One-on-One with Bobby Livingston

With a 33-18 record in three minor league seasons, LHP Bobby Livingston only recently turned 22 and is one of the top pitchers in the Mariners' farm system. InsidethePark caught up with the team's 4th round pick from 2001 recently for an offseason update.

Most young pitchers would embrace the opportunity to rest after the long grind of a minor league baseball season. For Bobby Livingston, the work is just beginning.

"I'm working down at my friend's dad's ranch down here in Weatherford, Texas, an hour west of Dallas," said the 22-year-old Texan southpaw, needing to speak up with cows mooing in the background. "It's a lot different. It's hard work but it's stuff I love doing."

Oh, to be a Texan; to enjoy working with cattle in November. It's the type of thing not many people can relate to.

Livingston's role as a guy merely helping out is a sharp contrast from the one he had when pitching at High-A Inland Empire this past season. As a member of the 66ers, he was a leader of the pitching staff, a guy the team depended on every fifth day when he took the mound. Time and time again, he proved he was up to the task.

Livingston, the Mariners' fourth-round pick out of Lubbock, Texas in 2001, started the 2004 season on absolute fire, winning his first five decisions and carrying an ERA that hovered right around 1.00.

The hot start put his name on the map, got him a front page cover story on, and turned plenty of heads across the California League.

By June, however, the rest of the league had grown more accustomed to Livingston's pitching repertoire, and the outs became a little tougher for the deceptive left-hander.

"The Cal League is a tough league to pitch in," said Livingston. "I started off great and I hit a couple bumps. When you play teams that you play a bunch of times, guys get used to seeing you. I just had to make adjustments.

"I overcame the obstacles I needed to overcome, and I think I proved myself to the organization that I can get guys out. Hopefully the success carries over into next year."

Livingston finished the season 12-6 with a 3.57 ERA. Maybe more impressive, though, was his ability to stay around the plate while fooling batters at the same time, as his 141-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio indicates.

One of the knocks on the Livingston during his summer lull in San Bernardino was that he relied a bit too heavily on his best pitch, the changeup, and as a result didn't use the fastball enough. He says he'd like to become a more aggressive pitcher in 2005 when he moves up to Double-A San Antonio.

"I think I need to attack hitters more next year and to throw my fastball more," said Livingston, who just turned 22 on Sept. 3. "I'm going to work on that during spring training and carry that onto the 2005 season." Livingston plans on staying in Texas for the next two months or so, then heading west to Arizona, where he'll stay with a friend (who doesn't own cattle), to be in tip-top condition by the start of spring training.

"I'm going to go back early this year, mid January or the start of February and I want to get a head start," he said. "I'm a competitor and I love to compete."

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