Sunday, January 26, 2014

Joe Michaud Interview

As a part of the preview for the upcoming short season pitching depth chart, I'm launching an interview series with a few recent 2013 draftees slated to commence in Vermont/AZL or possibly even Beloit come 2014. First up is Joseph Michaud, a 33rd round senior out of upstart Bryant. Joe was gracious enough to grant me bit of time and catch me up on his offseason and plans going forward as a professional:


CK:  Thank you for the interview, Joe. First off how has the offseason been treating you? 

JM: The offseason has been going really well. I’m happy with the lifting/conditioning program, and it feels great to be throwing again. It’s also a huge plus being able to spend a little more time at home with my family than I’ve been able to the last few years.


CK: Coming from Connecticut, and specifically Milford, ever heard of Evan Scribner? 

JM: I have heard a lot about Evan Scribner. He’s what guys in my position aspire to be; he went to college in the northeast, got drafted in the late rounds, and worked his way through the system step by step all the way to the big leagues. I played against his brother, Troy, in college, and was fortunate enough to meet Evan during instructional league this past fall. He was a good guy, very down to Earth.

CK: What were your expectations heading into draft day? Did you expect to be selected or was the 33rd round pickup a surprise? A disappointment? 

JM: I ended my season sourly against Arkansas, so going into draft day I really didn’t know what to expect. I assumed that IF I was picked, it would be rounds 30-40 or as a free agent. I had the draft tracker up all day watching, and eventually saw my name. I was in sheer disbelief. It was the most euphoric feeling I’ve experienced in my life.


CK: You started primarily at Bryant making 22 starts over your upperclassman career, however took more to the bullpen in your first innings as a professional. Are you more comfortable one way or another?

JM: Pitching out of the bullpen really grew on me. I’ve always said that I wasn’t comfortable out of the pen, but the more I got used to the routine, the better I started feeling when I got out there. The ultimate bonus of being in the bullpen in the AZL was getting to share a bench with Bob Welch [Former Cy Young winner, current A's pitching instructor]; a truly one-of-a-kind man, and an amazing baseball mind.


CK: What was your experience like your first few games as a professional?

JM: My first few games as a professional were a little nerve wracking. The lack of a big crowd of fans in the AZL helped me to relax at first, but the biggest adjustment I noticed was learning that a 90mph fastball sneaks by no one anymore. It’s a cute pitch, but unless I located it and got some sink to it, it got hit hard…often.

CK: You were one of the lucky AZLers to get a bump up to Vermont before the season ended. What was difference in competition like out there compared to Arizona?

JM: The major difference that I noticed between the AZL and NYPL hitters was that they showed more discipline at the plate. Pitches that I may expect a chase out of in rookie ball were taken for balls in Vermont. It emphasized to me the importance of mixing pitches and keeping the hitters off balanced.

CK: You struck out 30 batters in your first 19 pro frames, one of the more successful strikeout marks of any 2013 draftee. Do you consider yourself a strikeout arm? Or more of a weak contact type?

JM: I was fortunate to get a good amount of strikeouts this year, but am in no way a strikeout pitcher. My fastball has never reached higher than 92, and my changeup in a work in progress to say the least. I really just try and keep the hitters off balance best I can and hope for weak contact. If they strike out, then so be it, but a double play ball would be preferable.

CK: What pitches do you have?

JM: I throw a fastball (primarily a 2 seam fastball), a slurve, and a changeup. I try and sink my fastball due to the lack of velocity. The pitch I am most comfortable with is my breaking ball

CK: Out of those, which one do you aim to improve the most headed into your first preseason MiLB camp?

JM: My changeup is really iffy as of right now, but once I develop a feel for that, I know it will be a really important pitch for me in the future. Also, the thing that I need to improve the absolute most is being able to command the inner half of the plate with my fastball. I’ve always been timid when it comes to throwing in, and if I want to succeed and move up, that’s got to end now.

CK: Do you believe starting off in Beloit could be an achievable goal for you headed into 2014?

JM: I would assume that since I am only going to extended spring training, Beloit is not going to happen for me right away. However, I am taking my offseason work seriously, and if I start in Vermont, I will try and play as well as I can to build a resume that would warrant me being called up. Until then, I can only focus on controlling what I can control.

In 19 innings (12 appearances/2 starts), Michaud allowed 21 H, 8 ER (1 HR), 10 BB and struck out 30 along with a 2.33 GB/FB ratio that ranked second amongst 2013 draftees behind Dylan Covey. He'll turn 23 on April 4th. 

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