Cubs Prospect Interview: Clay Rapada

Sidearm left-handers often carry a lot of weight when it comes to being scouted and considered for promotions. Clay Rapada is no different.  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp

The southpaw has 16 saves and a 1.08 ERA in 25 appearances for Double-A West Tennessee. This after an injury riddled season a year ago that saw him compete at Daytona in only 27 games for all of 2005. The previous year at Lansing, Rapada led Lugnut relievers with a 2.33 ERA in 85 innings.

Inside The Ivy: You've been with the organization since 2002. Tell us a little about your journey so far.

Clay Rapada: Being from Chesapeake (Va.), I'm from a pretty good baseball background. I played with some great ballplayers there, like David Wright, B.J. Upton and Ryan Zimmerman. So I've got some good roots and have put together some good numbers through the years with the Cubs. This year, I was fortunate to find myself here in Double-A.

Inside The Ivy: A season ago, you battled a couple of injuries in a limited season at High A. We understand you originally had planned to begin 2005 at West Tenn.

Clay Rapada: Last year was a huge setback, because the initial report was that I was going to be sent here. But I strained my rotator cuff in the spring and had to rehab for a month and a half in Arizona. When I was sent to Daytona, my arm was still not fully up to speed. It took me a few weeks to get used to the everyday throwing. I was able to get on track and put up some good numbers, and then unfortunately had to have surgery (appendix).

Inside The Ivy: Being a sidearm lefty as you are, how much of an advantage do you feel you have?

Clay Rapada: I think it gives me more of an advantage than usual. I throw fairly hard for a sidearm guy and I have some pretty good sink on the ball. The fact that I'm able to control that sink pretty good is all the more of an advantage, because instead of just grooming straight fastballs, I'm able to throw with it and get a lot of groundballs.

Inside The Ivy: Define "fairly hard."

Clay Rapada: I'm usually between 87 and 91 mph.

Inside The Ivy: Remind us again of your repertoire.

Clay Rapada: I throw a two-seam fastball, a slider and changeup to lefties and righties, and a curveball to lefties.

Inside The Ivy: What's one thing behind your success against Double-A hitters that you can pinpoint this year?

Clay Rapada: The one thing I've been able to learn is that when I do miss my pitches, I miss down in the zone as opposed to up. I try not to get caught up in all of the numbers and just take it one outing at a time and learn from each one. I try not to get too mental, trust my stuff, and stay aggressive. Also, most of the times when I have pitched, I've pitched with a lead. That's definitely an advantage as a pitcher.

Inside The Ivy: I know the game in Huntsville Tuesday was washed out due to the Jaxx dugout being flooded. How bad was the damage?

Clay Rapada: Actually, I walked about halfway down the tunnel and saw all the waves of water. I thought to myself, "Uh, I think I'm just going to go back to the clubhouse!"

Inside The Ivy: Good idea! What have you and your coaches (Mike Anderson, Lester Strode) all been working on the most this year?

Clay Rapada: Just getting into a good routine and being able to master my crafts and throwing quality strikes.

Inside The Ivy: Earlier this year, your manager (Pat Listach) said you were closing games not by design, but rather by a luck-of-the-draw type approach. Do you or the Cubs now consider you a full-time closer?

Clay Rapada: No one's said anything to me about it. It's just a situation where everyone believes in me and I believe in myself. It's one of those unspoken things.

Inside The Ivy: Thanks for your time, Clay.

Clay Rapada: You bet.

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