Q: Obviously the Cubs had some interest in you, but how surprised were you to be picked in the first round?
A: It was a little surprising, but I knew that the Cubs had a lot of interest in me. I didn't know for sure if it was first-round interest; there were some other teams that had some interest in me as well. But it was a very pleasant surprise.
Q: We've heard your fastball is anywhere from 91 to 97 mph. Which is closer?
A: I usually sit in between 93 to 94.
Q: Can you give us a full rundown of your repertoire?
A: I throw a changeup and I've yet to see anybody throw it the way I throw it. It's hard to explain, but I throw it two different ways – one way to right-handed batters where it drops straight down and another way to lefties where it runs away and goes down. And I throw a two-seam fastball that's more like a sinker; an overhand 12-6 curveball; then the four-seam fastball and then I throw a slider that's two different ways as well.
Q: Where do the Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt comparisons come from? You've been likened to both. In what ways are you similar to those pitchers?
A: Obviously we're similar in body build. I'd like to think that the way I think is a lot like Roy Oswalt. We've got the same bulldog mentality and we're both really competitive. Lincecum is a kind of thing where our deliveries are somewhat similar. My delivery is not as ‘wild' as his is, but we pitch a lot the same way. I like to think I throw my changeup a lot of the same way that Lincecum does. But I think a lot of the comparisons are coming from body build, fastball speed and just overall competitiveness and athleticism.
Q: One of your last starts came down in Tampa in a game against Florida Southern, and I believe you struck out 13 batters and did not allow a walk. Tim Wilken said he believed you did not even throw Ball 3. What was working for you that made that outing so dominant?
A: Everything was working. To me, I'm a good enough athlete to where if one of my pitches isn't working, usually the other three are. I can make adjustments really well during the game, during that inning and pitch to pitch. I think that's what it takes to be successful, but that night, everything was on. I felt like I could have closed my eyes and thrown a strike anywhere I wanted to.
Q: It seems like you're just glowing with confidence right now. Obviously your record in college speaks for itself.
A: I read an article one time on Dennis Eckersley, who said: "You can't fake a good fastball, but I'm sure as hell not going to let the hitter know that." Confidence is one thing where either you have it or you don't. It's a mentality with pitching. If you don't have confidence, you don't have anything if you're standing on that mound.
Q: You proved to the Cubs that you're first-round material. Do you feel now that you have to go out and prove that to the fans and the media?
A: I think that I just need to go out there and do what I've always done and the rest will take care of itself. I'm very proud and excited to be a Chicago Cub and I sure don't want to let anybody down, but I don't think I will. I just need to go do what got me here. I think that will be enough.
Q: What made you decide on a Division II school, and did you get many offers from Division I schools?
A: I was being recruited by Division I schools. They wanted to see me pitch again at the end of the spring and I more or less just wanted to get that over with because I knew we had a really good team in high school that year, and we were trying to win a state championship. I threw a one-hitter in the state championship game and got beat, 2-1. That was not good, but I felt like [going to Southern Arkansas] was the best for me and it turns out it was a very good decision and it's hard to argue with what happened. I think that was the best decision that I could have made at the time, and looking back at it now, knowing what I know, I'd have made the same decision.
Q: You were also quarterback of the football team your senior year of high school. Was baseball always your first love?
A: Baseball was my first love. It always came real natural to me. Don't get me wrong: I loved playing football and I would never change anything that happened with that, but baseball always was my first love. I knew if I had a shot, it would be in playing baseball and I put all my time and effort into chasing that goal.
Q: Tell us a little about who Hayden Simpson is. What do you do when you're not at the ballpark? What are your hobbies?
A: To be honest with you, I wake up in the morning thinking about baseball. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is go to the baseball field and spend a couple of hours there working out. In the fall and winter time, I love to hunt and fish. I love duck hunting and deer hunting, and I like hanging out with my friends. But my main hobby – and now my job – is playing baseball. And I love it. It's the best job in the world.
Q: In Arkansas, there are obviously a lot of Cardinals fans and Texas Rangers fans among others. Were you a Cubs fan growing up and did you watch a lot of their games on WGN and ESPN?
A: We get all of the Cubs games on WGN in Magnolia, so I always watched the Cubs. I've always been a fan of the Cubs and I liked some other teams, too. But just the history of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field is awesome and I'm extremely proud to be a part of that organization now.
Q: Did you have a favorite Cubs player growing up?
A: I'm not sure. I always liked watching old film on Ernie Banks. I loved watching Ryne Sandberg and players like that, and I loved watching Kerry Wood pitch.
Q: The name Hayden, I think, is kind of interesting. The Cubs don't have anyone in the organization that shares your name. Why did your parents choose that name?
A: You know I'm not sure. I don't know if anybody has ever asked me that question before. [laughs] I'm not sure, but now I'm going to have to go home and ask them.