Category Archives: Interviews

Jay Shakur Interview

Jay Shakur is a senior at Evans High School in Evans, Georgia. He lost his left arm when he was young, and has pursued and succeeded in the great game of baseball since. He can be found on Instagram @jay_shakur27. The interview was conducted by Matt Leonardo, who can be found on Instagram @leonardo_edits.

Matt Leonardo: So first off, were you born with one arm?

Jay Shakur: No I was not born with one arm. I lost my arm on November 22nd when I was a year old. A week after my birthday. I had strep throat and chicken [pox]. My chicken poxs got infected and combined with my strep throat and formed and flesh eating disease. They only thing the doctors could do to stop the infection was to amputate my arm above my elbow.

ML: Wow. How unfortunate. So when did you first fall in love with baseball?

JS: Well let’s see. I was 5 years old when my dad introduce me [to] it. I first picked up a glove, a bat, and a ball and everything just came natural to me. It was like I was born to lose my arm and become a good baseball player with one arm. But the the minute I picked up that glove I knew I would be able to play like everybody else and still compete with other great talented ball players. Everything just flowed together and once I found out I can play this game easily I just fell in love with it. So from then on out I’ve been striving for greatness in this sport.

ML: How do you field with only one arm?

JS: Well just saying I play the outfield. And the outfield gives me more time to get my glove off to throw the ball. In the outfield you know you have to run up on the ball when it is in the air. And as I am running with the ball in my glove I quickly put the glove under my left armpit and I let the ball drop in my hand as I am in my the throwing form and by the time I am in my throwing stride the ball is ready to be thrown wherever it needs to be thrown.

ML: Now when you were a kid, at what point did you finally start to make consistent contact at the plate with one hand?

JS: Let’s see. I started making good contact when I started coach pitch and then the more pitches I faced and the more experience I got at the plate I just become a better batter. Now I make decent contact depends on the kind of game I’m having. I always have game where I have a hit. Always.

ML: Can you hit off-speed as well?

JS: Of course I can hit anything. I have good bat speed. I’m one of those batter that capitalizes off that first pitch strike so I don’t get behind in the count.

ML: Did you ever look up to Jim Abbott as a kid, the one handed pitcher that played for the Angels?

JS: [Yes] I did. My favorite team is the angels. Not because of him but because I used to live in California. One day I saw a video of Jim Abbott that my dad showed me. After I saw him play I developed the techniques that he did. And from that point on I practiced and practiced at what he did and got better. And my dad was always there beside me supporting me in baseball. He always showed up to all my games and he gave me tips on how to improve my game. From that point on my dad and Jim Abbott inspired me to strive for greatness in the sport of baseball.

ML: Are you a starter on your high school team?

JS: I know this may be a shocker. But to be honest I have never made a high school team yet. But that is why I played summer ball for my high school. So I can show the coaches hey I am good. That I have the ability to play on the team. I tried and tried and didn’t make it. But when I played summer ball the coaches said that they were impressed. I’m very fast and they were impressed on how I can switch hit. I started for summer the season ball season. Come January we will see if my hard work In the summer payed off. I’m sure it will.

ML: I hope it does. Now I have seen you switch hit between pictures and videos on your Instagram. Which side of the plate is easier for you?

JS: Batting righty is better. I produce more on that side. My vision at the plate is not as good on the left side as it is on the right side.

ML: So who works with you the most to improve your game?

JS: My good buddies on the baseball team. They coach me in ways that improves my game. I also help myself to improve I’m constantly in the cages hitting if the tee to improve my swing. I also watch the pros play to see how they play to improve my game as well.

ML: Who’s your favorite major leaguer to watch right now to learn from?

JS: Mike Trout of course. He is a very good outfielder and his batting mechanics are really good.

ML: How do you deal with people that you maybe met that doubted you to be able to play baseball?

JS: It just put them behind me and strive harder so one day they can watch me on tv and remember what they said to me and dang I wish I would have never said that.

ML: What kind of baseball dreams or goals do you have?

JS: My dream is that I would like to make the bigs but really I just want a lot of people to notice me and see me play. I just want colleges coaches to see me play. I just want to be seen in a big way.

