INTERVIEW: JAKE BARRETT

Photo:MiLB.com

RHP Jake Barrett is currently mowing down batters in the hiA California League as the closer for the Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks). The Blue Jays drafted Barrett as a starter out of Desert Ridge High School (Phoenix, AZ) in the 3rd round in 2009, but he elected to stay home and go to college at Arizona State. His last year in college, 2012, Barrett was converted to the closer position and when he was drafted that year, it was the Arizona Diamondbacks who picked him in the 3rd round. Pretty good luck for the local kid.

Heading straight to the professional ranks, a 25-game stint with loA South Bend didn’t go as well as planned. 24 2/3 IP, 28 hits, 13 BB and 25 K’s for a 1.66 WHIP were the result of trying to adjust to an extended season of baseball.

Baseball America ranked Barrett as Arizona’s #19 overall prospect heading into 2013 and noted plus pitches in his fastball (93-96, topping at 98) and a hard slider. At 6-3, 230, Jake Barrett is very much a power pitcher and his jump to hiA Visalia couldn’t be going much better.

In 15 appearances, Barrett has dominated over 15 IP with 10 saves and a crazy 2 BB/23 K ratio, while giving up only 8 hits and 2 ER. His one bad outing, May 1 against Modesto, Barrett coughed up a 5-4 lead in the top of the 9th by allowing a 2-run homer. But even that turned out alright as the Rawhide rallied in the bottom of the inning for a 7-6 win and Barrett was the benificiary of the sometimes-crazy scoring in baseball as he was credited with the win.

I spoke with Barrett before the season started as the Visalia Rawhide were being introduced to the media. Here he was 10 saves and 23 strikeouts ago, getting ready for the season: 

DO YOU LIKE PITCHING OUT OF THE BULLPEN MORE THAN STARTING?
I do. I love it out of the bullpen because it is more of an adrenaline rush, and I’m an adrenaline type of guy. That’s how I get going.

AND YOU’RE THE CLOSER, CORRECT?
Yes, the back end of the bullpen, closer.

LAST YEAR WAS YOUR FIRST FULL SEASON AS A PROFESSIONAL. WAS THAT A LONG SEASON FOR YOU?
Yeah, coming straight from college and straight to a full season, it was the longest season I have ever been a part of.

DID YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT THIS OFFSEASON TO PREPARE?
Oh, yeah. I just did a lot more conditioning than I was used to because I didn’t have to be worried about school. I was strictly just working out and focusing on the upcoming season. That’s what I did, get myself in shape.

BASEBALL AMERICA’S PRESEASON REPORT ON YOU MENTIONS YOU WERE FATIGUED LAST YEAR AND IT CAUSED A DROP IN VELOCITY. WAS THE FATIGUE PARTLY BECAUSE YOU WERE COMING OUT OF THE BULLPEN AND THROWING HARDER?
Coming straight from college, I wasn’t used to pitching every day, and that is where the fatigue kicked in. I didn’t know whether to save my bullets or not. I was going out there trying to throw as hard as I can and I wasn’t used to that every day.

HOW IS THE WORK ON YOUR CHANGEUP COMING? IS IT GETTING TO BE A PLUS PITCH FOR YOU?
I wouldn’t say it is one of my plus pitches, it is more of an average pitch. It is my third pitch. But I am pretty comfortable with it now. Last year it probably wasn’t one of my best, but it’s getting up there now. I have improved a lot with it.

YOU GOT DRAFTED BY THE BLUE JAYS IN 2009 BUT YOU WENT TO COLLEGE INSTEAD. THEN LAST YEAR YOU GOT DRAFTED BY THE DIAMONDBACKS. THAT WORKED OUT PRETTY WELL, DIDN’T IT?
I felt like it was all meant to be, for a reason. And I felt like I got lucky being drafted by the Diamondbacks this time. It’s close to home since I’m from Arizona.

HOW DO YOU LIKE THE ORGANIZATION?
Oh, I love it. I love it.

THE DIAMONDBACKS ARE EMPHASISING PITCHING IN THEIR SYSTEM. WHO HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO WORK WITH THAT HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST?
I wouldn’t say there is anyone in particular who has helped me out the most but so far pretty much everybody has given me a lot of tips of what to do and what to work on.

DO YOU HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SEASON AS FAR AS WHAT YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? NUMBERS YOU ARE TARGETING OR GETTING PROMOTED?
Not so much numbers-wise, but just keeping a low ERA and just helping out the team to try to get that ring. If anything, it is always a plus when you get moved up, so that’s always a good thing too. That would be nice.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO VISALIA BEFORE BEING SENT HERE THIS YEAR?
No, it’s my first time. I’m enjoying it so far and the weather’s nice. I know, like any other summer, it is going to get hot. But I’m from Arizona so I’ll be perfectly fine with that.

Thanks to Jake Barrett, Josh Jackson and the Visalia Rawhide for the interview.

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