Ohlendorf Excited to be a Yankee

One of the centerpieces in the Randy Johnson trade with the Diamondbacks was 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf, coming off a fine season with Double-A Tennessee, is 23-21 with a career 3.76 ERA and was quickly moving up the prospect charts in Arizona. Now a member of the Yankees organization, Ohlendorf says he couldn't be happier.

"I'm very excited," Ohlendorf said of being traded to the Yankees. "I really enjoyed my time in Arizona, but I'm really looking forward to this. You can't really ask for much more than the Yankees, who are such a great organization with such a great history. I'm just looking forward to going to Spring Training."

After reaching the Triple-A level in 2006, albeit for one start, Ohlendorf was scheduled to be heading to big league Spring Training with the Diamondbacks this upcoming season and he believes the same will hold true with the Yankees.

"As far as I know I am," he said. "I haven't gotten anything in the mail yet, but it sounds like I will be."

Ohlendorf is going to Spring Training with an eye towards making the big league team but without a good idea of what he's going up against he realizes heading back to the 'bushes' is still a likely scenario.

"It would be nice to make the Major Leagues this year," admitted the 24-year old. "Hopefully that happens. As long as I know I'm giving my best to get better, that's my main goal. [If not the big leagues] I'm hoping to start in Triple-A. I don't know what the Yankees have planned for me. I'm thinking I'll most likely start in Triple-A."

"I think if I had been with the Diamondbacks that's where I would have been," he continued. "I'm not familiar with the Yankees system. I'm not sure where I'll be with them but with the Diamondbacks, had I not made the Major League team, I would have started in Triple-A."

Ohlendorf is a contact pitcher who induces a ton of ground ball outs, which could still be quite the understatement. In fact, he induced 227 ground ball outs with the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League last year.

"When I'm throwing well I get some sink on my fastball," said Ohlendorf, who says his fastball sits 90-91 MPH. "That's really my strength, my fastball. I'm just trying to locate with it."

"I throw all two-seamers. Some sink more than others. That's something else I'm working on, to get the sink to be more consistent. Very rarely do I throw a four-seamer."

While his plus two-seam fastball has conjured up images of Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb, Ohlendorf admits he has some work to do with his secondary stuff to be as successful as Webb at the big league level.

"I developed a changeup that was pretty good at times last year," said the Houston native. "Then I have a slider that - some games I'll throw it a lot and others I won't throw it as much. My fastball is really my strength and typically I'll have my slider or changeup going for me."

"My consistency with my offpseed is probably the biggest thing I need to work on right now, both with my changeup and my slider. Being able to throw my slider for strikes - I typically throw it as a strikeout pitch - more so than for strikes. I can always make my strengths better too but my biggest weakness is being able to consistently throw my offspeed pitches where I want to with the right action."

While he continues to work on throwing his slider for called strikes and improving the consistency of his changeup, one of the aspects of his game scouts rave about is his makeup on the mound.

"I probably say I have learned to not get down when I have a bad inning or when I give up a home run," he said of his strongest attribute, "to not let that effect the impact in the rest of the game. I don't let my negative emotions take over and let the game fall apart. I think that's something I have gotten better at and it's one of my biggest strengths now. If I have a bad first inning, I don't let that ruin the game."

A real bulldog on the mound, despite the fact his secondary pitches still haven't come around as quickly as he would like, the fact that he pitches to contact and keeps his pitch counts down gives him the unique opportunity to remain a starting pitcher.

He pitched six innings or more in 21 of his 27 starts in Tennessee last year and that should be good news for his bullpen in the future.

"If somebody asked me to move to the bullpen, I don't really have much of a choice," he said when asked of his projected role in the big leagues. "I certainly would be willing to do that. As of now I haven't heard anything that would make me think I wouldn't continue as a starter for the time being."

Throwing as many sinking two-seam fastballs consistently in the low-90's and getting as many ground ball outs as he does, he continues to hear the Webb comparisons and that can only be good news for the Yankees.

"Well when I was with Arizona, Brandon Webb was the main pitcher who they had that came up through the organization and made it as a starter with Arizona. I think they had a tendency, for that reason, to compare some of the minor league pitchers to him and say 'this is how Brandon Webb did it'," said Ohlendorf.

"My roommate who was also traded, Steven Jackson, he and I both do throw a sinker. I don't know how it compares to Brandon Webb's, but we were compared by our pitching coaches to him, in some respects anyway. I'd probably say him even though he's a Cy Young award winner so I don't know if I have any right to compare myself to him."

"I do think we're similar in respect of throwing a sinker," he continued. "He's definitely somebody I'd like to watch and see what he does with his fastball and try to copy him to some extent."

Now a part of the Yankees family, aside from working hard to make the big league team, Ohlendorf has modest goals for the 2007 season, his first in the Yankees organization.

"Just to continue to get better," he listed as is primary goal for 2007, his first season in the Yankees organization. "I have things to work on. It's just amazing how much, if just focus on things you would like to improve on, how much better you can get through the course of a season."

"Compared to high school and college where you make at most ten starts to here you make 30 starts, and working on baseball everyday, it's amazing how good of an opportunity it is to really improve. That's all I'm really looking to do is get better."

