FutureBacks Q&A: RHP Ryan Cook

Ryan Cook went 18-13 with a 5.34 in his three years at USC, got selected in the 27th round of the 2008 draft, then went 2-2 with a 4.64 ERA in seven starts at Yakima. In this interview, Cook talks about his improvement this year, his pitching style, his time at Instructs, and his relationships with some of the other people in the organization.

This offseason, Ryan Cook has been working out five days a week and finally began throwing again a few weeks ago.  He said that despite pitching more innings than he was used to last season between USC, Yakima, and the Instructional League, his body didn't really wear down in the fall due to the Diamondbacks' strength and conditioning program and the economical innings that he throws.  Cook narrowly missed making the FutureBacks Fifty, but the fact that he appeared on the Instructional League roster means that the front office is high on him.  If he builds upon his strong showing in his professional debut, Cook will likely appear on the 2010 list.

FutureBacks: It seemed to be a smooth transition for you from college to the pros.  To what do you attribute that?

Ryan Cook: Dan Carlson, who was my pitching coach at Yakima, he was really good.  He took me from where I was at - I had a down year at college, I guess you could say - and he made me realize that I was a better pitcher than I was.  We changed a couple little things and next thing I know, everything was back to normal.  The way he helped me out was tremendous.  He definitely helped the transition from college to the pro game in terms of the mental aspect of the game.

FB: How would you describe the type of pitcher that you are?

RC:  I'm a sinker-slider guy.  I throw fastballs in to right-handers and fastballs away to lefties.  I stick with  my strengths and then make them hit ground balls.  That's my game.

FB: Do you throw a changeup as well?

RC:  Yes, I do.  It's a great pitch for me too, but if you had to ask me what I am, I'm a sinker-slider guy.

FB: So you emphasize ground ball outs more than strikeouts?

RC: Oh yeah.  I try to get guys out in three pitches.  That way I can go deeper in games.

FB: Is there a major leaguer that you model yourself after?

RC: I don't know that I model myself after him, but I think the way I pitch is kind of similar to Brandon Webb. Kind of ironic that we're in the same organization, but he's a sinker slider guy as well.  I try to watch how he does it, and apply it to my own game if it's applicable.

FB: What were some of the things that you worked on during the Instructional League?

RC: In the Instructional League, I worked on being faster to home plate to control the running game a little bit better and consistency with my pitches.  Those were the two biggies that they had me work on.

FB: The Instructional League tends to feature some of the best young prospects in the organization.  Did you find yourself learning from some of the other guys or imparting some knowledge of your own to the other prospects?

RC: Yeah, it was good.  Wes Roemer was there, and he's also a sinker-slider guy.  So I talked to him a little bit and gained a little knowledge from him.  I like to study the game.  I like to learn everything I can from everybody possible.  It was good to get to talk to him because he has the same kind of approach that I have on the mound.  So it was good to hear from him.  I got to meet coach Bird (coach [Mike] Parrott), Gil Heredia; just being around more guys in the organization was really helpful in terms of just getting experience and hearing their stories of what they went through in pro ball.  Some of the things I might encounter and how to deal with them when I do encounter them.

FB: Speaking of other guys in the organization, are you still friends with Cyle Hankerd from freshman year?

RC: Funny you mentioned that: he worked out a few days at Instructs before he went to the Hawaii League in the fall.  Me and Cyle are pretty close, so it was good seeing him again.

FB: So has the organization talked to you about where you are going to be next year?  Are you expecting to begin the year at South Bend?

RC: I really have no idea.  I don't know what they want to do.

FB: Do you have a particular goal for next year?

RC: Well... being that I'm from Clovis, California, Visalia is just down the street, so it would be nice to at some point get to Visalia next year.

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