ML: Do you plan on looking to go to certain colleges and to play baseball?

JS: Not really. I would only do that if I know colleges are looking at me because of baseball. I would love to play baseball in college.

ML: You are a great inspiration to many young people who love baseball. Thank you for the time and good luck with your future baseball.

JS: Thanks you.

Advertisements

Joe Beimel Interview

Joe Beimel is a pitcher, and was recently signed by the Seattle Mariners to a minor-league deal this offseason.  We were lucky enough to interview him.  Here is what he said:

Everything MLB: When did you start playing baseball?

Joe Beimel: I started playing tee ball when I was 4 and 5 years old.  After my first year of tee ball I told my parents that I was going to play in the Major Leagues.

EMLB: How advanced did you play growing up?

JB: I never played on any travel teams or anything like that.  I grew up in [Pennsylvania] so the weather isn’t good until May and I think we only played about 20 games in high school and [then] around 20 [games] in Legion in the summer.  I didn’t really start to develop until I got to college.

EMLB: How were you introduced to the game?

JB: My dad was always a huge baseball fan.  He played growing up and actually played in the Marines.  He had 8 other brothers and all of them love baseball too so it definitely rubbed off on me.

EMLB: What was your favorite team growing up?

JB: I was a huge Pirate[s] fan!  I grew up like two hours from Pittsburgh so we tried to go to as many games as possible.  It was fun in the late 80’s and early 90’s to go see Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke.  As you can imagine I was beyond excited when I was drafted by the Pirates in ’98.

EMLB: Who were your idols growing up?

JB: My favorite player was always Bill Madlock.  He threw me a ball at a Pirate[s] game when I was a kid.  I also loved Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux.

EMLB: Talk about getting drafted.  What were you doing when you received the new you got drafted by Pittsburgh?

JB: I had just finished my junior season at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  I was at my parents’ house waiting by the phone.  I was hoping to get drafted but didn’t know what round it would be.  I was pretty pumped when Pittsburgh called and said they took me in the 18th round.

EMLB: What was your first thought when they said you had been drafted?

JB: I don’t know if I had a first thought, haha.  I was kind of in shock that it really happened and that my dream was taking the next step into coming true.

EMLB: Why did you choose to stay in school rather than join the Texas Rangers after being drafted by them in the 26th round your freshman year?

JB: I think they offered me around $3,000 to sign and I had my son on the way so I knew it wasn’t going to be enough to support him.  I figured I could stay in school and get my education and hopefully keep developing and get drafted again.

EMLB: Did you have a backup plan?

JB: I had no backup plan at all, haha.  If I didn’t make it I don’t know what I would have done but I didn’t want to give myself the option for failure.

EMLB: You lettered in 4 sports during high school.  Could you tell us a little about that?

JB: Whatever season it was, that is what sport I played.  I was never a believer in [focusing] on one sport as a kid.  I just wanted to have fun and get a variety of different experiences.

EMLB: How much work was it?  Was rest in your vocabulary then?

JB: It wasn’t really work because it was fun for me.  I had actually wrestled from the time I was 5 until my junior year of high school.  That started to feel like work so I stopped wrestling my junior year and played basketball instead.  But no, I really didn’t know what rest was, haha.

EMLB: Jumping back to being drafted, how long was it from when you were drafted to when you were signed?

JB: I think maybe a week, if that.  I had already been drafted once and didn’t want to sign so I didn’t want to mess around this time.  I wanted to get my pro career under way.

EMLB: What was life like in the minors?

JB: It was good for me.  It’s a situation where you really have to love the game because it is really hard.  You are taking these 5-10 hour bus trips sometimes and staying in the worst motels.  Then they give you about $5 a day for meal money and you are only making $850 a month (before taxes).  It’s definitely not glamorous, but it is also very fun if you love it.

EMLB: Going to the majors, what was your first start for the Pirates llike?

JB: It was all a blur!  I had to go back after it and watch the film to remember what had happened because it was like I was literally in a dream.

