete and not letting down.  I'm not known to have all the best stuff in the world but I think my physical makeup and just being able to compete and not wanting to lose is a big part of my success.  Also the self-confidence I have in myself to get hitters out and my ability to pitch at a high level.

Me: What is your biggest weakness as a pitcher?

S: I think that getting too competitive is not always a good thing.  If something bad happens I think sometimes I get worked up a little bit to much and get caught up in the moment.  Not letting it go, not flushing it.  Not just moving onto the next pitch and that can hurt you in a way.  The next hitter can add to it and capitalized on what happens.  I think that's kind of a weakness that I need to work on.

Me: What would you say is your best pitch?

S: Tough to say.  I think it just depends on the day.  I do have a 4 pitch mix.  I feel that I'm pretty comfortable with all of them.  Some days it might be my change-up.  Some days it might be my cutter.  Some days it might be the location of my fastball.  I don't necessarily have one specific pitch that stands out.  I think it depends on the day.

Me: What is the hardest you've ever thrown?

S: This might be hard to believe but the hardest I ever threw was a 92 mph fast ball.  Now I don't know if the gun was broke but that was probably the hardest I've ever recorded.

Me: Throughout your time as a pitcher who was the best hitter you ever faced?

S: I've faced some pretty good hitters in the past.  Some big name guys. Like Chase Utley, I faced him in High A.  I faced Curtis Granderson last spring training, that was in a simulated game, me and [Hector] Noesi were going back and forth. We faced the same hitters but they just like a simulated game. They had Curtis Granderson there.  There is one other guy.  Vladamir Guerrero.  So those three guys those are probably the best hitters I've faced.

Me:  Before you talked about being going to junior college after getting drafted.  You were then drafted two more times.  What made the third time the charm?

S: I think there was a lot that played into it.  One, it would be my junior year of college. I already had two years out of the way.  I was drafted by a great organization.  Something told me the third time getting a chance to play professional baseball, when a lot of guys don't.  That was the right time to take that opportunity and go with it.  I definitely don't regret that decision I made, so far.  The hardest part of leaving was leaving the KU (Kansas) teammates I left behind but they were all for it and all supported me.  So it was a great decision and I don't regret it at all.

Me: Then the transition from college to minor league ball.  How tough was that transition?

S: I personally think that its more difficult for some then other.  I felt like competing at KU, pitching on Friday nights in the big 12, playing in the cape cod summer league, those prepared me for minor league ball.  I didn't really have a huge transition.  It definitely prepared me very well for it.

Me: I'm sure you've come up through the Yankee system with some other guys.  Who are the guys that you are closest with in the Yankees system?

S:  Adam Warren, I've been teammates with him ever since Staten Island, that was our first short season together.  Kind of goes back to pitching against each other in the regional at North Carolina [during college].  He is one of my closest friend in the organization.  Graham Stoneburner is another pitching prospect as you might know.  Been with him each year going up. Those two guys are pretty close to me. Being pitchers you kind of stick together.

Me:  Of the prospects that you've played with, who do you think will have the best major league career?

S:  That tough.  Being in the Yankees organization there are a lot of good prospects and there are a lot of good people. It's hard to say who is going to have a great career.  I'm gonna give a shout out to Adam Warren, Manny [Banuelos], Dellin [Betances], and Austin Romine. I think those guys are going to have great careers in the bigs and are going to be playing for a long time.

Me: Yankees have a lot of catching depth in the minors.  Of the ones you have pitched to who do you think is the best and has the most promise going forward?

S: I think Austin Romine, I threw to him all year at AA. Haven't thrown to Montero yet.  But I think Romine has definitely has shown that he deserves to play at that next level and has had some success. So i think Romine.

Me:  Of Austin Romine, Jesus Montero, and Gary Sanchez, the big three Yankees catcher, who do you think has the brightest future? 

S: I've seen all of them play. They are all great catchers. I think they are all going to have success in the big leagues.  Now who has the biggest impact? I think the sky's the limit for each of them.

Me: You had the opportunity to pitch with Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos for most of the season.  Which one do you feel have better stuff going forward.

S: Manny and Dellin feed of each other and being in the same rotation as them throughout the season was pretty cool.  You kind of sense the competitive nature throughout our entire staff.  Each night out we wanted to better then the night before. So that made us all better.  But to answer the question of who is going to have the most success in the big leagues. I think they are both going to have tremendous success. I don't think one is going to be better.  I think they are going to be there own pitcher and it depends on how hard they are going to work and how much effort they are willing to put into it.

Me: You were called to AAA for one start, had a very nice start, but were then sent back down, what were the circumstances behind that?

S: I wasn't really sure. They didn't really give me any reason behind it.  That kinda led to some frustration but I understood the situation. All I can really do is control how I throw.  I felt going up to AAA to get some experience and having some success up there definitely gave me some confidence as I went back down to AA.  I think I had a good July so I think that helped me out through of the year.

Me: Robert Lyerly got called up to AA about halfway through the season.  He had incredible success at High A, what are you feelings on him going forward?

S:  He definitely got some pop.  Can drive the ball to the opposite field.  Gap to gap hitter. I think he definitely has some major league power.  He is also a great teammate and a great person to be around.

Me:  What is it like when someone like an Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez come up through a rehab start?

S:  Oh its always sweet to play with those guys. They are the best at what they do. They've been in the league for 15 plus years. Just being around them. see what they do every day, their pregame routine.  How they handle different situation, how they carry themselves on and off the field is a great learning experience.  It definitively shows the guys who are trying to work there way up, what its like to play at that level.  So it's definitively a great experience for not only me but the other guys who get to experience that.

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