Cubs Prospect Interview: Matt Avery

In his first full professional season since being drafted a year ago, Peoria's Matt Avery was recently nominated to the 2006 Class-A Midwest League All-Star Team. In 35 2/3 innings, the right-hander has the lowest ERA on the Chiefs' pitching staff at 1.26 in 20 relief appearances.

Avery was selected by the Cubs from the University of Virginia in the ninth round of last year's draft. A starter throughout most of his college career in the ACC, the 22-year-old has pitched exclusively from relief at Peoria this season.

With just over a week to go until the All-Star Game (set for June 20 in Davenport, Iowa), we caught up with Avery and asked him about the move to the ‘pen and his noticeable success in '06.

Inside The Ivy: Congratulations on the all-star nomination!

Matt Avery: Thank you. It is such a great honor to be nominated. This season, things have gone really well. We've been playing good baseball and when your team is fighting for a playoff spot, it makes you concentrate a little bit more. I've also had some guys make a lot of great plays behind me that may not have normally been made by other players in the past.

Inside The Ivy: The major difference has been the move into the bullpen. Was it something you expected to happen going into the year?

Matt Avery: It was something that I probably expected at some point and time in my professional career. Whether I thought it would be this year or some time down the road, I didn't really give a whole lot of thought to it. But yeah, it's something I thought would eventually happen. I've tried to adjust to it the best I can and so far, it's gone really well. I've enjoyed it a lot, being able to throw more and being active in more games. It fits my personality really well I think.

Inside The Ivy: Have you had to alter anything in terms of mechanics or your approach?

Matt Avery: No, I haven't altered anything mechanically or delivery-wise. I've tried to pitch the same way I did as a starter and haven't tried to read too much into the reliever's role.

Inside The Ivy: Do you enjoy it as much as you do starting?

Matt Avery: I like them both to be honest. If they came back to me and told me I'd be returning to starting, I'd be very happy. If I end up being a reliever the rest of my career, I'm just as happy with that. I like different things about them both. As a reliever, I like the opportunity to throw maybe every couple of games. Just being a part of more games, more frequently, I enjoy that. As a reliever, you come in facing more situations. The challenges you get as a reliever and being thrown in all kinds of different spots is something that's pretty cool. I enjoy that part about it. The bottom line is, you're out there pitching.

Inside The Ivy: Do you find yourself throwing harder from the bullpen? Has there been any difference there?

Matt Avery: I've not really noticed much of a difference that I'm aware of. As a starter in college, you're throwing once every seven days. Once you make the transition, it takes a little longer to get used to throwing as frequently as I am now. It's definitely a challenge, but I don't think I'm throwing any harder or less hard than before.

Inside The Ivy: Tyler Colvin is from the same conference you're from. What do you know about him from facing him in college?

Matt Avery: I can't remember off the top of my head that much about him. Clemson has a lot of good hitters, though, and I saw his numbers and they've been doing great this year, of course. It's a good ball club that produces a lot of good players. I have no doubt he's a top-notch player.

Inside The Ivy: Remind us again of your repertoire.

Matt Avery: I throw a fastball, curveball and slider primarily. My fastball registers between 88 to 92 mph.

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