EMLB: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

JB: Usually before I go out to the bullpen I foam roll and stretch.  Once I am out there I just watch the game until the top of the 5th.  That’s when I close my eyes and say a little prayer and then I visualize facing about 4 or 5 batters.  In the middle of the 5th I stretch again and I’m ready if they get me up.

EMLB: What’s the longest you’ve gone in a game?

JB: In [the] MLB I had a few starts where I lasted 6 innings, haha.  In the Minor Leagues I had a few complete games.

EMLB: I’m sure there were some times you wanted to stay in a game but the manager took you out.  Could you talk to me about what thhe conversations are like in those situations?

JB: As a younger player, you usually have to keep your mouth shut.  If the manager comes to take you out, you don’t really have a choice.  Some of the older starters get to kind of go on how they feel.  I was only a starter when I was younger so I had to keep my mouth shut, haha.

EMLB: What’s the biggest situation you’ve been in?

JB: I’ve been in pretty much every situation over the year[s].  One that sticks out is coming in with the bases loaded against Barry Bonds and striking him out.

EMLB: Speaking of Bonds, who is the scariest batter you have have faced?

JB: Bonds is definitely one even though I had a lot of success against him.  Mark McGuire was another that was just gigantic in the box.

EMLB: Have you ever been threatened by a batter or had a batter charge the mound?  Go into details if so.

JB: No, I have never been threatened or charged.  I hit Adam Dunn one year after he pimped a home run and I thought he was going to charge but he must have got scared, haha.  I ended up playing with Dunn years later and we laughed about it.

EMLB: What are the things you have intentionally hit a batter for?

JB: I’ve really only done it a couple of times.  That time with Dunn and then another time because their pitcher had drilled like 4 of our guys.

EMLB: Moving on: tell us about The Legend of Joe Beimel.

JB: Haha.  This guy from West Virginia made the video and my buddy and I saw it on YouTube and made The Legend of Joe Beimel 2.  From there, it kind of took off and it even got me a fan voted bobble head with the Dodgers {We will be giving away an autographed one, stay tuned!}.

EMLB: Yeah, you seemed to make a real fan connection in Los Angeles.  If you went back to Los Angeles, would The Legend continue?

JB: I’m not sure.  Probably, I still have a lot of fans there and they are very supportive every time I come back to [Los Angeles] to play.  It was definitely a fun time in my career.

EMLB: Have you ekpt any relationships with your former teammates?

JB: Yeah, I still talk to most guys like Russell Martin, Pedro Alvarez, Matt Belisle and Jason Giambi to name a few.

EMLB: Are there any players that you have based your game off of?

JB: I’ve always tried to be Joe Beimel and do things that I know I am capable of.

EMLB: Talk about your Tommy John surgery

JB: The surgery was [okay].  Painful for a couple of weeks.  The rehab was very long and boring at times.  Once I was able to come back and pitch competitively I thought I was going to be back to normal right away and that was not the case.  I struggled with consistency and the way my arm felt.  I’m finally 100% and my velocity is back so I am excited for this coming season.

Joe has been kind enough to autograph a bobble head for us to giveaway on our blog.  We will likely give it away at or around 100 blog followers.  Stay tuned for a Hector Santiago interview, a Devon Travis interview, and possibly a Ryan Lavarnway interview.

Remember, you can follow our blog by signing up via email.  The signup is on the right side of the posts if you are viewing it from a PC, or if you are on a mobile device, scroll past the posts and it will be there! Signing up will take 60 seconds and will enter you for a chance to win the Tyler Massey signed object and the Joe Beimel autographed bobble head, as well as keep you up-to-date on the latest MLB news and insight.  Enjoy!

Click here to view the Tyler Massey interview.

Joe Beimel Interview

Joe Beimel is a pitcher, and was recently signed by the Seattle Mariners to a minor-league deal this offseason.  We were lucky enough to interview him.  Here is what he said:

Everything MLB: When did you start playing baseball?

Joe Beimel: I started playing tee ball when I was 4 and 5 years old.  After my first year of tee ball I told my parents that I was going to play in the Major Leagues.

