Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Joe Musgrove (Interview)

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Interview with Houston Astros top pitching prospect Joe Musgrove

The Houston Astros lost out on re-signing Scott Kazmir on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Dodgers with a three-year $48 million dollars salary. That leaves Scott Feldman and a bunch of rookies fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation. One of those rookies who appears to be fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation is Joseph Musgrove, who goes by Joe, time to change it Baseball-Reference.

Musgrove was a former first round pick in 2 by the Toronto Blue Jays, and he was included in the 10-player J.A. Happ trade in 2011. He didn’t perform as well as he probably expected, but he had a get back on track type of season in 2015. Outside of Michael Feliz and Francis Martes, Musgrove is the third best pitcher in the Astros system at the moment.

2015 Stats: 12-1/ 1.88 ERA/ 99 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings between three levels.

Most of you read my stuff at CTH, but I have also started an Astros talk show called @TalkingStros on @KTXFdbTheReel. I have started doing my interviews through there. Two weeks ago we had Billy Wagner and Preston Tucker on, you can find them here: Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Preston Tucker (interview) and Billy Wagner on his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame (interview).

This past week we had Joe Musgrove and Jon Kemmer on, you can read on or click the link below to listen to the show. Enjoy!

Joe Musgrove Interview

CTH/TSR: How was your Christmas?

Musgrove: It was really good, we had some really thoughtful gifts exchanged. It was really enjoyable, got to see some family, which is something I don’t get to do too much since I am off playing ball most of the year. It’s nice to be able to come home for a set amount of time and see some family.

CTH/TSR: You have a home in San Diego, where do you stay when you are playing baseball?

Musgrove: It changes, some places you go they have host families set up, I actually had my first host experience this season in Corpus. I stayed with Debbie and Alan; they were amazing. I was really nervous going into it, but they were very welcoming. That meant a lot to my parents and family that there was someone taking care of me.

Other places you go there are apartments set up, some people will rent homes, some will stay with friends or family.

CTH/TSR: How far is Lancaster from San Diego? Did you get to stay at home?

Musgrove: No, I was a little too far to stay at home, it was about three hours, but it was cool because it was the first time since high school that my family was able to watch me, they made the trip every time I started.

CTH/TSR: Last year you were shut down a little early, can you tell us what happened?

Musgrove: Yes, I had battled a little bit of hip discomfort, and I didn’t know if it was anything more than that. Athletes go through that all the time, you have to try not to panic, it got to the point where I had to sit down with the staff and medical guys. I had to talk to them and tell them the truth about what was going on; they found it best to shut me down to prevent further injury. I would have loved to go out there more than anything to help us win the championship, but I wasn’t able to do that, but I did go to the ballpark every day. Our rotation was pretty solid even without me.

CTH/TSR: I should follow up that last question with how are you feeling now?

Musgrove: Good man, I went and got some treatment done, and they got me set up with a couple of therapists up here in San Diego, so I am doing my therapy religiously and my exercises. I haven’t had any setbacks so far, so everything feels really good. I’m looking forward to spring.

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CTH/TSR: Have they talked to you at all about what your plans are this spring?

Musgrove: I haven’t heard anything, I’m just mentally preparing myself for spring, I’m pretty sure with the way the Rule V happened that I will be getting an invite to spring training. That’s what I am preparing for, there are no promises out there that there is a spot waiting for me, I’m just going to show up and compete. I don’t know if we are going to pick up another starter to fill the fifth starter or if I will go to camp with a chance to compete for it. Whatever happens, I’m going to compete for it.

CTH/TSR: Was there something that you can pinpoint, or someone worked with you on to have your breakout 2015 season?

Musgrove: There are a lot of names that I can name who have been instrumental in getting me to the place where I am now, but Dominique Johnson was someone I learned everything I know about pitching from growing up, he’s my Godfather, someone that works out in San Diego. All throughout the minor leagues I have met guys, both with Toronto and Houston, and talked to guys at different levels. I can’t say one guy helped me more than the others, even the bad things that I have been taught, I learned from those as well. I think the biggest change for me has been my delivery, I was trying to be rhythmic and powerful. I found the best way to repeat my delivery was to pitch the way that my body naturally wanted to do. I tried to feel a good rhythm, I was able to repeat that delivery so well improved my command.

CTH/TSR: What type of socks are you wearing, I know you are big into socks of the day?

Musgrove: I have some Stridelines ‘Man on the Moon’ socks today.

CTH/TSR: You only had eight walks in 2016, how were you able to do that as such a young pitcher?

Musgrove: Rhythm thing, like I mentioned earlier, it’s hard for me to explain what I do. It’s something I feel, when I’m out there, I get in the rhythm and a comfortable spot where I can repeat the delivery over and over. At that point, it’s all about competing, and I attack guys, take my chances in the zone. The guys who are successful get a hit three out of ten tries, I feel confident in every pitch I throw, and I like the action on all my pitches. If they get on base with a hit, I am going to make sure they earn it.

CTH/TSR: Growing up in San Diego and playing last year at Corpus, what did you think about Whataburger?

Musgrove: I know where this question is going, comparing In-and-Out Burger to Whataburger, I don’t eat fast food anymore, but I would have to stick with In-and-Out, it’s a different type of meal. It tastes like a gourmet like burger while Whataburger…both are pretty good.

