The Washington Nationals' second '09 1st Round pick, relief pitcher Drew Storen, made his MLB debut last week in St. Louis with 0.2 scoreless IP against the Cardinals, and his Nationals Park debut last Wednesday against New York after having pitched 53.2 innings from A-ball to Triple-A since signing with the Nats shortly after the MLB Draft last June. In his quick trip through the system, the 22-year-old Brownsburg, Indiana-born, Stanford educated right-handed reliever was (2-1) with a 1.23 ERA, 15 saves, a 0.82 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 before he got the call to join the big league club. In Sunday's outing against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, with his family in attendance for the first time in the nation's capital, the future closer (if all goes as planned) pitched 1.2 innings in relief, allowing a walk and recording a K as well as his first Major League hit in his first AB...(during which he apparently wore the bat boy's helmet). Drew Storen was kind enough to take five minutes before Saturday's game to answer some questions I put together with the help of some of Federal Baseball's readers...
Federal Baseball (FB): Is there anything the Nats asked you to work on after Spring Training that you focused on while you were in the minors?
Drew Storen: "Not really, just kind of the same thing we talked about the whole time, fastball command and just make sure I work in the zone and not fall in love with my breaking ball..."
FB: That slider that you got Scott Moore out with [Friday] night was working..."
Drew Storen: "It was alright, I haven't really thrown a lot of breaking balls since I've been up here, and I've been trying to work on my fastball, and just throwing what Pudge [Rodriguez] calls..."
FB: "That leads into the next question, did the Nationals ask you to change your pitch selection somewhat, because I know in interviews before your debut you said you threw five pitches out of the pen and were going to continue to do so..."
Drew Storen: "They haven't really asked me to do too much, so that's good, they kind of let me stick with what I've been doing, but at the same time I always ask a lot questions and try to make adjustments where I need to."
FB: Having pitched from A-ball all the way to the Majors in less than a year, have you noticed a big difference in the strike zone you're seeing all the way up or the way the games are called?
Drew Storen: "You know, I wouldn't say the strike zone, I mean it is different, but it is what it is, it's not really something that...you have to be so much more precise with your pitches anyway here that you can't be all over the place, which I kind of have been, so that's kind of something I've been working on, but you don't really notice a big difference in the strike zone..."
FB: Do you think that's nerves going out there in the beginning?
Drew Storen: "Uh, I don't think so, I think it's just kind of adjusting to it and just kind of a mental thing and telling myself to attack a hitter and stuff like that, it's just kind of settling in..."
FB: "Did [Stephen] Strasburg have anything to say to you when you got the call up?"
Drew Storen: "Yeah, oh yeah, he was pumped and he sent me a text the morning after my debut in St. Louis, so that was cool to see he was keeping tabs, and, you know, I'm sure I'll be chatting with him here soon in person, so..."
FB: "Anyone you pitched with in the minors that you think is going to have an impact in the near future other than Strasburg?"
Drew Storen: "You know, Brad Meyers is off to a great start, but there's a lot guys. Tommy Milone's gotten some press, and he's one of the favorite guys I used to like watching pitch, because he's not a guy that tries to do a whole lot. There's a lot of guys that'll have [an impact], we have great pitching all the way through, I wouldn't sit there and coin just those two guys, but those are the two guys that come to mind as some of my favorite guys to come in after, so I'm excited to see what they're gonna do."
FB: "[One of our readers] asked about noticing that you'd switched your delivery somewhat since you came up and they were wondering if the Nationals asked you to?"
Drew Storen: "No that was all me. I was kinda just watching, comparing video from when I was throwing in the [Arizona] Fall League and kind of a comfort level too, so those were adjustments that I made, and I'm big on making adjustments each time out, and they're probably not going to be as major as that, but you know, the stuff was there last night, I was happy with the way it was coming out of my hand, I just wasn't really executing the pitch all the way through. "
"Storen said he'll routinely watch video to give his delivery a kind of check-up, though he's obviously got access to more of it in the majors than he had in the minors or in college. He said over the course of a season, a series of little adjustments or bad habits can add up to a big change without a reliever even realizing it."