EMLB: How advanced did you play growing up?

JB: I never played on any travel teams or anything like that.  I grew up in [Pennsylvania] so the weather isn’t good until May and I think we only played about 20 games in high school and [then] around 20 [games] in Legion in the summer.  I didn’t really start to develop until I got to college.

EMLB: How were you introduced to the game?

JB: My dad was always a huge baseball fan.  He played growing up and actually played in the Marines.  He had 8 other brothers and all of them love baseball too so it definitely rubbed off on me.

EMLB: What was your favorite team growing up?

JB: I was a huge Pirate[s] fan!  I grew up like two hours from Pittsburgh so we tried to go to as many games as possible.  It was fun in the late 80’s and early 90’s to go see Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke.  As you can imagine I was beyond excited when I was drafted by the Pirates in ’98.

EMLB: Who were your idols growing up?

JB: My favorite player was always Bill Madlock.  He threw me a ball at a Pirate[s] game when I was a kid.  I also loved Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux.

EMLB: Talk about getting drafted.  What were you doing when you received the new you got drafted by Pittsburgh?

JB: I had just finished my junior season at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  I was at my parents’ house waiting by the phone.  I was hoping to get drafted but didn’t know what round it would be.  I was pretty pumped when Pittsburgh called and said they took me in the 18th round.

EMLB: What was your first thought when they said you had been drafted?

JB: I don’t know if I had a first thought, haha.  I was kind of in shock that it really happened and that my dream was taking the next step into coming true.

EMLB: Why did you choose to stay in school rather than join the Texas Rangers after being drafted by them in the 26th round your freshman year?

JB: I think they offered me around $3,000 to sign and I had my son on the way so I knew it wasn’t going to be enough to support him.  I figured I could stay in school and get my education and hopefully keep developing and get drafted again.

EMLB: Did you have a backup plan?

JB: I had no backup plan at all, haha.  If I didn’t make it I don’t know what I would have done but I didn’t want to give myself the option for failure.

EMLB: You lettered in 4 sports during high school.  Could you tell us a little about that?

JB: Whatever season it was, that is what sport I played.  I was never a believer in [focusing] on one sport as a kid.  I just wanted to have fun and get a variety of different experiences.

EMLB: How much work was it?  Was rest in your vocabulary then?

JB: It wasn’t really work because it was fun for me.  I had actually wrestled from the time I was 5 until my junior year of high school.  That started to feel like work so I stopped wrestling my junior year and played basketball instead.  But no, I really didn’t know what rest was, haha.

EMLB: Jumping back to being drafted, how long was it from when you were drafted to when you were signed?

JB: I think maybe a week, if that.  I had already been drafted once and didn’t want to sign so I didn’t want to mess around this time.  I wanted to get my pro career under way.

EMLB: What was life like in the minors?

JB: It was good for me.  It’s a situation where you really have to love the game because it is really hard.  You are taking these 5-10 hour bus trips sometimes and staying in the worst motels.  Then they give you about $5 a day for meal money and you are only making $850 a month (before taxes).  It’s definitely not glamorous, but it is also very fun if you love it.

EMLB: Going to the majors, what was your first start for the Pirates llike?

JB: It was all a blur!  I had to go back after it and watch the film to remember what had happened because it was like I was literally in a dream.

EMLB: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

JB: Usually before I go out to the bullpen I foam roll and stretch.  Once I am out there I just watch the game until the top of the 5th.  That’s when I close my eyes and say a little prayer and then I visualize facing about 4 or 5 batters.  In the middle of the 5th I stretch again and I’m ready if they get me up.

EMLB: What’s the longest you’ve gone in a game?

JB: In [the] MLB I had a few starts where I lasted 6 innings, haha.  In the Minor Leagues I had a few complete games.

EMLB: I’m sure there were some times you wanted to stay in a game but the manager took you out.  Could you talk to me about what thhe conversations are like in those situations?

JB: As a younger player, you usually have to keep your mouth shut.  If the manager comes to take you out, you don’t really have a choice.  Some of the older starters get to kind of go on how they feel.  I was only a starter when I was younger so I had to keep my mouth shut, haha.