CTH/TSR: Do you have a nickname?

Musgrove: Just Joe, most of those nicknames come from inside jokes between the players.

CTH/TSR: I hear that you recently attended A.J. Reed‘s wedding, how was that?

Musgrove: Incredible…Long Pause…It was really cool; it was a real fun wedding. I also flew out to Chicago before the wedding and spent some time with Taylor Rhodes, who is one of out strength conditioners in the minors. I enjoyed working with him with his knowledge, and I was really willing to learn from him. So I stayed out there for a week in Chicago and train for a little while.

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CTH/TSR: What was it like to have a front row ticket to watch Mr. Reed hit?

Musgrove: It’s impressive, I didn’t follow college baseball all that much, I didn’t know hoe good an athlete he was, I just knew of the hype of this guy out of the University of Kentucky. When I met him last year in Tri-City watching him hit BP, it was incredible. I have not seen someone with such effortless pop and barrel control. That’s what is so impressive about him, it’s not the monster home runs he hit, but how much a professional hitter he is. He’s not a one-dimensional hitter who could only pull the ball, he will wait for his pitch. If he doesn’t get it before two strikes, he is just as successful going the other way, putting the ball in play with two strikes. You don’t see him waste too many at-bats, he hardly ever chases bad pitches, if you get him to two strikes, he will find a way to get on base. He will hurt you if he put’s it on the plate.

CTH/TSR: Have you ever seen him pitch?

Musgrove: I heard he went 12-1 or 12-0 or something like that on the mound, that was insane. We go back and forth all the time on who would win in a face-off, I hit a little bit in high school. We wonder what would happen if we flip roles.

CTH/TSR: Your mom has become one of the biggest Astros fans on Twitter, is she really a fan of the Astros or the team that Joe plays for?

Musgrove: She’s incredible, I would say that she is just a true fan of baseball, but a big fan of Joe Musgrove, whatever team I was on. None of us were Astros fans growing up and we had no ties to Texas or the teams at all. When I switched over to Houston, we all just fell in love with Houston and the success that they were having. Just watching the strides they have made over the past few years, to be part of that in the minor leagues was really special. Now that they are at the place they are now, I wouldn’t prefer to be with anyone else. She feels the same way. She’s my mom, she knows a lot about baseball, she knows more than me. I’ll wake up in the morning and have 4 text messages from her telling me about a whole lot of trades that happened. She has her bookmarks set up on her computer, it’s really cool to have your mom know that much about baseball.

CTH/TSR: I’m not sure how much you know about Astros history, but Roy Oswalt, Shane Reynolds, and Curt Schilling have what in common?

Musgrove: I don’t know

CTH/TSR: They all started their major league career out of the bullpen, then became excellent starters soon after that. Would you be willing to pitch out of the bullpen in 2016 to make the team?

Musgrove: Dude, I would fill water cups up in the bullpen if it meant I could get an inning a week in the big leagues. I just want to get up there and learn from those guys and get to talk to the coaches and players, just to experience all that stuff. I’d like to stay a starter, that’s where I am comfortable at and have the most success at, but I’m an athlete if they tell me to pitch in the bullpen, I’ll adapt. I might struggle a little, but I would figure it out. I’ve been told that they want me to be a starter, not a reliever, but it’s not up to me. I just will throw when I’m told to throw.

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  • CTH/TSR: Were you surprised when you heard about the trade where three of your teammates were traded to the Brewers in Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers?

    Musgrove: I was more anxious than anything, because everyone at that point knew what was going on, that something was going to happen at the trade deadline. We were at Midland when it happened, we were all in the clubhouse about an hour before the game, everyone was sitting there. We were just all sitting looking at our phones, looking for any updates, I had been involved in a lot of trade talk with the Padres and other teams. That was on my mind, it was a relief when I first heard it, but then you see who were all leaving, they were some of my good buddies who I came up with and learned a lot from. It was a bummer to see them go, but I was happy for them to get that opportunity with the Brewers. It was a good career move, Houser already had his MLB debut, I was able to go watch him when he pitched in San Diego.

    CTH/TSR: Could you give us a little more details on how the players are notified about a trade?

    Musgrove: It’s crazy, happens all sorts of ways, this was the first time that I saw it up close, but coaches are always talking, so things leak out. The players names come out, so people have an idea of what is going on, then it literally just happens like that. A couple of guys get called into the office, everyone knows what it’s for, that’s how it’s done.

    CTH/TSR: What New Years resolution are you setting for baseball?

    Musgrove: I don’t really have any, to be honest, I never really make them. I feel like those things are only broken, it’s more of an ongoing thing for me. Being an athlete is a lifestyle, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, so I try to go out there every day and give my best. There are little goals that I will set, but I will keep that private.

    Thanks to Joe Musgrove for joining Talking Stros, you can follow him at @musgrove23Stros. We look forward to you competing to make the Astros in spring training. If it doesn’t work out like that, we know that you will have a positive impact on the future success of the Houston Astros.

    Next: Billy Wagner, is the former Astros closer Hall of Fame material?

    Please give Talking Stros a follow for the weekly Astros talk, follow @TalkingStros.

    **Stats from Baseball-Reference**

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