Talks With Johnson, McBride, & Davies

BravesCenter.Com Editor Bill Shanks has visited with several of the Braves top prospects lately. Here are a few interviews with several players at AA Greenville.

KELLY JOHNSON / GREENVILLE OUTFIELDER

SHANKS: You've had to go through a lot in development since you have had to move around defensively. How has it gone? Do feel that your development has had a natural progression?
JOHNSON: Yea a little bit. Defensively, being out in right field I've gotten comfortable out there now. I still take ground balls everyday. I feel comfortable at five or six positions now. They're starting to write articles now in major magazines about the super utility guys that play all these positions like Ryan Freel and Jolbert Cabrera and guys like that. You can see where that's going to only help you. Offensively, coming back and still being young in the league and being able to learn more is definitely going to help. I still have another level to go. Some people think that you can get to big leagues from AA and that it's just automatic. But if you do well, that's still not true. There are still a lot of great players in AAA that are ahead of us here. We've still got a ways to go. But if you can put together something, then you never know.

SHANKS: How is the conversion to the outfield going?
JOHNSON: I feel like I took it in stride. It wasn't a great adjustment. It's different. The best part about is that I know that if I ever got a call-up I could go up there and they could put me in anywhere. That's the best part about it.

SHANKS: Have the position changes slowed your timetable down?
JOHNSON: No I don't have a timetable for getting to the big leagues. When you're ready to go up there, you're ready to go up there. The game is not any different. Guys can go up and do the same thing that they're doing in the minor leagues. It happens all the time. Whenever I feel ready to contribute and the Braves feel I'm ready to contribute, I don't think the difference in whatever I'm doing at that time when they say hey go up will change much. I don't think I'm there yet. I don't think it matters

MACAY MCBRIDE / GREENVILLE RELIEVER

SHANKS: Can you talk about your transition to the bullpen?
MCBRIDE: It's going good. I feel like I've come a long way. I've never been so relaxed as a player. Usually I'm very intense when I get out there on the mound. But you can't be too intense for seven innings and then go into the eighth and go in and pitch an inning. It's a little different ballgame. I've been lucky. My arm's feeling great. I kinda like this thing – not as much as starting but it's coming around.

SHANKS: I know it is different but do you feel it is helping your development?
MCBRIDE: Yea it is. I've learned how to warm up quicker. If I ever go back to starting or when I go back to starting it's going to be five pitches (for the catcher) standing up and twenty pitches down. It'll take me three minutes to warm up. Not holding anything back. I was big on not showing a team's lineup everything you had. Well now if you don't get out of one inning you can't get to the next inning. So I just treat every inning like a bullpen appearance. Just come in and throw everything you have at them. If you do that for six innings, you've got no runs on the board. I feel like it's made my stuff a lot better.

KYLE DAVIES / GREENVILLE STARTING PITCHER

SHANKS: Now that you've been in the system for a few years. How are you developing? What are the advantages of being in an organization that is so pitching oriented?
DAVIES: They put the priority on pitching but they really push the pitchers too. It's not that they cater to pitchers. They tell you, "This is what you need to do and if you don't do it it's your prerogative. We've had a track record of doing this stuff for a long time now and we know what works." We've come a long way. All the pitching coaches are great. Bruce Dal Canton, Kent Willis, and all the way down. There's really good pitching instruction. Plus all the pitchers here makes you kind of compete with yourself. You've got so many great pitchers around that it kind of makes you better.

SHANKS: This season for you. How is your development going?
DAVIES: I think it's going a lot better. The main concern this year was that my breaking ball needed to get better. I needed to have three pitches. That's what's been the key to my success is having the breaking ball. At the beginning of the season I couldn't spin a ball up there to save my life. But now it's starting to come around. I feel comfortable with it.

SHANKS: What all are you throwing?
DAVIES: Fastball, curve, and change up. 94. I've topped 95. Usually it's at 91-93.

SHANKS: Do you feel you've moved up in the pecking order a little bit?
DAVIES: I don't think so. You've got so many great pitchers here. Any of those guys at Myrtle Beach could've been called up. Any of them could come up and pitch just as fine as anybody else. I was pitching good at the time so I got the opportunity.

SHANKS: When you get to AA can you see Atlanta a little clearer?
DAVIES: If you put together 5 or 6 good starts and somebody goes down you might get a chance. You never know. Here you know you are one phone call from going up. No pressure at all!

Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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