The Braves selected right-hander Rudy Quinonez in the twelfth round of the 2005 draft last June. Quinonez pitched in 24 games for Danville, saving ten of those games. He also had a 2.60 ERA, 17 hits allowed in 27.2 innings, 8 walks, and 40 strikeouts. This season, Quinonez is probably headed to Single-A Rome, with a good chance for a promotion to Myrtle Beach if he does well in the Sally League. Here's an interview I did with Quinonez, who pitched for the Braves in their big league spring training game Monday, last summer after he was drafted in June.
SHANKS: What has the last week been like for you since you were drafted?
QUINONEZ: It's been pretty fun. I'm still in a little bit of a shock, but it's been good to get out here and meet some of the guys. It's been all right.
SHANKS: What did you expect going into the draft?
QUINONEZ: I had talked with a lot of teams and I knew I was going to get drafted, but I wasn't sure what round. I had heard 10-15, so it was pretty much expected. But I talked to the Braves a lot, so I was really excited to hear from them.
SHANKS: So you knew they had an interest in you?
SHANKS: As a reliever do worry more about being drafted than if you were a starter?
QUINONEZ: I think nowadays a lot of teams are looking to draft relievers with the big closers and stuff in the major leagues now. So guys are actually looking for that. That benefited me personally.
SHANKS: So what kind of pitcher are you? Tell me about your stuff?
QUINONEZ: I just like to compete. I like to go at hitters with my best stuff. I just like to go at hitters as hard as I can.
SHANKS: What's your fastball topped out at?
QUINONEZ: I've hit 94 this past year, but I'm usually at 90-92. I throw my slider a lot.
SHANKS: So the slider is the out pitch?
SHANKS: What other off speed pitches do you throw?
QUINONEZ: I throw a changeup, but I really didn't throw it much since I come in for an inning or so as the closer. So I just went fastball and slider most of the time.
SHANKS: So were you a strikeout guy at Fresno State?
QUINONEZ: Yeah I struck out a lot of guys. But I got a lot of ground balls with my slider.
SHANKS: Have you always been a reliever?
QUINONEZ: Yes – in college for the last three years.
SHANKS: How do you like being a reliever?
QUINONEZ: I like it to be honest with you. It's fun to come into those situations with runners on base. I personally enjoy it.
SHANKS: Some people think relievers have to have that closer's mentality.
QUINONEZ: For me, I just take that mentality no matter what situation I come into pitch. And that's probably because I've been a reliever for so long. I just want to take that mentality out there no matter what the situation is.
SHANKS: How close are you, particularly since you were a college pitcher?
QUINONEZ: I feel like I've made a lot of improvements through my college years, but I'm sure there's room for more improvement. I hope I can just get out there and start throwing and hopefully have a shot pretty soon. We'll see.
SHANKS: Have they told you yet where you're going to go?
QUINONEZ: I'm going to Danville first.
SHANKS: Even though you've been out in California, you know the Braves have been successful with pitching. How does that make you feel?
QUINONEZ: It's awesome. I've heard a lot of great things about the Braves. It's pretty well known how they like to bring up young pitchers through their system, so that was a big plus for me.
SHANKS: Okay, so you're 6'2", correct?
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.
Rudy Quinonez Interview
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