Cardinals Prospect Interview: Adam Reifer

After sitting out the 2007 due to injuries, Adam Reifer has taken the New York-Penn League by storm. The 22-year-old is leading the league in saves and has recently been named an All-Star. In this Birdhouse exclusive, Dustin Mattison caught up with the right-hander to discuss subjects like his health, his feelings on being an 11th round pick and more.

The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Adam Reifer in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft. In just six contests in 2007 for the University of California-Riverside, the right-hander posted an ERA of 2.45 in 7.1 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .148 batting average. Reifer was shut down on March 3rd with an elbow injury and did not see additional action.

 

Like many Cardinals draft picks, Reifer played in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League.  Pitching for the Hyannis Mets, he posted a 3.22 ERA during his time on the Cape. 

 

In 2006, Reifer appeared in 20 games while posting a 3.38 ERA for UC-Riverside.  During his freshman year, he made 19 appearances, posting an ERA of 4.76.  The summer in between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Reifer closed for the Peninsula Oilers of the Alaska Baseball League.

 

In the story "Injured Cardinals Draftees Create Intrigue" by Brian Walton, published July 6, 2007, Jeff Luhnow had this to say about Reifer, "Adam was a guy we thought might be considered for the top two rounds," Luhnow said. "He's got a plus-fastball, a hard, late slider, has all the elements you look for in a premier college closer who could move pretty fast through the system... He's got a 91-94 [mph] fastball and a slider at 84.

"To get a top-of-the-Draft arm in the 11th round is great," Luhnow said. "Obviously we have to be careful with him. To get a first- or sandwich-round talent in the 11th round that could be something that really makes this draft." 

This season at Batavia, Reifer is posting stats that make him appear like an early-round talent.  The 22-year-old is leading the New York-Penn League with 16 saves while posting a 3.43 ERA.  He has racked up 29 strikeouts in 21 innings and opponents are batting only .147 against him.  For his effort, he will be one of six to represent the Muckdogs at the 2008 NY-Penn League All-Star Game.

 

Dustin Mattison: How are you feeling? I know you missed most of 2007; would you care to talk about the injury?

Adam Reifer: I'm feeling great; I couldn't imagine my arm feeling better at this point in time. Sure, my injury was extremely disapointing because I knew my junior season was going to big year for me. But I took the injury in stride and just rolled with it. I knew I couldn't do much but listen to my body and do my necessary rehab. I hoped it was nothing any worse than what the doctors initially thought.


DM: To stay on the injury topic, how do you feel you're progressing? Are you where you feel you should be? Is your fastball back, and if so, what are you hitting on the gun?

AF: My injury has progressed a full 180 degrees from where I was at in spring training.  I thought I was ready and I came to camp only to find out that I wasn't ready.  Even so, I felt as though I could come back soon. So through many ups and downs in extended spring training, from thoughts of I may have to have surgery to thinking it was just inflammation and I'll be back throwing in no time, my arm gradually was feeling better and better.

At this point in the season, I guess you can say I feel I am where I should be. I have just wanted to stay healthy and that is ultimately where I wanted to be at this point. Otherwise, I wanted my fastball command and slider to be more consistent but that will come. The fastball has been topped out at 98 this season.
 
DM: Can you tell the readers about your pitches?

AF: My pitches are my fastball, slider and change-up; the fastball is my go-to pitch. It is my out pitch; my everything pitch. The slider is my secondary pitch.  Right now,   I throw it when I am ahead in the count.  The change-up is a pitch that I have but I don't use too often.

DM: What was your Cape Cod League experience like?

AF: My Cape experience was amazing. I had a great host family, I made good friends, and the baseball experience was something I have never seen before. Baseball was just so much fun; it was just a great experince playing against the different ballplayers you hear about from all around the country.

DM: You were drafted in the 11th round. Was that disappointing considering you would most likely have been drafted in the top two rounds if not for injury? Did you consider going back to school to improve your draft status?

AF: I am not going to lie, I was disappointed about where I was drafted but it was something that I could do nothing about.  I had only thrown seven innings with an injury that many teams did not know too much about. Luckily, the Cardinals had enough faith in me that my injury was not too much of an issue.  I knew it was something I could come back from and I am happy about that. I considered going back to school but I did not know the extent of my injury and I did not know the process of how long it was going to take to come back. So I made the smart decision to start my career and be in the care of the Cardinals.

DM: What team did you root for growing up? What did you know of the Cardinals when you were drafted?

AF: My team growing up was the Anaheim Angels. I am a "So Cal Boy" who lives about 40 minutes from the field. When the Cards drafted me, I knew they were a great ballclub and I knew they were going to take care of me.  I enjoy baseball so I have always been able to follow them through ESPN.

DM: Are there any teammates you hang out with when you are not playing baseball? How do you guys pass the time?

AF: If we're talking about here in Batavia, all the guys from the team hang out. We just try to make do with what we have here and I think we manage.  Things like going down to Buffalo, Niagra Falls or Rochester, as there is nothing in Batavia.

DM: The minor league season has only a few weeks left. What are your plans after the season?

AF: My plans for the rest of the season are to get better and to win the New York-Penn League.

DM: You will quickly learn that there are thousands of Cardinals fans that are very interested in the minor league system. What do you want Cardinals fans to know about you that they might not know?

AF: Fans could know that I'm an extrememly laid back person that tries not to take things too seriously.

 

I appreciate Reifer taking the time to this to answer my questions.  I congratulate him on his initial success and wish him the best of luck in the future. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

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