Q&A with Brian Bannister

The starting pitcher for the North squad in Wednesday's Eastern League All Star Game in Portland, Maine, Bannister was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk the following day. Inside Pitch caught up with Brian at the All-Star game for an exclusive Q&A session.

A resident of Paradise Valley, Az., who attended the University of Southern California, Bannister spent the first half of the 2005 season in Double-A Binghamton, going 9-4 with a 2.56 ERA. He was a seventh round pick in the 2003 draft and he is the son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister. We caught up to Brian before he took the mound at Portland's Hadlock Field.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Developmentally, have you been better off earning an All-Star berth in Double-A, or would you have been better served by spending the entire season in Triple-A?

Brian Bannister: That's hard to answer. I'm going up to Triple-A tomorrow, and for a young guy the two levels can be interchangeable. There's not much difference in tools; it's more experience and discipline. A lot of guys in Triple-A have big league time, while not many in Double-A do. That's the main difference, and the common thread. But I study the game and my craft. I feel I'm ready.

Inside Pitch: What adjustments will you need to make in Triple-A?

Bannister: I'll need to be more consistent. Every level you move up, the faster the hitters make adjustments. They understand better, so as a pitcher you have to do the same.

Inside Pitch: The Baseball America Handbook says you throw five pitches. Tell us a little about your repertoire.

Bannister: I've never had five. I have four, but I'll put different pressure on my cut fastball, so some people think it's another pitch. It started when I was trying to add a slider, but a cutter was a more natural feel for me. Most good pitchers will change the pressure and finger location on pitches at times.

Inside Pitch: If you're going to throw 100 pitches in a game, how many do you want to be strikes?

Bannister: I shoot for between 67 and 72. But those numbers can be deceiving because you can get a lot of swings on pitches out of the zone. A big part of pitching is knowing when to throw balls that aren't strikes.

Inside Pitch: Do you feel that pitching is more math, or more psychology?

Bannister: I'd say it's more psychology. It's understanding how to get outs, when to pitch around hitters, and knowing how to let hitters get themselves out. You'll see a lot of guys who aren't rated very high in the handbooks succeed because they know how to pitch. I hear all the time that I don't have overpowering stuff, but that's not necessarily what it takes to win. And I think you'll find that a lot of reports on players aren't up-to-date anyway. Young players can get reputations based on what someone said about them a few years ago, and they may have changed since then.

Inside Pitch: Your father pitched in the big leagues. Has the best advice he's given you been more on the mechanics of pitching, or the mental aspect of it?

Bannister: More mental than mechanics. He's told me to not get too up, or too down, and to learn from my mistakes. He's also talked to me a lot about staying focused. Pitching-wise, in many ways, we are exact opposites.

Inside Pitch: Has anyone else in your family played pro ball?

Bannister: I have an uncle who played in Triple-A for the Yankees and A's. And my brother, Brett, was just drafted by Seattle in the 19th round. He's also a pitcher.

Inside Pitch: Last question. What can we expect to see in the second half of the major league season, and what would you like to see?

Bannister: There should be some good pennant races, and there are some exciting guys to watch. Seeing if Derrek Lee can win the Triple Crown will be fun. My dad played for the White Sox for five years, so I have a place in my heart for them. It's nice to see them doing well. I think Major League Baseball has a real good feel to it right now.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nA resident of Paradise Valley, Az., who attended the University of Southern California, Bannister spent the first half of the 2005 season in Double-A Binghamton, going 9-4 with a 2.56 ERA. He was a seventh round pick in the 2003 draft and he is the son of former major league pitcher Floyd Bannister. We caught up to Brian before he took the mound at Portland's Hadlock Field.
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Developmentally, have you been better off earning an All-Star berth in Double-A, or would you have been better served by spending the entire season in Triple-A?
\r\n
\r\nBrian Bannister: That's hard to answer. I'm going up to Triple-A tomorrow, and for a young guy the two levels can be interchangeable. There's not much difference in tools; it's more experience and discipline. A lot of guys in Triple-A have big league time, while not many in Double-A do. That's the main difference, and the common thread. But I study the game and my craft. I feel I'm ready.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What adjustments will you need to make in Triple-A?
\r\n
\r\nBannister: I'll need to be more consistent. Every level you move up, the faster the hitters make adjustments. They understand better, so as a pitcher you have to do the same.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: The Baseball America Handbook says you throw five pitches. Tell us a little about your repertoire.
\r\n
\r\nBannister: I've never had five. I have four, but I'll put different pressure on my cut fastball, so some people think it's another pitch. It started when I was trying to add a slider, but a cutter was a more natural feel for me. Most good pitchers will change the pressure and finger location on pitches at times.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: If you're going to throw 100 pitches in a game, how many do you want to be strikes?
\r\n
\r\nBannister: I shoot for between 67 and 72. But those numbers can be deceiving because you can get a lot of swings on pitches out of the zone. A big part of pitching is knowing when to throw balls that aren't strikes.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you feel that pitching is more math, or more psychology?
\r\n
\r\nBannister: I'd say it's more psychology. It's understanding how to get outs, when to pitch around hitters, and knowing how to let hitters get themselves out. You'll see a lot of guys who aren't rated very high in the handbooks succeed because they know how to pitch. I hear all the time that I don't have overpowering stuff, but that's not necessarily what it takes to win. And I think you'll find that a lot of reports on players aren't up-to-date anyway. Young players can get reputations based on what someone said about them a few years ago, and they may have changed since then.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Your father pitched in the big leagues. Has the best advice he's given you been more on the mechanics of pitching, or the mental aspect of it?
\r\n
\r\nBannister: More mental than mechanics. He's told me to not get too up, or too down, and to learn from my mistakes. He's also talked to me a lot about staying focused. Pitching-wise, in many ways, we are exact opposites.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Has anyone else in your family played pro ball?
\r\n
\r\nBannister: I have an uncle who played in Triple-A for the Yankees and A's. And my brother, Brett, was just drafted by Seattle in the 19th round. He's also a pitcher.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Last question. What can we expect to see in the second half of the major league season, and what would you like to see?
\r\n
\r\nBannister: There should be some good pennant races, and there are some exciting guys to watch. Seeing if Derrek Lee can win the Triple Crown will be fun. My dad played for the White Sox for five years, so I have a place in my heart for them. It's nice to see them doing well. I think Major League Baseball has a real good feel to it right now.
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