Jeff Lyman Interview

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks continues his conversations with the Braves' draft picks with second rounder Jeff Lyman.

SHANKS: What was draft week like for you?
LYMAN: It was an incredible week. It's an incredible feeling to know what I'm going to be doing for the next couple of years of my life.

SHANKS: So when did you know the Braves were first interested in you?
LYMAN: Well their area scout has been calling me since the beginning of the year. They were one of the teams that would pretty much call every week or every other week, so I knew that they were interested. But I didn't know it was going to be the way that it was. They had called a bunch, but I wasn't really sure what was going to happen.

SHANKS: Tell me about your high school career. Have you always been a pitcher?
LYMAN: No I wasn't always a pitcher. My freshman year I was actually a starting catcher. It wasn't until my sophomore that I really started to pitch and really focused on pitching. From then on I was really a pitcher. I think about my junior year my velocity took off, and that's when I finally realized I had a chance to play college ball after high school. I didn't really think I had a shot to play until the start of this year.

SHANKS: When did your velocity really pop up? Last year?
LYMAN: Yeah. From the end of my sophomore year to my junior year I think I added about ten miles an hour.

SHANKS: So what's your stuff like?
LYMAN: I throw a four-seamer, another pitch that acts almost like a sinker, slider, and a split. I'm working on a straight changeup right now.

SHANKS: How is your curve?
LYMAN: It's more like a slurve-like pitch. I think it's going to be better down the road if I tighten it up and make it more like a slider.

SHANKS: So going into last week, what did you think?
LYMAN: I knew that I had a shot with the Braves to go with their last two picks in the second round. But until my name was called, I was sweating bullets. A lot of the teams that I had talked to had me in that late second round or the third round. So I knew when that time came I wasn't going to sneak out of the second round. I had my cutoff at being in the second round. It was kind of nerve-racking.

SHANKS: What did you think when you heard your name with the Braves?
LYMAN: I was so excited. It was an amazing feeling, especially going to a team like the Atlanta Braves that is so prestigious with their rich tradition of winning and developing pitchers and being so successful. I was completely thrilled.

SHANKS: What team did you grow up following?
LYMAN: Besides the local teams, the Oakland A's, my mom was born in Boston so she was a Red Sox fan, so I rooted for them for a while. Instead of arguing with my mom about who was dinner, I just decided to join her on the Red Sox side for a while. Right now, the Atlanta Braves are my favorite team.

SHANKS: So Alamo, is it close to Oakland?
LYMAN: Yeah, it's about a half hour from Oakland.

SHANKS: What does your fastball do?
LYMAN: I topped out at 96 this year, but I'll pitch in the 92-94-range.

SHANKS: I love it when Baseball America projects young kids as a potential closer. Is that something you've thought about, or would you prefer to start?
LYMAN: I'm not really sure. I've always been a starting pitcher. So until somebody tells me to stop starting, I'm going to go out there and do the best I can to be in the Braves' rotation to be up there.

SHANKS: What do you feel you need to work on?
LYMAN: Command. Everybody needs to work on command. I need to firm up my secondary pitches, my slider, slurve, and curve. With the pitching coaches the Braves have, I really feel I can be successful.

SHANKS: So you're 6'3" and 215? Is that correct?
LYMAN: Yes.

SHANKS: How much bigger will you get?
LYMAN: Well, I'm not done growing yet, so I grew about a half inch this year and I can barely shave, so hopefully I've got a few more inches in me.

SHANKS: You probably know the Braves are real big on makeup. Do you fit their profile perfectly?
LYMAN: Yeah, absolutely. You have to be able to go after hitters and be able to throw inside and be competitive. With the pitchers they have, like Smoltz and Tim Hudson, they go out there and go right after guys. It's all about pretty much about not being afraid.

SHANKS: Will the competition with all the pitchers push you to do well?
LYMAN: Yeah, absolutely. There's nothing better than being in competition. Essentially you guys are on the same team, but you're out there to be successful in your own right.

Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development called "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team." Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com


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