D-backs Draft Q&A: 21st-Rounder Bryan Woodall

Bryan Woodall's amateur career took off when he switched from the rotation to being a closer. His pro career took off when he got selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 21st round. Woodall spoke with us about his pitching style, how tough the SEC is, and a D-backs pitcher he models himself after.

Bryan Woodall combined to go 3-7 with a 5.07 ERA in his first two years of college, splitting time between starting and relieving.  As a closer this year, Woodall led Auburn with 11 saves, which ranks fourth all-time in their single-season record book.  He also finished second on the team with a 3.83 ERA and posted a 7.0 K/BB ratio (42 K, 6 BB).

The full interview transcript appears below. You can also

FutureBacks: Were you expecting to be picked by the Diamondbacks or were there some other teams that you thought were more interested?

Bryan Woodall: I'd actually heard that the Diamondbacks were the most interested in me. When I saw my name come up on the screen, I was really excited.  When I saw an organization like Arizona draft me, it was a big day for me.    

FB: So there won't be much temptation to return for a senior year at Auburn?

BW: No, I think I'm pretty excited about leaving.  You know, we're getting a new head coach at Auburn.  I'll see what all happens, but I'm just excited to have a chance to play Major League Baseball.

FB: Tell me a little bit about the type of pitcher that you are.

BW: I work off a two-seam fastball.  I guess it's more like a sinker.  Then I have a slider.  I was a closer this year at Auburn.  As a starter my sophomore year, I had three or four pitches: I worked with a curve and a change, too.  This year as a closer, I really worked on my two-seam and my slider, so I was able to pitch off both of those.  

FB: Do you prefer closing to staring?

Bryan Woodall
(Photo: Auburn University/Todd Van Emst)

BW:  I don't really care.  Whatever's going to help out the organization.

FB:  Does it take a different mentality to be a closer, or a different preparation to be a starter?

BW: Yeah, I think it's definitely a different mentality.  As a starter, you have to be able to work off all your pitches. You have to be able to maintain your body to go five, six, seven-plus innings.  As a closer, you want to have your best stuff for one inning.  So just the mentality and the thought process is much different than as a starter.  

FB: Do you think that coming from a great system like Auburn really prepares you for the pros?

BW:  I think it does, because I've played in the SEC for three years.  I think the SEC has some of the most tough competition in the country in college baseball. You see some of the guys that are drafted: there's a lot of big-name guys, so that's a lot of big bats that you face throughout the year.  I think being able to pitch in the SEC for three years is a big accomplishment in itself.

FB: Being a sinkerball pitcher, is Brandon Webb one of the major league pitchers that you model yourself after?

BW:  Yeah, you know, I throw a two-seam, a sinker, just like he does.  And actually, my coach my freshman year actually pointed that out to me.  He was like, "you know, you should try to model yourself after a guy like Brandon Webb."  With all the success that he's had through the years, he's just a great role model to have.

FB: What is the thing you have taken most from your college experience?

BW: I think going to college was a big step for me.  Coming out of high school, I guess I was more of a thrower than I was a pitcher, and I kind of turned myself into a pitcher when I got to school.  Going to school for three years and being able to live on my own: it teaches you a lot about yourself.  If you can play baseball against aluminum bats for three years against the type of pitchers they have in the SEC, you should be able to have success down the road.  It was a big step for me, and I take a lot form it.   

FB: So is the velocity on your two-seam fastball then down from what you had in high school because you were trying to get more movement on it?

BW: No, actually, I kind of changed my arm slot.  When I was in high school, I threw straight over the top, andI moved to a three-quarters slot when I came to school.  And [the velocity] was down towards the beginning, but working with it for a few years, I've got it back up to just about where I want it to, and my arm continues to grow and get stronger.  So hopefully, that keeps increasing.

FB:  A lot of the other sinkerballers I've talked to say that their pitch actually gets better as their arm gets tired.  Do you find that to be the case?

BW:  I think if your arm gets tired, you're still able to change speeds with it.  You still have the depth and you still have the movement. I found myself, this year, not trying to overthrow everything.  I still throw a good four-seam, but now I change speeds with my sinker (my two-seam) and just kept guys off-balance. It kinda worked like a changeup, at times.  So I say I only have two pitches, but I can work with multiple pitches by how I throw them and change speeds. 

Send questions or comments for Keith Glab to future_backs@yahoo.com

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