TROY, NY - Bubba Derby knows how to make a strong first impression. The right-hander came to the Oakland A's organization this season as the team's sixth-round draft choice. Derby dominated during the New York-Penn League season, allowing just 29 base-runners in 34.2 innings. He posted a 0.78 ERA for the Vermont Lake Monsters and had a 45:10 K:BB.
Derby had a strong three-year career at San Diego State. He spent his final two seasons in the Aztecs starting rotation, throwing more than 100 innings in each of the past two seasons. As a junior with SD State, Derby had a 3.32 ERA and 134 strike-outs in 103 innings.
Because he is just 5'10'', 185-pounds, Derby has been overlooked by many scouts, who projected him as a future reliever. The A's believe he can start, however, and he should have a regular turn in the starting rotation for either the Beloit Snappers or the Stockton Ports next year.
Donald Moore spoke with Derby in late July about his adjustment to professional baseball and much more...
Donald Moore: Hi Bubba, how is everything going for you so far this season?
Bubba Derby: Wonderful, just loving it out here. I'm adjusting to the new environment, new people, making good friends and good memories and just trying to stay healthy and just enjoy the experience.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
BD: Just to go out and pitch and do my best and everything I can do for the organization and just try to make good memories out here. Not everyone can say they played where I am right now and I'm very thankful and happy to be where I am at. I want to go out and throw strikes and just do what the coaches want me to do.
DM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a baseball player?
BD: I would just have to say the attitude and the dedication to the sport. It's a love like no other and you will have your ups and downs, and there are going to be those moments where you feel it might just be the end, but keep pushing and pulling through, and have fun and enjoy the experience.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
BD: Just consistency. I feel as though that is every pitcher's weakness, being consistent in the strike zone and throwing what you want, when you want to. Other than that, just do everything I can to help the team is a blessing.
DM: How are you adjusting to professional baseball?
BD: The hitters' approaches are a little different, so you have to adjust your approach. In college, they are playing a lot of small ball, but here it is not so much small ball. You throw a pitch right down the middle, it is going to get hit. You make a mistake anywhere in the 'zone, it's is going to be hit, so let hitters try to get themselves out and just throw as many strikes as you can. It's not about swings-and-misses all the time. It's more about trusting your defense and let them get the outs for you.
DM: What do you like best about being a professional athlete?
BD: I feel so far, just the relationships I made. I already made some good buddies out here and guys that I am going to be talking to a long time from now, no matter where the game takes me. It's just fun playing in front of a lot of people. I'm not used to playing in front of thousands of people everyday, so that takes a little to get used to. The fact I can say I am a professional baseball player is cool in itself and something I will never forget.
DM: Any pre game routines?
BD: Praying. That is all I do is pray. I just ask God to get me through the day and I just tell him whatever success I have, it is in His name, just to keep me safe and my team safe and the other team safe and just let us have fun and enjoy what we are doing.
DM: Any hobbies?
BD: Back home I am a big car fan, so my dad and I always go to car shows and we have a car of our own that we like to drive around and take care of. I play the guitar when I can, but it was tough to do when I was at school. School work and baseball is what you live off of in college. And I try to spend as much time with my family as possible, too.
DM: Favorite baseball team growing up?
BD: I grew up a big Yankees fan. My dad's family is from the East Coast, so he has always been a Yankees fan. I always went to Angels games. I grew up near the Dodgers and Angels stadiums. My dad always took me to Angels games, too, so I kind of grew up an Angels fan, as well.
DM: If there was one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
BD: It is hard to attribute that to just one person because I had so many mentors, but I'd say my dad was the one person that taught me the most. He would kick my butt when I needed it and he taught me the most important thing is to go out everyday and give it your all. Life is in God's plan and He has a plan for everyone, so go out there and take that pressure off your shoulders and just play the game and have fun with it and you can't go wrong.
DM: Craziest thing you have ever seen on a baseball diamond?
BD: Funny you ask. My current teammate, Evan Manarino, we were playing against him this last year and one of his teammates hit a two-run home run, but he forgot to touch home plate, and there was two outs. He was so excited and he jumped right over home plate and we tagged him and they called him out. They took back that one run, but I have never seen anything like that before, someone hitting a home run and forgetting to touch home plate.
DM: Where do you see yourself and your baseball career in the future?
BD: That is a tough question to ask us because obviously everyone wants to tell you that we want to be playing in the major leagues, but without baseball, I don't where I'd be to be to be honest with you. I hope someday to be part of the Oakland A's and get wins, but I was always taught to have a backup plan, a plan B, so I was a criminal justice major and I want to finish my degree as soon as I can and work towards getting another job, just so I have another option there, in case baseball doesn't work out. My main goal in life is to make it as far as I can go here.
DM: Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you and your career.
BD: Pleasure meeting you, thank you.