DBacks Insider Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n\"I'm very excited,\" Ohlendorf said of being traded to the Yankees. \"I really enjoyed my time in Arizona, but I'm really looking forward to this. You can't really ask for much more than the Yankees, who are such a great organization with such a great history. I'm just looking forward to going to Spring Training.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter reaching the Triple-A level in 2006, albeit for one start, Ohlendorf was scheduled to be heading to big league Spring Training with the Diamondbacks this upcoming season and he believes the same will hold true with the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"As far as I know I am,\" he said. \"I haven't gotten anything in the mail yet, but it sounds like I will be.\"
\r\n
\r\nOhlendorf is going to Spring Training with an eye towards making the big league team but without a good idea of what he's going up against he realizes heading back to the 'bushes' is still a likely scenario.
\r\n
\r\n\"It would be nice to make the Major Leagues this year,\" admitted the 24-year old. \"Hopefully that happens. As long as I know I'm giving my best to get better, that's my main goal. [If not the big leagues] I'm hoping to start in Triple-A. I don't know what the Yankees have planned for me. I'm thinking I'll most likely start in Triple-A.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think if I had been with the Diamondbacks that's where I would have been,\" he continued. \"I'm not familiar with the Yankees system. I'm not sure where I'll be with them but with the Diamondbacks, had I not made the Major League team, I would have started in Triple-A.\"
\r\n
\r\nOhlendorf is a contact pitcher who induces a ton of ground ball outs, which could still be quite the understatement. In fact, he induced 227 ground ball outs with the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League last year.
\r\n
\r\n\"When I'm throwing well I get some sink on my fastball,\" said Ohlendorf, who says his fastball sits 90-91 MPH. \"That's really my strength, my fastball. I'm just trying to locate with it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I throw all two-seamers. Some sink more than others. That's something else I'm working on, to get the sink to be more consistent. Very rarely do I throw a four-seamer.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile his plus two-seam fastball has conjured up images of Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb, Ohlendorf admits he has some work to do with his secondary stuff to be as successful as Webb at the big league level.
\r\n
\r\n\"I developed a changeup that was pretty good at times last year,\" said the Houston native. \"Then I have a slider that - some games I'll throw it a lot and others I won't throw it as much. My fastball is really my strength and typically I'll have my slider or changeup going for me.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"My consistency with my offpseed is probably the biggest thing I need to work on right now, both with my changeup and my slider. Being able to throw my slider for strikes - I typically throw it as a strikeout pitch - more so than for strikes. I can always make my strengths better too but my biggest weakness is being able to consistently throw my offspeed pitches where I want to with the right action.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile he continues to work on throwing his slider for called strikes and improving the consistency of his changeup, one of the aspects of his game scouts rave about is his makeup on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"I probably say I have learned to not get down when I have a bad inning or when I give up a home run,\" he said of his strongest attribute, \"to not let that effect the impact in the rest of the game. I don't let my negative emotions take over and let the game fall apart. I think that's something I have gotten better at and it's one of my biggest strengths now. If I have a bad first inning, I don't let that ruin the game.\"
\r\n
\r\nA real bulldog on the mound, despite the fact his secondary pitches still haven't come around as quickly as he would like, the fact that he pitches to contact and keeps his pitch counts down gives him the unique opportunity to remain a starting pitcher.
\r\n
\r\nHe pitched six innings or more in 21 of his 27 starts in Tennessee last year and that should be good news for his bullpen in the future.
\r\n
\r\n\"If somebody asked me to move to the bullpen, I don't really have much of a choice,\" he said when asked of his projected role in the big leagues. \"I certainly would be willing to do that. As of now I haven't heard anything that would make me think I wouldn't continue as a starter for the time being.\"
\r\n
\r\nThrowing as many sinking two-seam fastballs consistently in the low-90's and getting as many ground ball outs as he does, he continues to hear the Webb comparisons and that can only be good news for the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"Well when I was with Arizona, Brandon Webb was the main pitcher who they had that came up through the organization and made it as a starter with Arizona. I think they had a tendency, for that reason, to compare some of the minor league pitchers to him and say 'this is how Brandon Webb did it',\" said Ohlendorf.
\r\n
\r\n\"My roommate who was also traded, Steven Jackson, he and I both do throw a sinker. I don't know how it compares to Brandon Webb's, but we were compared by our pitching coaches to him, in some respects anyway. I'd probably say him even though he's a Cy Young award winner so I don't know if I have any right to compare myself to him.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I do think we're similar in respect of throwing a sinker,\" he continued. \"He's definitely somebody I'd like to watch and see what he does with his fastball and try to copy him to some extent.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow a part of the Yankees family, aside from working hard to make the big league team, Ohlendorf has modest goals for the 2007 season, his first in the Yankees organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just to continue to get better,\" he listed as is primary goal for 2007, his first season in the Yankees organization. \"I have things to work on. It's just amazing how much, if just focus on things you would like to improve on, how much better you can get through the course of a season.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Compared to high school and college where you make at most ten starts to here you make 30 starts, and working on baseball everyday, it's amazing how good of an opportunity it is to really improve. 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