Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Scott Deal, P

Nothing much stays consistent in minor league baseball, but if there has been one constant in Kane County the past three seasons, it has been right-hander Scott Deal, who has been an important part of the Cougars' pitching staff. David Malamut caught-up with Deal for a Q&A…

After one-and-a-half seasons as a member of the Kane County starting rotation, Scott Deal moved into the Cougars' bullpen midway through the 2008 campaign and has been a valuable member of the Cougars' bullpen ever since. In 2009, Deal has appeared in 32 games as a reliever for Kane County and he has posted a 3.60 ERA with three saves. In 55 innings, he has allowed only 49 hits and two homeruns and he has 44 strike-outs and 17 walks.

David Malamut spoke with the 22-year-old right-hander on Saturday about his time with the Cougars, his first appearance at the plate on Friday night, his approach to pitching and conditioning and more…

David Malamut: How does your arm feel?

Scott Deal: The arm feels pretty good, we are starting August and the season seems to be going pretty fast.

DM: What is the difference in conditioning between starting and relieving?

SD: Starters have their distance running, their flush, and as a reliever you never know when you are going to pitch so you have to be ready every day. We run every other day.

DM: What's the difference in the arm conditioning?

SD: Starters are on a routine. They know exactly what they are going to do each day and as reliever you kind of play it by ear. It depends on when you pitch, as to when you get your long toss day. Or if you just need short session, It kind of all just depends.

DM: What different types of conditioning did you do this off-season compared to previous, coming in as a reliever?

SD: In the Northwest, we have lots of hiking, and I really got into hiking this off-season, which is fun but at the same time you're getting a good workout out of it. So I really enjoyed hiking this off-season. I worked out with my old high school, and worked with the players there. We would condition all together.

DM: How has becoming a reliever affected your mentality on the mound?

SD: You never know when you are going to pitch; you've always got to be ready to go. You've got to focus throughout the whole game on each team, who is going to be up this next inning, the tendencies of each hitter; you always have to be ready. As a starter, you need to focus on one game out of five games.

DM: How has life been in the bullpen during the game?

SD: It's been pretty fun; we have a great group of guys down there. We got real close and always have a good time. We take care of each other, we let each other know who's going to be up and help each other out with scouting the other teams.

DM: What do you throw?

SD: Fastball, slider and changeup.

DM: What do you want those pitches to ultimately do?

SD: Hopefully I have a sinking fastball; hopefully I can get it to sink, on a good day it should sink. The slider has been more of an out pitch for me. I just need to keep it down. The changeup, it's just important to keep all of your pitches down.

DM: As a reliever has that affected what you throw or how you throw it?

SD: I've just got to be ready for the game each day. And just be ready to go and take care of my arm, doing arm exercises.

DM: What did you learn from pitching in high school (Curtis HS, Washington)?

SD: It's a big difference from metal bats to wood bats, the hitters are way better [in the pros], the important thing is keep the ball down and throw strikes.

DM: How was draft day?

SD: It was really fun; it was exciting for me and my family. I went to school that day. It was a really exciting time and I'll never forget it.

DM: What did you learn from playing with the Arizona A's in 2005?

SD: You just kind of learn how professional baseball works. Getting up really early, having long days. Getting used to all the shagging, and the different plays and the conditioning, and the arm exercises. It's a lot different then in high school. You just get used to all that stuff and it's a good experience.

DM: How did that prepare you mentally and physically for your first professional season?

SD: You kind of get used to being away from your family, which was big for me, as I was never away. I didn't go to college, and playing baseball every single day, and that's your job and that's your number one thing to focus on.

DM: How was playing in Arizona?

SD: It was hot, I wasn't used to it. It was really, really hot. The main thing I remember is how hot it was, but it was a great experience, and I met a lot of great people.

DM: What did you learn in your first pro season?

SD: Just basically everything. Your first pro year they are feeding you so much information, so you have to take it all in and buckle down and focus, and take it all in and learn everything. And I just learned a lot.

DM: How difficult was last year going from the rotation to the bullpen?

SD: It's just kind of what you make of it, like every pitcher, you love going out there and competing, so you go out there and do what they tell you to do, you just kind of take it and go with it. You've got to think positive and be ready to go each game whatever they want you to do.

DM: You gave up a lot of home runs last year. Looking back what could you have done differently?

SD: Keeping the ball down, that's, really important, if you don't keep the ball down you will get hit around a lot.

DM: You had eight different catchers last year, four of which you had worked with the years before. How did that affect you last year?

SD: We get along great with our catchers, every catcher brings something to the table. You just have trust in your catcher, and if you have trust in your catcher it would be an easy transition. It was easy for us, we usually don't have problems with that.

DM: Your one complete game in your career was on 6/25/07 vs. Burlington. What do you remember about that game?

SD: It was actually a really cool experience. My family was in town visiting so they got to see that. I'll never forget that. Matt Smith was my catcher, and it was his first game up in pro ball. It was just a great all around experience and I will always remember that.

DM: You tied the Cougars career mark of Dan Fyvie (04-06) yesterday for games pitched with 91. What does that mean to you?

SD: It's pretty cool, being up there for career leader for a team, I didn't know that stat, but it's pretty exciting and it's pretty fun.

DM: Why did you sign out of high school?

SD: It was a decision my family and I made; I felt I was ready to go play professional baseball. I just wanted that to be my job and just focus on baseball, now I have the option to go back to school, whenever I want to or can.

DM: Are you currently going to school in the off-season?

SD: Not going as of right now but I will be starting very soon.

DM: What are your top 5 songs on your iPod?

SD: I like Rascal Flats, Taylor Swift, just anything country.

DM: What was your first pro at-bat like last night [on Friday]?

SD: I was actually pretty nervous. I didn't hit in high school, so it was pretty fun, I was just happy to have made contact, fouled a couple off, otherwise that is another thing that I will always remember. It was really fun and a good experience.

DM: You were that option once before this year to get an at-bat, (when the Cougars lost their DH).

SD: It was actually pretty weird. It was the same scenario, I was the fifth batter of that inning. I didn't get a chance to hit that time, but [Friday] night I was the fourth batter, and I got a chance to hit, it was really fun.

DM: If you were not playing baseball what would you be doing?

SD: Going to school. I'm not sure what my major would be, and I'm not sure yet what I want to do, but I'd be going to school and figuring out what I want to do.

DM: What do you do for fun besides play baseball?

DM: I love the Seattle Seahawks. I have season tickets and every Sunday I go with my dad, and family and friends, I love hiking, I really got into it last year and it has been a lot of fun. Otherwise the off-season is a relaxing time. I like to relax, and get ready for next year and work out.

DM: Are you helping coaching the pitchers with advice?

SD: The new guys that were just drafted this year, I give them little tips here and there, how things work, and just help them along the way, if they have any questions -- in case they are too shy to ask people -- with anything they need.

DM: What are you favorite places in the Midwest League?

SD: I like Fun City, Iowa, which is Burlington, Iowa [the hotel they stay at]. They have a really cool hotel, Dayton has a really great stadium and great fans. Those are probably my two favorites.

DM: What advice would you have for newcomers to the league?

SD: Have fun with it. Everyday is different, and if you have a bad day you come out the next day, with a positive attitude. It's a long season just get a good experience out of everything.

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