Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Graham Godfrey

WEST SACRAMENTO - After a disappointing 2010 campaign, Graham Godfrey has rebounded in 2011 in a major way. The right-hander has been the Sacramento River Cats' best starting pitcher and he has finally gotten a taste of pitching on the big stage. Gabby Micek spoke with Godfrey about his standout season.

Graham Godfrey has had a standout 2011 season for the River Cats. He has a 2.44 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 23 walks in 88.2 innings, making him the River Cats' best starting pitcher this season. He has also made three starts for the Oakland A's this season, posting a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings. The 2011 campaign has been a dramatic improvement over Godfrey's 2010 season, during which he posted 5.33 ERA in 125 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

With stats like these it is no surprise that rumors of Godfrey possibly being recalled to the major leagues are swirling. After struggling in his first major league start on June 10th against the Chicago White Sox, Godfrey earned his first big league win on June 17 against the defending World Series Champion SF Giants. His strong outing gave him the confidence of knowing that he has the ability to not only pitch, but pitch well against the best in the game.

After working hard in the off-season on adjusting aspects of his mechanics, such as moving his arm slot, Godfrey has seen a major improvement in his pitching. After being placed in Midland at the beginning of the season, he was quickly brought up to Sacramento, and later called to the majors. With the continuous talk about whether or not he will be recalled, there is always the concern that the pressure could negatively affect his game. However Godfrey understands that his only job is to stay focused and help Sacramento win one game at a time.

I spoke with Godfrey last week about his breakthrough season and more…

Gabby Micek: You have been having a terrific season this year, after struggling a bit last year. What adjustments have you made?

Graham Godfrey: I made a lot of adjustments actually, mostly things having to do with my mechanics. That's been the biggest thing for me.

GM: What did you specifically alter with your mechanics?

GG: I've been working on raising my arm slot a little bit., and trying to throw the ball more downhill.

GM: What was it like making your major league debut this year?

GG: It was indescribable. It was awesome and just such a great experience for me. I had so much fun, and its something that I will always remember.

GM: What did you take away from that experience?

GG: I think the biggest thing I took away from it was that I now know I can actually pitch at that level. Also that the game is still the same and as long as you pitch to your strengths you'll be okay.

GM: How was it to beat Tim Lincecum and the Giants in Oakland?

GG: It was pretty neat. Just being on the same mound as that guy with all of the success that not only he's had, but the success that the Giants as a team have had. It was definitely a special moment for me.

GM: Since returning to Sacramento what have you been working hardest on?

GG: Still just my mechanics. Just making sure that everything is in the right spot.

GM: What do you think the best aspect of your game is?

GG: I think my "go-to" pitch has gotten a lot better, but at the same time my ability to adapt to all kinds of situations. I also still have the same competitive spirit I have had throughout my career.

GM: What is your "go-to" pitch?

GG: My fastball is my best pitch. That's what I live and die with.

GM: How was it dealing with the trade deadline and all of the rumors surrounding everything?

GG: I try my best to stay out of it and just focus on how I can help Sacramento. We've got a great season going on right now [in Sacramento], and it's been great to be a part of this, so whatever I can do to help my team out, that's what I'm going to do. With all of the other stuff going on around me, you have to block that out and stay focused.

GM: What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?

GG: As of right now just to continue working on some of my secondary pitches. Everyday I try and go out and be a little bit better than the day before. Obviously the ultimate goal is to get back to the big leagues, but I think if I can keep it simple and take it one day at a time it will all work out.

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