23 year old Astros pitching prospect Brady Rodgers pitched in 29 games, including 27 at the Astros High-A minor league affiliate, Lancaster. Recently, I interviewed him about getting drafted by his childhood team and what he is looking forward to next year. Enjoy!
Tyler Stafford: Before we get any further, I need to know one thing. What is the greatest movie of all time?
Brady Rodgers: I’m a big movie critic and love watching movies, but by far the greatest movie of all time would have to be Forrest Gump. It has everything you look for in a movie. Sports, war, comedy, romance, history, etc. Just an overall great movie!
TS: I hear you’re an outdoorsman. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, what three things are you’re bringing with you?
BR: You got that right! I love the outdoors. Well the first thing you need is fire or else you’re toast. So I need a lighter, a knife and a bow so I can get some hunting in.
TS: You grew up as an Astros fan in Richmond, Tx, half an hour from the Astrodome. How many games did you get to go growing up? Who were your favorite players to watch as a kid?
BR: I didn’t see too many games in the Astrodome, but I experienced 5-10 games there. Now when it comes to Minute Maid, I have seen a ton of games including the Homerun Derby when Miguel Tejada beat Lance Berkamn. There were so many great players that I got to watch in an Astros uniform, but of course, I have to go with the obvious and say Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. Also when Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens came to Houston, that was pretty awesome to see because those are two Hall of Fame pitchers that I got to watch every time they pitched.
TS: Describe your emotions when you got the call that the Astros took you with the first pick in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Did you have any idea that that was a possibility heading in to Draft Day?
BR: The draft is such a crazy day because you have every team saying they like you and want to take you and then they end up drafting another guy, so it’s pretty hectic but the Astros showed interest and I had no idea when they were going to call me. But when I got that call, a weight was lifted off my shoulders and it gives me chills every time i think about it. I mean, not only is it hard enough to get drafted, but to get drafted by your hometown team and the team you grew up watching every day.
TS: At what point in your life did you know you were going to be playing baseball professionally? Did you immediately start perfecting your autograph?
BR: My entire life my goal was to play professional baseball, but I realized that I had the opportunity when I committed to Arizona State because ASU has the reputation of producing big leaguers. I knew if I put in the hard work and dedication then I would be given the chance to play professionally. All through high school, the teacher probably thought I was taking notes, but if you looked in my notepad it was probably pages of my signature.
TS: You finished your last year at Arizona State University with a record of 10-3 and an ERA of 2.27. After signing with the Astros, you were assigned to Tri-City, the Astros Single-A affiliate, where you posted very similar numbers, going 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA. What would you say were the biggest adjustments (if any) you made to your pitching and your approach on the mound from college to professional ball?
BR: I wouldn’t say there was much of a difference when it comes to the hitters. Coming out of a tough conference and facing good hitters in the Pac12, it was pretty similar to pro baseball. There were a few adjustments that took a few weeks to get used to and that was getting used to a 5-man rotation rather than throwing every Friday. I had to learn a new workout program that gave me the chance to perform at 100% every single outing, but the coaches and trainers helped me get through that pretty easily.
TS: This season, you were promoted to High-A Lancaster, where pitchers notoriously struggle. You had an ERA above 5, but you actually struck out more batters per 9 innings in Lancaster than you did at Tri-City. Were there any specific aspects of your pitching that you noticed improvement in? What will you focus on heading in to next season?
BR: Lancaster wasn’t easy to pitch in, but you learn how to pitch and limit mistakes. I would say that Lancaster helped me out a ton in my pitching process, but as for the strikeouts, I would say my velocity was better this year and I was able to maintain my speed the entire game which definitely helps, rather than last year my velocity would slowly decrease as I went deeper into my outing. As for what I’m focusing on now, just refining my pitches and getting bigger and stronger. There is always something to learn, so I plan on learning more next season also.
TS: Tell me about Lancaster’s playoff run this season. What was going through your head in that epic Game 5? Was that the most exciting game you’ve ever been in?
BR: The playoff run was great, but it wasn’t the way you want to end a season. Game 5 was epic and every pitch was exciting, but like I said, it sucks. You never want to finish the season a loser, but only one team comes out a winner and unfortunately we weren’t able to defend the Cal League Championship.
(Click HERE for the Box Score from Lancaster’s season-ending 15 inning loss.)
TS: You got to make two spot starts this season, one for AA Corpus Christi and one for AAA Oklahoma City. In a combined 10 innings you gave up just 1 run. What do you think gave you success in those two starts? What will you do to try to have that same success as you move up the system next year?
BR: Those spot starts were awesome! Fortunately I had success and I think that speaks to the coaches that we have in the system to prepare all players for spot starts such as that. What also helped was that the teams I faced have never seen me pitch before so they didn’t know what to expect. Seeing a pitcher for the first time can be difficult because you don’t know what pitches he has and how they move. As for my future, I’m just going to play the game with confidence and always love it no matter how bad it treats me sometimes, because baseball is a game and its supposed to be fun. Once you stop having fun, that’s when you start to really struggle.
Brady Rodgers will look to continue to improve as he moves through the Astros Minor League system. He is one of many exciting young players in a system loaded with talent. Thank you again to Brady for taking the time in his off-season to do this interview. Good luck next season!