EMLB: What’s the biggest situation you’ve been in?

JB: I’ve been in pretty much every situation over the year[s].  One that sticks out is coming in with the bases loaded against Barry Bonds and striking him out.

EMLB: Speaking of Bonds, who is the scariest batter you have have faced?

JB: Bonds is definitely one even though I had a lot of success against him.  Mark McGuire was another that was just gigantic in the box.

EMLB: Have you ever been threatened by a batter or had a batter charge the mound?  Go into details if so.

JB: No, I have never been threatened or charged.  I hit Adam Dunn one year after he pimped a home run and I thought he was going to charge but he must have got scared, haha.  I ended up playing with Dunn years later and we laughed about it.

EMLB: What are the things you have intentionally hit a batter for?

JB: I’ve really only done it a couple of times.  That time with Dunn and then another time because their pitcher had drilled like 4 of our guys.

EMLB: Moving on: tell us about The Legend of Joe Beimel.

JB: Haha.  This guy from West Virginia made the video and my buddy and I saw it on YouTube and made The Legend of Joe Beimel 2.  From there, it kind of took off and it even got me a fan voted bobble head with the Dodgers {We will be giving away an autographed one, stay tuned!}.

EMLB: Yeah, you seemed to make a real fan connection in Los Angeles.  If you went back to Los Angeles, would The Legend continue?

JB: I’m not sure.  Probably, I still have a lot of fans there and they are very supportive every time I come back to [Los Angeles] to play.  It was definitely a fun time in my career.

EMLB: Have you ekpt any relationships with your former teammates?

JB: Yeah, I still talk to most guys like Russell Martin, Pedro Alvarez, Matt Belisle and Jason Giambi to name a few.

EMLB: Are there any players that you have based your game off of?

JB: I’ve always tried to be Joe Beimel and do things that I know I am capable of.

EMLB: Talk about your Tommy John surgery

JB: The surgery was [okay].  Painful for a couple of weeks.  The rehab was very long and boring at times.  Once I was able to come back and pitch competitively I thought I was going to be back to normal right away and that was not the case.  I struggled with consistency and the way my arm felt.  I’m finally 100% and my velocity is back so I am excited for this coming season.

Joe has been kind enough to autograph a bobble head for us to giveaway on our blog.  We will likely give it away at or around 100 blog followers.  Stay tuned for a Hector Santiago interview, a Devon Travis interview, and possibly a Ryan Lavarnway interview.

Remember, you can follow our blog by signing up via email.  The signup is on the right side of the posts if you are viewing it from a PC, or if you are on a mobile device, scroll past the posts and it will be there! Signing up will take 60 seconds and will enter you for a chance to win the Tyler Massey signed object and the Joe Beimel autographed bobble head, as well as keep you up-to-date on the latest MLB news and insight.  Enjoy!

Click here to view the Tyler Massey interview.

Tyler Massey Interview

Tyler Massey is a minor league outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, and Everything MLB/MLB News blog was lucky enough to interview the young prospect Wednesday afternoon. Here is what was said:

Everything MLB: When did you start playing baseball?

Tyler Massey: I started playing every summer at the age of 4 and began to play competitively at age 11 ( like 70 games a summer).

EMLB: When did you realize that you had the chance to go pro?

TM: In my junior year of high school when I began having some success and getting invited to showcases and things I realized playing pro ball could be a possibility.

EMLB: How were you introduced to baseball?

TM: My dad coached all three high school sports . Baseball, football and basketball so I was introduced by growing up as a gym rat, always around the field or weight room or gym.

EMLB: Did you play any other sports in high school?

TM: [I] played football all the way through high school.

EMLB: What position did you play?

TM: Quarterback and strong safety.

EMLB: Which sport did you enjoy more?

TM: Baseball was def my first love.

EMLB: You were drafted in the 14th round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft, do you still remember that day?

TM: Yea, I’ll never forget it. My dad called me and told me the Rockies drafted me. I was still actually in Denver because I was in town for the pre-draft workout. I didn’t have an agent or anything, my parents help me with everything.

