Jameson Maj: Using Control to Move Upward

Dustin Mattison recently caught up with Quad Cities River Bandits pitcher Jameson Maj in this exclusive interview.

The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Jameson Maj in the 45th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft.  The defending World Champions had to be surprised that the record-setting closer was still available.  Playing at Abilene Christian, Maj tied the Division II record with 20 saves that spring.   In 54 innings, he struck out 72 hitters while walking only four and finished the season with an ERA of 1.00.


Before pitching at Abilene Christian, the 6-foot-4 right-hander attended Vernon College in 2006 and Treasure Valley in 2005.  While at Treasure Valley, he was a teammate of current Memphis Redbirds pitcher Clayton Mortensen. 


Maj signed with the Cardinals at the deadline that summer after excelling in the Texas Collegiate Summer League.  Pitching for Denton, he posted a 1.88 ERA with four saves on his way to being named an All-Star.  Opposing hitters posted just a .172 average while Maj struck out 26 in 24 innings of work.


Being a late sign, Maj's pro debut was limited.  He appeared in only two games for Batavia, striking out two in 1.1 innings.


Maj would start his first full professional season in extended spring training before heading back to Batavia.  He posted a 3.63 ERA in nine starts while striking out 37 compared to only four walks in 39.2 innings. 


On August 6, Maj was promoted to the Quad Cities of the Midwest League.  In his full season debut, the 22-year-old struck out four hitters in four shutout innings to pick up the save.  In 16.2 innings for the River Bandits, the Washington native has posted a 5.40 ERA with an exceptional 15-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio. 


That is a combined 52-to-6 strikeout to walk ratio between the two levels in 2008. 


I had a chance to catch up with Maj recently and he was kind enough to talk about life in professional baseball and how happy he is to be a pro ballplayer.   



Dustin Mattison: Tell me about life during your first professional season.

Jameson Maj: It's been interesting. I showed up to spring training and started rehabbing an elbow injury. I was in extended the whole time and was glad to be placed on a short season team. Now I'm in Quad Cities and it's been good to get my feet wet as far as (full-season) professional ball goes.

DM: I know that you haven't been in the Quad Cities long, but can you compare the Midwest League and the New York-Penn League?

JM: So far the major thing I see is more mistake pitches are hit in the Midwest League. Guys are advanced in using wood bats and seem to swing it a little better power wise.

DM: You had a very good season at Abilene Christian in 2007, tying the Division II saves record. How disappointing was it to be drafted in the 45th round and does that give you extra motivation to prove to everyone that you should have been selected much higher?

JM: First of all, I am happy I was drafted. Maybe it is not where I feel I should've been but I'm here and that was the main concern for me during the draft. In a way it does give me some motivation but I also feel I just need to go out there and pitch the way I know how and not try to be something I'm not.

DM: You were a closer during your years at Abilene Christian and Vernon College. Now as a professional you have been in the tandem starting rotation. What has that transition been like?

JM: Yes, I really liked coming in at the end with the game on the line. It's been a little bit of a transition. Up until the year before (my last year at Abilene Christian), I had been a starter my whole life so I had an idea of how to approach it. It wasn't totally new but it is making me develop other pitches that in the long run will be great for me.

DM: Do you think you think you project as a starter or a reliever and have the Cardinals given you any indication in that regard?

JM: Actually, I am not sure. I feel a little better as a reliever but I also think that with my control I could be a starter, given how my other pitches develop. I do not know what the Cardinals are going to do with me. I just want to be effective whether it be from the pen or as a starter.

DM: Tell me about your repertoire. What would you consider to be your out-pitch?

JM: My fastball is my best pitch; mainly a four-seamer while I am working on a two-seamer. I throw a slider, changeup and split finger. I would consider my "out-pitch" to be more of a location than type of pitch. Nothing is overpowering so I rely on placement more than anything to by my "out-pitch."

DM: What are your plans for the offseason?

JM: My plans for the offseason as of right now are to get my arm healthy, get a job and show up to spring training with better offspeed offerings.  I want to be ready to compete for a spot on a roster on the higher level teams.

DM: What did you know about the Cardinals before they drafted you?

JM: Honestly, I did not know much about the Cardinals other than that they were in the National League Central Division and that they won the 2006 World Series. I grew up a big Mariners fan watching Johnson, Griffey, and A-Rod. Other than being fairly close to Seattle, the next closest teams distance-wise were either the Giants or the Rockies.

DM: What do you like to do when not playing baseball?

JM: I love to be outdoors. I love to hunt and fish. Basically anything you can do not bottled up in a building. I was getting my degree to start some sort of guiding service but I am not exactly sure what I'd do with that degree. I plan on playing baseball and everything working out.

DM: Who are some of your closest friends in the organization?

JM: I know a lot of guys now and I am still meeting guys within the organization. I played with Mortensen during my first year of college at Treasure Valley and have kept in touch with him through the years. As of right now I'm still meeting and learning about guys so it's ongoing.

DM: You and Arquimedes Nieto proved to be quite a one-two punch at Batavia. What can you tell us about him and his repertoire?

JM: The one thing that sticks out about him is his ability to minimize scoring for opponents with runners on base. If he got in a jam it seemed every time he got out of it. I wouldn't say he overpowers hitters.  He is still really young and doing great. I do think he could be a great pitcher down the road.

DM: Lastly, you will discover that there are thousands of Cardinals fans with a keen interest in the organization's Minor Leaguers. What should they know about you that they probably don't already know?

JM: Well, I would have to say that there is not much. I'll just say I hope to help out every team I play for and hope to be a valuable part of the Cardinals in the future.


I would like to thank Jameson for doing the article and wish him the best of luck in his hopefully long future with the St. Louis Cardinals. 



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


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