Q & A with Ryan Feierabend

One of the best young left-handed pitchers in the Mariners system is Ryan Feierabend, an 18-year-old who has spent all of 2004 at Mid-A Wisconsin. InsidethePark's Kevin Damask tracked him down for this exclusive question and answer session.

InsidethePark.com: Not too long ago you were pitching to high schoolers, and now you're facing major league prospects. What has the past year been like for you?

Ryan Feierabend: The past year has been quite an experience. In high school I was someone who you could call a strikeout pitcher. There are not many kids in Ohio who throw 90 or 91 mph. The big difference this year is I have to pitch to contact and have my defense pitch behind me. That's been the biggest difference, relying more on the defense and less on the strikeout.

ITP: Some hitters like to keep a book on pitchers. Do you keep a book on hitters?

Feierabend: Not right now. I have really gotten into that, because I'm still learning about myself and once I learn what I need to do as far as mechanics, then maybe I'll start paying more attention. We have meetings before the game to discuss the hitters we're going to face. But as far as keeping a book on hitters, I don't do that yet.

ITP: At this stage in your career, how many types of pitches do you have?

Feierabend: I have about four pitches: fastball, changeup, curveball and slider.

ITP: Do you plan on adding any more?

Feierabend: Probably not. Right now I have four. I might take away a pitch and add another pitch later on.

ITP: What would you say is your best pitch or "out" pitch?

Feierabend: Pretty much my best pitch is my fastball. But what I feel the most comfortable throwing is my changeup. Especially, if I'm behind in the count and I need to get an out. When I was growing up and playing traveling ball, my summer coach made us work on throwing pitches when we were behind in the count and the pitch I threw was a changeup.

ITP: What was it like to pitch in the Midwest League All-Star game?

Feierabend: It was quite an experience. I gave up my first all-star home run (laughs). Then I ended up getting the win after all. I played with all lot of great guys in the league. Some of then I met in the course of the season. I had a great time just hanging out with them.

ITP: What are some areas that you feel you need to improve on to make it to the big leagues?

Feierabend: Pretty much I need to mature as a person I think. I mean I'm mature on the field and I know about the game. But, being 18, I just need to learn more about the game and mature more as a person. I'll always be a student of the game, but I would like to be more of a teacher. I think I'm a couple of years away from reaching that point.

ITP: Has you arm been able to adjust to your first long season?

Feierabend: Yeah. In Ohio, there's cold weather and I played about 25 to 30 games and I pitched 50 or 60 innings in high school and then I went on to play travel ball and played 75 innings in the summer right after high school. So, I pitched not quite this many innings, but I pitched in the 120-130 inning range. So my arm's been able to handle this season.

ITP: Now, you're a left handed pitcher. Do you think that gives you more of an advantage as opposed to right handers?

Feierabend: In a way yes, there is an advantage. Because left handed pitchers are kind of a rare commodity. In the majors most pitchers are righties and usually if you have a five man rotation maybe two out of five will be lefties. I guess you have a chance to be more deceptive when you're on the mound because the batter is used to facing a righty.

ITP: What's your relationship like with the other guys on the pitching staff?

Feierabend: Oh, the other guys are great. We get along real good and we joke around all lot. There are a couple guys on the staff that I knew last year at rookie ball. That helps a little bit, especially in catching up. Being young the other guys on the staff have really helped out all lot.

ITP: How do you pitch to a hitter who has had success against you before?

Feierabend: Pretty much just find out the strength and weaknesses of the hitter. We have our strength and weaknesses. We pretty much have to try to react to their strengths and weaknesses and pitch to our strengths and then just go from there.

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