EMLB: What were you thinking after your dad called you with the news?

TM: Excitement, pure excitement. Haha.

EMLB: Do you remember the first thing you did after getting the call?

TM: I talked to my scout, then talked to some friends and things. Then I went fly fishing that day in Colorado haha.

EMLB: That year you played in 19 games for the Casper Ghosts (now named the Grand Junction Rockies), what do you remember from your first season?

TM: It was fun . Long bus rides in the pioneer league. I played 19 games and tore my ACL so that was disappointing, but looking back it taughtme a lot about hard work; rehabbing my knee that offseason

EMLB: After your injury, did you ever think about quitting baseball?

TM: No I was 19 just signed. That never even crossed my mind.

EMLB: Have you ever thought about quitting baseball in your career?

TM: No. I’ve had a goal and a dream since I was 4, that word (quit) isn’t in my vocabulary. I want to play until they take the uniform from me.

EMLB: You’ve been in the minors for 6 years so far, which season has been your favorite so far and why?

TM: Probably 2012 in Asheville, not only did I have my most success but also played on a championship team in the SAL league. Great experience beinga champion.

EMLB: What factors led to your own personal success and your team’s success in the 2012 season?

TM: We as a team really complemented each other’s skills and played for each other zero selfishness. I really became a more patientand professional hitter.

EMLB: In 2013, you played for the Modesto Nuts, how would you say that your season went?

TM:[It] went well. I got [a] good opportunity to play some center field and show some versatility.

EMLB: And offensively?

TM: [I] Continued to progress and work on some things. I feel I finished the season very strong at the plate.

EMLB: This off-season you played in the Australian Baseball League with the Melbourne Aces, what was that experience like?

TM: Great experience getting to see a different country and continue getting work and at-bats during in game action. Made for a great offseason program.

EMLB: You went to Melbourne with fellow Rockies minor-leaguer Ryan Casteel. How much did you get to know him in your time overseas?

TM: We have played together the last three years we have been great friends over the last seasons and spent a lot of good time together. [He is a] good friend and good teammate.

EMLB: In an http://MLB.com article, it said that you and Casteel grew up only 30 miles apart, but had never crossed paths until a couple of years ago. Is that true?

TM: Yea I heard about him in the newspaper and stuff but never played with him until [the] Northwest League in 2011.

EMLB: What do you think of when I say the name Joe Sclafani?

TM: Played against him this past year in the cal league in Lancaster and in Adelaide in the ABL. Most recently however the ball he hit to right center…

EMLB: I was going to ask you about the play. What do you remember?

TM: Just remember taking off after it and having a good beat on it. Knew I could get to it but knew I would have to make a little contact with the wall. I had no idea the wall would give out like it did.

EMLB: It didn’t look like it was padded very well, haha. Did the game go on afterwards?

TM: Yea we had about a 10 minute break to mend the wall back.

EMLB: What are your goals for the 2014 season?

TM: To improve my game at the plate and continue chasing the dream of becoming a big leaguer.

EMLB: What is the worst part of the minors? Any stories?

TM: Ha I guess we’ve had some bus breakdowns that have made for long trips. Middle of the nights sitting on the side of the road… But those bad times usually make for the funniest stories later on.

EMLB: I’ll bet. What do you usually do during the busrides?

TM: Usually get some good sleep. I’ve gotten better at sleeping on the bus if I’m not playing spades

EMLB: Do you have any pregame routines?

TM: I always tape my wrists the same way and have to have two pieces of Wrigley spearmint gum before I go out to stretch.

EMLB: Interesting. Which pitcher that you have hit against has the most dominant stuff?

TM: I faced Kimbrel when he was coming up [and] then this past summer Archie Bradley had some pretty good stuff! [I’m] excited to see how he does.

EMLB: Have you been able to talk with any of the current Rockies players, like Tulo, Cargo, or anyone else?

TM: No, I haven’t.

EMLB: As you continue to progress through the Rockies system, is there one player you most like to meet?

TM: I’d really like to meet [Derek] Jeter. I like the way he goes about things and plays the game.

