Keeping Up with the Astros Prospects: (RHP) Joe Musgrove

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The quantity of Houston Astros prospects has increased through the “process”, including the draft and trades over the past several years of losing. One of the prospects that the Astros received in a trade was the now 22-year-old RHP  Joseph Musgrove. Astros fans might know him as Joe, but whichever name he goes by, the man can pitch. With his tall frame, 6’5″, he throws the ball at a slightly different angle than other pitchers.

Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, Musgrove traded to the Astros in 2012 as part of a blockbuster trade including J.A. Happ going to the Blue Jays. He started off a little shaky, but the past few years he has dominated the competition in both levels of Class-A. So far this season, Musgrove is now 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA and is averaging 10.6 strikeouts per game between Quad Cities and Lancaster.

The following is the transcript of my phone interview with Joe Musgrove

CTH: What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the upcoming season?

Musgrove: I have not changed too much of my offseason routine since I was in high school. My godfather, whom I consider my pitching mentor, has two mounds set up in his backyard. Throughout the offseason, myself and about 80 other minor leaguers/ high school kids go there to work on our game. It is a good group of guys, we learn a lot from each other. I had minor offseason surgery, so I missed about 2/3 of the offseason, so the rest of the time I worked with a trainer to get me ready for the season.

CTH: What was it like as a recently drafted Blue Jay, then a year later you get traded to the Astros?

Musgrove: I was picked up in the sandwich round of the 2011 draft. That was pretty good I thought for a 19-year-old kid out of high school. When they told me I was traded, I was disappointed because I thought that the Blue Jays did not want me. I later realized that the Astros at the time was struggling, and I would have more opportunities in Houston than in Toronto. I was also excited to play eventually in Canada, with the Vancouver minor league team. However, I’m glad I came to the Astros organization.

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CTH: You got off to a slow start to your career, what specifically did you change in your pitching to become successful in 2014 and 2015?

Musgrove: I have grown and matured since then; my baseball IQ has improved as I have picked up little things to help me pitch better. I knew what I needed to work on, versus just trying to throw the ball past the hitter. I learned pretty quickly that was not the best way to pitch. I also dealt with some injuries in 2012-13, so I had a hard time stringing together a good stretch of pitching. However, my mental approach over the years has not changed.

CTH: I know you are in Lancaster now, but when did you realize that the River Bandits team could be something special?

Musgrove: I knew as soon as the rosters were posted, most of the players were on the Tri-City team with me that went to the championship round. We were already bonded together and knew that each one of us were on the same page. It was a cool feeling, to be on the mound, and know that the other eight players were there to make me better, not to think selfishly about themselves.

CTH: Since you mentioned it, can you describe the roster process for a minor leaguer?

Musgrove: With three days left in spring training, they throw a roster up on the wall of who is assigned to what affiliate. It is not official until the last day of spring training, but we have an idea of where we are going.

CTH: What was your lodging options once you got to Quad Cities and Lancaster?

Musgrove: They typically give us three days to find a place to stay, so myself and four other guys found a loft to stay at; that had short-term leases. We split the rent and utilities. When I got the call up to Lancaster, someone else coming from Tri-City took my spot over in the loft, and I was able to jump on with another player who was previously called up to Lancaster.

CTH: What type of pitches do you throw, and which one would you consider your out pitch?

Musgrove: I throw a two-seem, four-seem, curveball, and slider. I would consider my slider as my out pitch because I use it in contrast to my fastball. I would call myself a power pitcher, which makes my slider that much better.

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  • CTH: Which player have you played with or against has really impressed you?

    Musgrove: We played against a kid for the Connecticut Tigers (Yankees Prospect) named Michael Gerber. Very impressive at the plate.

    CTH: What has been your best moment as a baseball player?

    Musgrove: It is hard to look past the draft, you come to play professional ball with a young arm, without being taxed for four years in college. To be selected as high as I was, it is hard to pass that as my best moment. In terms of playing baseball, the playoff run in Tri-City, I was able to pitch Game two of a win or go home matchup. The thrill of that game, I pitched seven shutout innings that night, and we won the game. Unfortunately, we lost the next game, but I still remember that night.

    CTH: What is the biggest difference between Low Class-A Quad Cities and High Class-A Lancaster?

    Musgrove: The rosters are full of more experienced hitters. The teams we play against in Quad Cities were mostly 21-22-year-old hitters. The average age of the players at Lancaster is 24-27 years old. They are more patient and stronger; this was the first jump that I really noticed the change of levels.

    CTH: Who got you into baseball?

    Musgrove: My dad, he was always big into baseball. He was a great baseball player but had a kid out of high school, so he was unable to pursue baseball. So as a kid, I would sit on the couch with him in an oversized jersey, and learn the game from him. I developed a love for the game. The whole family embraced my baseball passion by always buying me the best equipment. All the family vacations were centered around baseball, I really appreciate what everyone did to help me get to where I am.

    Thanks to Joe Musgrove for taking the time to talk to me after pitching the night before, make it to Double-A and your chances of going to the show increase. Good luck for the rest of the season, hopefully, you will turn out to be the best player in the J.A. Happ trade.

    Next: No Need for an Astros to Trade for a Starter

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