The FutureBacks Interview: Kyler Newby

FutureBacks checks in with Kyler Newby as he prepares to prove last season wasn't a fluke. 50th round picks aren't supposed to be rising stars, they're supposed to be place holders. A new pitch, a lot of compliments, and budding confidence has Newby on the short list of prospects who could surprise in 2006.

FutureBacks:  You had a really solid year last year, and since you went pretty low in the draft it surprised a lot of people, did it surprise you?

Kyler NewbyYes, it was quite surprising.  I got off to a good start, and things were going well, so I sort of didn't want to say anything, just didn't want to curse myself, you know. 

FutureBacks:  Was it tougher to pitch in front of the smaller crowds in Yakima?

Kyler Newby:  Not really, and a lot of the credit for that goes to my coach at Mesa Community College.  He taught us to put blinders on.  It is actually different, because in my situation we were at MCC and we were lucky if we got 20 fans, in Yakima we got 500 or even a couple thousand a game, but my coaches taught me not to think about the fans.  It makes it more intense when there are more people there, and you notice when you're in the bullpen or coming into a game, but once I'm in the game, I put the blinders on.  It's definitely a good feeling.

FutureBacks:  We were talking with Jason Urquidez, and he named you as one of the most impressive guys he saw in Yakima, and he talked about how similar you two are, does that help you?

Kyler Newby:  Jason and I got along really well.  We got to spend a lot of time together down in the bullpen, day in and day out, and I guess we are similar.  He's got just a phenomenal change up, and we would teach each other things.  He would ask about my breaking balls, I would ask about his change.  It was really refreshing, because when I was coming to Yakima, I just though it would be more cutthroat, but whatever guys needed, other guys would step up and help.

FutureBacks:  What have your offseason workouts been like?

Kyler Newby:  The D'Backs gave us a really good program, it's like a 200 page pamphlet about what to do, and I've been following it pretty closely.  Right about now is when I'll start throwing a lot more, not as intense as during the season, but starting to get back into it.  In the offseason it's been a lot more about lifting weights.

FutureBacks:  Was there anything specific they asked you to work on?

Kyler Newby:  They've got me lifting a lot, not really bench presses or anything to try and get you bigger, not a bulk program, but a lot of static lifting, adding strength.  A lot of band workouts that use resistance and stretch.

FutureBacks:  Was there a daily routine there in Yakima that you were able to get into?

Kyler Newby:  It was tough, and it's something that I've been working on in the offseason.  It's a daily routine that is all about mental preparation.  During the offseason it's hard to go to the gym everyday and be dedicated and faithful to something because there isn't an immediate payoff.  So the mental preparation is really good, because it keeps me in the program, keeps me going.

FutureBacks:  You're a guy who doesn't throw 95, most people look at that as a negative, but in a lot of ways guys like you have to actually learn how to pitch sooner, is it really a disadvantage?

Kyler Newby:  If I hadn't learned how to pitch, if MCC hadn't taught me how to really pitch, instead of throw, I wouldn't be with the D'Backs, because I don't throw that hard.  The guys who throw 95 or 96, they get all the signing bonus money, but guys like me and Jason get the majority of the innings, and we kind of become crowd favorites, because we come in and throw strikes and get guys out.  A lot of those guys who can gun the ball just don't know where it's going, and it can get tedious because of walks and stuff.  I love it, because you go into other teams parks and the fans get on you, tell you suck and stuff like that, but you know it's because you've been effective.

FutureBacks:  Do you have a chip on your shoulder about where you were drafted?

Kyler Newby:  When I signed I said to myself, "I'm going to come here and blow everybody away," because my agent was telling me coming into the draft that teams were saying, "We really like him, but we're not sure if we can take him because he's not throwing hard enough."  Now my agent is talking to scouts and they are saying, "Yeah, he's throwing great."  It's kind of nice to be able to throw it back in everybody's face.  It felt good to throw well, and I want to keep throwing well, keep getting better.

FutureBacks:  You've done both, do you prefer being a starter or reliever?

Kyler Newby:  I'll do anything the D'Backs want me to do to make it to the bigs.  Start, relieve, close, whatever.  I started in college, but I loved relieving in Yakima.  It's intense, you're pitching every other day, and I really liked just going out and doing it, just getting in there and doing my job.

FutureBacks:  What do you throw?

Kyler Newby:  In college I was pretty much just a fastball pitcher, because I could locate it really well.  When I got to Yakima, I knew I had a plus curveball, but I knew my change up wasn't that good.  I've worked really hard, but I've been basically a three pitch pitcher until instructs this year.  The Diamondbacks told me they wanted me to start throwing a splitter, and I've picked it up real well.  [Diamondbacks Minor League pitching coordinator] Dennis Lewallyn said "We want you to start throwing it" and some of the other pitchers taught it to me.  I've been working on a cutter or slider as well, but the splitter was the pitch that really came together.

FutureBacks:  Who taught you to throw the splitter?

Kyler Newby:  Adam Bass and Kyle Wright were the guys who showed be, and at first it was a really frustrating pitch, just came out of my hand really flat.  We were playing the Rockies squad in instructs and I just got smoked with it.  It was real hard and frustrating, because you're trying to look good in front of some of the big front office people, but the coaches and front office guys said, "We know what you're working on, just throw it, we understand," and they let me know they didn't care about placing it yet.  After that conversation is when it really started working for me, and I'm feeling really comfortable with it now.

FutureBacks:  Is it the type of pitch that's going to move you through the system really quickly?

Kyler Newby:  I was a late round pick, so I don't see myself moving too fast, the Diamondbacks are pretty stocked on pitchers, so nobody's really moving too fast.  I hope I start the season in South Bend next year, I really don't want to repeat in Yakima, but everybody's dream is to move fast.  I just go out there and try to keep showing them that they made the right choice, keep playing hard and working hard.

FutureBacks:  You had a .176 average against with runners in scoring position, is it an instinct just to bear down in those situations, or is it something you've worked on?

Kyler Newby:  It's weird, because I've always been better in tough situations.  Even hitting in high school, I was a better 0-2 hitter than in any other count.  I'm that way in life in general, even outside of baseball, I'm just good in stressful situations, I handle the stress, handle the pressure, and just bear down and go for it.  It's just in my head that I'm not going to let them score.  I don't really look at my stats during the season, so I didn't know things were that good until my agent told me. 

FutureBacks:  You were a community college guy, which isn't exactly unusual, but in this system especially, there are a lot of pitchers coming from big time D1 programs, is there an intimidation factor?

Kyler Newby:  At first it was a little rough.  I got hit around a little, and you had all these other guys from the huge schools, Stanford and whatever, playing hard and just being phenomenal.  I started thinking, 'What's the difference between me and them?' and 'Why didn't I go back to a big school?'  But baseball is such a political game, and it starts so early.  If I'd gone to a different high school, maybe I would have been at one of those big time D1 schools.  I went to a high school in Las Vegas that is not real big, and it's just sort of known that scouts don't go to the games.  When guys from other schools were playing really well, I just knew that I could be those guys, and I knew if I did I'd find a place to pitch.  The way it worked out was good for me though, and I know it.

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