EMLB: What message would you give to kids who have the dream of playing professionally?

TM: If you love it, keep working hard and believe you can do it.

EMLB: And lastly, your pick for the Superbowl is?

TM: Russell Wilson former teammate. Go Hawks!!

EMLB: Thank you for your time.

Tyler will also be sending an autographed item, it is still to be determined, to a follower of the blog. Once we receive 75 followers, we will raffle it off to the blog followers. Remember, you can follow the blog by email by signing up on the right side of the blog.

James Paxton Interview

We were recently able to interview Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton. Paxton looks to have a good season in what will most likely be his first full season in the Majors. He was a September call-up and will be a great middle-of-the-rotation option for the Mariners this year. Here is what was said.

EMLB: When did you start playing baseball?

JP: I started playing baseball when I was about 5 years old. My dad would take me out to the park behind our house and taught me how to swing and throw.

EMLB: Who was your idol growing up, and who did you model your game after?

JP: My idol growing up was definitely my dad. I wanted to be just like him. The pitchers I enjoyed watching on TV were Randy Johnson and Andy Pettitte.

EMLB: How old were you when you realized you had the chance to go pro?

JP: I was probably about 15 years old when I realized I had a chance to go pro. I hadn’t even thought about it until then. Going to college in the US was a big goal of mine early on.

EMLB: You played at Delta Secondary School in Canada during high school, did you play any other sports during your time there?

JP: My high school actually didn’t have a baseball team, so I played club baseball throughout that time. I was all baseball once I was about 12 years old. I played soccer and volleyball when I was in elementary school, but that all stopped when I got more serious about baseball.

EMLB: You graduated Delta Secondary School as a top player, were you recruited by many colleges?

JP: I was recruited by quite a few junior colleges, but I really wanted to go to a 4 year school. The only real offer I got out of high school was from Kentucky.

EMLB: You ultimately went to Kentucky and started playing as a true freshman, how excited were you when you made your first college appearance?

JP: I was very excited, and nervous at the same time. I came out of the bullpen for my first couple years at Kentucky.

EMLB: You became a starter in the Kentucky rotation in 2008, and you had a good year, but suffered an injury that caused you to miss the NCAA tournament. Did you learn anything from sitting out and watching your teammates play?

JP: That was tough. I really don’t like sitting out, especially in such big games. I took in the experience and the intensity of the games, and tried to imagine myself out there in those situations so that I could be ready when I got my chance in big games like that.

EMLB: In 2009, MLB scouts really began to take a look at you, and some thought you would be a first round pick. What was it like hearing your name mentioned by scouts and draft experts?

JP: It was a thrill. Not much was being said about me until I had a big game against LSU.*

EMLB: You were drafted in the first round of the 2009 FYPD. Where were you and how did you react when you were told that you were drafted by the Blue Jays?

JP: I was with some family and friends at my parents house in Ladner, BC. It was a very exciting time.

EMLB: After going back to Kentucky for your senior season, you were ruled ineligible because of your contact with agent Scott Boras.  If you had the chance to go back and do it all over again, would you do it differently?

JP: I feel like the experiences I’ve had have made me who I am today, and I would not change a thing. All of the tough things I have been through have made me a tougher person, and I believe those experiences will benefit me in the future.

EMLB: You were drafted again in 2010 by the Mariners, compare the experience of getting drafted the second time to the first time. What was different?

JP: Getting drafted by the Mariners was awesome. I was always a fan of the Mariners, as they were the closest team to my home. My parents and I were very excited about the fact that I one day could be playing so close to home.

EMLB: You had a couple of successful seasons in the minors, and were even given the honor of participating in the 2011 All-Star Futures game. What was your best memory of that experience?

JP: My best memory of that experience was getting out on that mound with 40,000 plus people in the stands. The electricity in that stadium was like nothing I had ever experienced.

EMLB: You competed with some very notable players including Bryce Harper, Jason Kipnis, Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt, and many other notable players. What was it like competing with a bunch of other players, and how did you feel you fit in talent wise?

