Zach Schreiber Interview

The Atlanta Braves have a tremendous number of solid relief prospects in the farm system, including right-hander Zach Schreiber, Atlanta's 16th round pick in the 2004 draft out of Duke. BravesCenter's Bill Shanks talked with Schreiber about the upcoming season.

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

SHANKS: What the transition been like for you from college (Duke) to pro ball?
SCHREIBER: The biggest difference I've noticed is the individual game, rather than in college it's more of a team effort, cheering on their teammates. In pro ball, it seems like more of an individual thing, but yet there is a team aspect to it. It's just not as great as it was in college.

SHANKS: What was your role at Duke?
SCHREIBER: The first three years I was a reliever. I closed a little bit my junior year, and then my senior year I became a starter.

SHANKS: Did they do that to get you more innings, or were you one of the better pitchers on the team?
SCHREIBER: To tell you the truth my junior year I wanted to start, and they convinced me to be a closer. They said it would be the best thing for the team, so I went along with it, of course. I really did want to start. Throughout my college career, we didn‘t really win a lot of games. Come my senior year, I started every weekend, and we ended up doing pretty well.

SHANKS: When you go to college and they you that you're going to be a reliever, do you feel that they think you're not good enough to be a starter, or what?
SCHREIBER: Coming in I didn't expect to be a weekend starter anyways. I thought maybe I had a shot at being a mid-week starter, but from the get-go they put me in as a relief pitcher, mostly middle relief. I did pretty well my freshman and sophomore years, and then my junior year they wanted to make me a closer. My fastball was pretty good, higher than average. I really didn't figure out how to put everything together, like the slider, curveball, and changeup until my senior year. That's when I put it all together.

SHANKS: Were teams looking at you before your senior year, or did your senior year make you a prospect?
SCHREIBER: I had a few teams talking to me my junior year, but nothing really came out of it. I didn't get drafted. I ended up only throwing like thirty-something innings. I didn't really throw a lot. Plus, we didn't win a lot of games, so the closing opportunities didn't come along a that much. But I was happy my senior year to get a shot at starting, and it went well.

SHANKS: And that's when you really became a prospect, when teams had a better chance to take a look at you with more innings?
SCHREIBER: Yeah. It was definitely the more innings. The more I pitched, the more people saw me. I was pitching in the ACC every weekend, so whether the scouts came to watch me or someone else, I was pitching somewhere every weekend. It worked out well.

SHANKS: When you got here, did they feel like you'd be a reliever? Did Billy Best (Braves' scout who signed Schreiber) feel you'd be a reliever?
SCHREIBER: Yeah actually the day I signed he said they were going to have me as a reliever. I didn't have a problem with that at all. I actually kind of like coming out of the bullpen. It's not like starting where you have to wait five days; if you have a bad outing you can get right back out there in the next couple of days and redeem yourself if you have a bad outing.

SHANKS: The Braves really try to develop relievers, unlike most organizations. Do you feel that?
SCHREIBER: Oh definitely. Definitely. It's a whole different category, starters and relievers. They kind of keep them separate. We have a different routine, especially running, conditioning, and weights - all that stuff. It's totally different. They try to prep you for your job specifically, rather than doing an all-around pitcher's thing, where all the pitchers do the same thing.

SHANKS: When you got down here, they kind of scaled you back. Was that because you had thrown a lot of innings at Duke?
SCHREIBER: Yeah I think I threw 90-something innings my senior year as a starter. I know there were guys in college that threw way more than that. But there were a couple of times when I would come back in mid-week and close a game. I was being used a lot in short periods of time. My shoulder was a little sore, so they shut me down for six weeks. We did a lot of rehab stuff, a lot of strength exercises. I came back feeling great, feeling strong. When I came down for instructs after that short season there, and I pitched pretty well in instructs and had a good feeling going into spring training last year.

SHANKS: As you look back, how do you feel you did last season (1-3 in Rome in 27 games with a 2.94 ERA, and 0-2 in Myrtle Beach in 15 games with a 2.84 ERA - 56 K's overall in 59 innings pitched)?
SCHREIBER: Last season, I think I had a pretty good season. I really enjoyed it. Started out in Rome, and then I had the opportunity to go up to Myrtle Beach early. I didn't pitch, so I came back to Rome. I did a lot of traveling, but finally by the end of the season I stayed up in Myrtle Beach and had a pretty good season up there as well.

SHANKS: Do you feel yourself developing as a pitcher?
SCHREIBER: Yeah I think so. I think my control has definitely gotten better. I think I'm feeling better about my mechanics. I'm learning when I feel there's something wrong, I can kind of tell and I can adjust it rather than just doing a total overhaul of everything. Just the little things - I'm learning to tweak those.

SHANKS: What all are you throwing now?
SCHREIBER: Right now it's a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. My fastball tops out at 93, 94 on good days, but usually around 88-91 most of the time.

SHANKS: How does the competition around here help you?
SCHREIBER: We do have a lot of pitchers. It's kind of overwhelming for the younger guys when they come out and see all the red jerseys running around because I know my first year of spring training I saw all those red jerseys and thought, "Man if twelve guys only go to each full season club, I better get to work." Once you learn the ropes, it's not as bad. But you do know there is some competition there, and it makes you work even harder.

SHANKS: So it does push you?
SCHREIBER: Oh definitely.

SHANKS: You guys are friends, but there is competition in trying to catch the scout's eye>
SCHREIBER: Yeah that's the main thing you always want to make a good impression with the guys in upper management. Sometimes it's tough because it seems there are so many guys they are trying to watch, but all you can do is go out there when you get your chance and give it your best shot. Hopefully somebody's going to like you along the way and give you that shot.

SHANKS: You'll probably be in AA at some point this year, if not on Opening Day. That's getting close.
SCHREIBER: Yeah, definitely exciting. It's a call away from the big leagues. That's my goal - to get up there. I'm just going to keep working at it.

SHANKS: Now how many Dukies have made the big leagues?
SCHREIBER: I couldn't tell you an exact number right now. We have several knocking on the door of the big leagues. Larry Broadway of the Nationals, Scott Schoenweis. Chris Capuano. Quinten McCracken. So yeah we have some guys in pro ball. It was fun to play there. I made a lot of good friends.

SHANKS: It's not only not a baseball school, but a non-baseball school at an institution so known for basketball.
SCHREIBER: Definitely. I wish the football program would be a little better too. They have a new baseball coaching staff in there now. They came in the year after I left. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.

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

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