Q&A with Mitch Atkins

Peoria's Mitch Atkins is undefeated in six starts this season with a 2.01 ERA, a nice turnaround from a year ago at Boise when he was 3-6 with a plus-five ERA in 15 starts. What's been the biggest reason for his success thus far in '06? The 20-year-old right-hander explains.

Inside The Ivy: What's been the biggest difference for you this season as opposed to last?

Mitch Atkins: The biggest difference is that I'm more comfortable and more confident. Last year I was throwing the ball a lot, as in too many pitches. I was a little disappointed in my record last year and my stats weren't great by any means. It didn't really get me down too much, but with the way I've been pitching so far, I have a lot more confidence on the mound. I've been throwing the ball well, but the competition is still tough. You can't make any mistakes or they'll hurt you.

Inside The Ivy: Remind us again of your repertoire.

Mitch Atkins: I have a fastball around 90-91 mph, a changeup and a curveball.

Inside The Ivy: Do you consider any one particular pitch an out-pitch?

Mitch Atkins: It all depends. I try to get as many hitters out with my fastball, but lately I've been throwing my breaking ball a lot more. I'm one of those guys who thinks that all three are "out" pitches and that I can strike a guy out with either one.

Inside The Ivy: What was the most important thing you learned pitching at Boise?

Mitch Atkins: Mainly just throwing inside to hitters. I was fortunate in that my changeup really came around last year. I was able to change speeds better and work both sides of the plate.

Inside The Ivy: Other than the confidence level, what's been the biggest difference from last season?

Mitch Atkins: Simply getting off to a good start really helps. I had a good Spring Training. Last year, I didn't get off too good and it sort of carried with me. This year, I'm just rolling with it.

Inside The Ivy: Still taking any ribbing from the Napoleon Dynamite jokes?

Mitch Atkins: Yeah, we have some new guys on the team that tell me how much I look like him. I always say, "Yeah, you're a little late with that one."

Inside The Ivy: Kerry Wood is in town and will start Sunday. Are you looking forward to gabbing with him a little?

Mitch Atkins: It would be nice to talk to him. The best part is talking to the catchers after the game and finding out how he calls his game.

Inside The Ivy: You were originally slated to start Sunday, correct?

Mitch Atkins: I was. I got bumped up a day or two because Jesus Yepez had a little blister. But it's nice having Kerry Wood come in and see how he goes about his day, like how he works the hitters.

Inside The Ivy: Congrats on a great start this year.

Mitch Atkins: Thank you. Much appreciated.


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