JP: I really wasn’t thinking too much about where I fit in. There were definitely some special players in that game and I was honored to be playing along side them.

EMLB: What is life like in the minors?

JP: Minor league ball had its pros and cons. I really enjoyed building relationships with my teammates and coaches. At times, the travel was hard and the food wasn’t close to moms home cooking, but that is what it is all about.

EMLB: You were promoted to Seattle on September 3, 2013. How did you get the news?

JP: I was pitching in a game in Tacoma. I came out after the 2nd inning and was told that I was done. I was thinking to myself that I was nowhere close to done, but then our manager, John Stearns, called me over and told me the news.

EMLB: What was the first thing you did after hearing the news?

JP: I hugged all of my coaches and teammates that were around me at the time. Then I went into the locker room and got someone to go get my dad from the stands. Luckily enough my dad, mom, uncle, and aunt were there to see the game that day, so I got to share that experience with them first hand.

EMLB: You made your first appearance on September 7 against the Rays, you earned the win as your team prevailed 6-2. How were you feeling after the game?

JP: There was a big mix of emotions that day. I woke up to the news that my grandfather had passed away that morning. Needless to say, that was a rough morning, but luckily I had my girlfriend there to support me. I hadn’t told anyone at the field about what had happened because I didn’t want to be focused on that before the game, though it was almost impossible anyway. I wanted to go out there and do it for him, because I knew he was still watching. I had about 100 family members and friends at the game that night and we all met up afterwards to celebrate. It was a bitter sweet day for sure.

EMLB: What are the major differences between life in the minors and life in the majors?

JP: Everything. It’s really hard to compare the two. The biggest thing to realize in my mind is that it’s the same game, just a way nicer ballpark with more fans.

EMLB: Currently, Spring Training workouts are going on. What has your daily routine been?

JP: I get to the field at about 6:30 every morning and eat breakfast, then do some contrast in the hot and cold tubs to wake up. After that, I shower and get dressed for practice.

EMLB: What are your goals for this upcoming season?

JP: My goal is to be in the major leagues the entire season. I want to help the Mariners win as many games as possible.

EMLB: Has ace Felix Hernandez helped you out as you’ve come along?

JP: I hadn’t talked to Felix very much before being called up last season. He did share some insight on my change up last September, and that definitely helped me in the following games.

EMLB: In your opinion, which of your pitches is the best?

JP: My fastball is my best pitch. I get some pretty good downward angle on that pitch and it makes it hard to guys to square up.

EMLB: What is your favorite pitch to throw?

JP: Again, fastball. I love moving my fastball around the zone and challenging hitters with it.

EMLB: Have you been the subject of any rookie hazing rituals?

JP: We had to dress up on our flight from Detroit to Anaheim. I was dressed up as Minnie Mouse. It was not a good look for me, but I think that was the point.

EMLB: Are you superstitious, and do you have a precise gameday routine? Do you try and seclude yourself from the rest of the clubhouse, eat certain meals, etc.?

JP: Nothing too crazy. I have a routine before I pitch, but nothing like putting one sock on before the other.

EMLB: What current Mariners player do you know the best, and how did you come to know him so well?

JP: The guys that I know the best are the ones that I played with on my way up through the minor leagues. We spent a lot of time together on and off the field, so it became almost like family.

EMLB: Do you have any other Major League friends outside of your own club?

JP: I know Mike Moustakas, [third baseman] with the Kansas City Royals quite well. I have lived with him for a month or two during a couple different off seasons while training in California at Scott Boras’s training facility. He shared experiences with me, and told me what to expect when I got to the big leagues. I am grateful for his guidance.

EMLB: What is the one food that you could not live without?

JP: Sushi

EMLB: Are you much of a football fan, and if you so, are you a Seahawks fan?

JP: I cant say that I am a huge football fan, but if I am going to root for any team, it will be the Seahawks.

EMLB: Are you ready for the upcoming season, and what are you most excited for come the start of the season?

JP: I am very ready for the upcoming season, and cannot wait to get started. I’m most excited to get back to Seattle and start playing baseball every day again.

* In that game he had struck out 12 of the first 13 batters he faced.