Q&A on Philip Humber

Head Coach Wayne Graham of the Rice University baseball team sat down for a Q&A session about Mets' first round draft pick Philip Humber. Find out what Coach has to say is Philip's best trait, what he needs to work on, and who he resembles the most in the Major Leagues. And a whole lot more!

NYF: What type of pitches does Philip throw and at what speeds?  What do you feel is his best "out" pitch and which pitch do you feel needs the most work?  Do you feel you he has "ace" potential?

Coach Graham: Humber consistently throws a fastball that sits in the 90-94 mph range, but has reached as high as 96 mph several times this season. He throws a power curveball that sits in the 75-81 mph range and he uses it as his "out" pitch in college. I'm not sure he'll be able to use his curve as his outpitch at the professional level. He also throws a split-finger that may become his outpitch at the next level. As for "ace" potential, I hate putting labels on anyone like that. The answer is there is no real way to project that. What I can tell you is that when Tim Hudson pitched for Auburn, I didn't think he had pro-type stuff, let alone the "ace" stuff he's been showing the last few years with the A's.

NYF: If you had to predict the future of Philip Humber, what type of a player do you see him as in the pros?  What do you think he needs to work on the most in order to prepare for the Major Leagues?

Coach Graham: I think Humber has the makeup, the work ethic, and the stuff to be a great pitcher for many years. He's the type of pitcher that is going to give you many quality innings and has that rare unquestionable desire to master his craft. If there is one thing he has to work on in order to prepare for the Majors is his pitching inside. He needs to throw his fastball more inside to keep the batters off the plate, learning to use the entire strike zone.

NYF: What is your most memorable Philip Humber moment while he pitched for you at Rice?  What were some of Philip's biggest achievements while he played for you?

Coach Graham: That's an easy one. When he beat Stanford to win us the National Championship last year.

NYF: Well what specifically about that game impressed you the most about Humber?

Coach Graham: I guess it's a combination of the way he bounced back from his poor outing against Texas the previous game and the way he listened to me and my coaching staff on how to attack the Stanford lineup. You see, Humber throws his power curveball as his number two pitch and we told him that to beat Stanford, we had to get them to swing over the bats which meant he would have to showcase his split-finger more. And he did exactly that.

NYF: Who does he most resemble with his game at the Major League level (which MLB pitcher does he compare to and why)?

Coach Graham: I'd have to say Matt Morris of the Cardinals. Because of their similiar release points and their velocities, especially on the curveball.

NYF: What do you think his best quality is as a pitcher? In what way could Philip Humber help a ball club that very few others could?

Coach Graham: He has a few, which is a good thing for the Mets. His consistency. His work ethic. His learning curve. His 3/4 release point. That is the purest delivery for a pitcher. But I guess I'd say his durability though. He's the type of pitcher that will go out repeatedly and give you many solid innings of work, taking pressure off your bullpen. He makes your pitching staff better as a result. He's as durable as they come.

NYF: Is there any one piece of advice you would give Philip as he heads to the Mets organization?

Coach Graham: The only advice wouldn't really be about baseball so much. I'd tell him to avoid the temptations, the self-destructive and counter-productive behaviors that are the pitfalls of many professional ballplayers. Although I suspect that won't be a problem. He's a "good ol boy" from Texas. I am not even sure if he's ever even had a beer.

NYF: What do you think set him apart to make him the type of player he has become?

Coach Graham: His willingness to listen and his desire to master his craft. As I told you about the National Championship game against Stanford...he listened to our coaching staff and made the necessary adjustments. He's the best type of pitcher. One that not only wants to learn, but is willing to listen. Combine that with his strong body, good size, and his durability and there's no wonder he's been a success.

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