Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Jerry Blevins, P

With the Oakland A's staying silent on trade deadline day on Tuesday, Midland left-hander Jerry Blevins maintained his distinction as the only prospect acquired by the A's during the 2007 mid-season trading season. Blevins was acquired from the Chicago Cubs along with catcher Rob Bowen for A's catcher Jason Kendall on July 16. We spoke with Blevins to get his thoughts on the trade and more…

Jerry Blevins, a 24 year old left-hander from Tennessee, joined the Oakland A's organization on July 16 as the main piece in the Jason Kendall trade. At the time of the trade, Blevins was in the middle of a standout season in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system. He began the year in High-A with Daytona, where he had an 0.38 ERA in 23.2 innings. He was promoted to Double-A Tennessee and continued to pitch well, posting a 1.53 ERA in 29.1 innings.

Blevins was assigned to Double-A Midland after the trade. He had a rude welcome to the Texas League when he was hung with the loss in his first outing for Midland, as he allowed a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. He has settled down since then, allowing only one run and one hit in four innings since that initial outing. Blevins has struck out eight and walked only one in 5.2 innings for the Rockhounds. On the season, Blevins has 77 strikeouts against only 14 walks in 58.2 innings.

We spoke with Blevins on Tuesday about his initial thoughts on being traded, his transition into the Midland clubhouse, his throwing motion and more…

OaklandClubhouse: Were you surprised when you got the news that you had been traded?

Jerry Blevins: I was really surprised. We actually had the day off. I was with the Tennessee Smokies and we had a charity golf tournament that day. I was on my way home when I got the call from [the Cubs'] farm director. He told me that I had been involved with a trade and he didn't really know the specifics since they hadn't been released yet. He told me to be patient, and I ended up getting a call from the A's, and I guess the rest is history.

OC: Was it a tough adjustment to go to a new organization?

JB: It's a little more intimating in concept than it actually is. I have spent the last three years of my life with a lot of the guys in the Cubs' organization. At the same time, every year you join a new team, you have to meet new people and new coaches. The thought of meeting the new guys was a little bigger than it actually turned out to be. The guys here in Midland are excellent and the coaches are really great. They have been very accepting of me as an individual and as a player, so it has been a pretty easy process.

OC: Your first outing for Midland was a little rough, but you have pitched well in your last few outings. Was that first outing a result of getting used to a new situation or was it just one of those things?

JB: Maybe a little bit of both. I felt like I was maybe pressing a little bit at first, that I was trying to show the guys what I had and I was trying to do a little too much. It took me a little bit, maybe a week or so, to really get acclimated to the new system and to everything that was going on. I feel a lot more relaxed and a lot more at ease with what is going on baseball-wise, so I think that has a lot to do with my numbers and getting settled in.

OC: You are in the middle of an outstanding season. I read that you changed your throwing motion last year, but that you went back to your old motion this year. What are you throwing now and are you using a comfortable throwing motion now?

JB: Yeah. Last year, we tried to have me throw a little bit of sidearm and a little bit of submarine and it just didn't work out for me. I think it helped me learn a little bit about pitching from a different perspective. Right now, I am at a low three-quarters motion. It's definitely over the top, but it is a low three-quarters. It is definitely comfortable for me. It's been where since I was little and I just picked up a ball, it has been more natural for me to throw that way. I think it has just taken me a little bit of time to get all of my mechanics in order and to make it all complete. It was a process, but I think we figured it out.

OC: Are you most comfortable throwing out of the bullpen or do you want to be in the starting rotation down the road?

JB: I was a starter basically all through my young life and through college. Once I got to pro ball, I was instantly put into the ‘pen. I have gotten pretty comfortable with that. If the opportunity ever came up where they wanted me to pitch in the rotation, I'm sure that I could do it. It would be a little bit different arm strength-wise because I would have to build up the pitch count. But I am happy where I am. Wherever they need me to pitch, I am happy to be there. If they want me to start, I'll start. If they want me to come out of the ‘pen, I'm happy to do that, too. Wherever they see me fit best. I'm here to help the team win.

OC: When you are coming in, does it matter if you are facing a righty or a lefty, or are you pretty comfortable against both sides at this point?

JB: I feel pretty comfortable facing both. Everybody talks about the lefty-lefty match-up because of the way the ball comes out of the hand makes it tough for lefties to pick up, but you really face more righties because there just are more right-handed hitters in the league. I guess you get used to doing both. To me, it doesn't really matter, but I guess statistically, lefties get lefties out a little bit more.

OC: Do you see yourself as a late-innings guy? Do you like coming in for save situations?

JB: Definitely. I pride myself on being able to stand-up to the pressure and being able to excel when the game is really on the line. That is really what sports is all about, to me anyway. I think it takes a certain mental prowess to just come in at any time in the game and pitch well. Whether you have a small lead or you are getting blown out, you have to be strong mentally. I think you almost have to have to be stronger from a mental standpoint when you come into the game and there is nothing on the line and to be able to get the job done then. Personally, I like to come into the game in the late innings, but pitching is pitching, I guess. [laugh]

OC: Was it a little surreal to see your name on TV on the ticker being involved in a trade with a big league player like Jason Kendall?

JB: Yeah, it's definitely a great honor. That was my first official ESPN appearance. [laughs] To be a part of a trade with a caliber player like Jason Kendall was pretty outstanding. He is an established big leaguer and that is what I hope to be someday. I was getting all sorts of phone calls from my friends saying that they saw my name on TV. It was definitely a little surreal.

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