Q&A with Collin Balester

One of the most promising arms in the Nationals' farm system, Collin Balester handled a heavy workload in his first full season with great success. With a power right arm, the 19-year old could figure quite prominently in Washington's future. We caught up with Collin for a Q&A session.

CapitolDugout.com: First of all, Collin, what are your off season plans to prepare for next season?

Collin Ballester: I'm going to the Dominican Republic for 7 weeks. We have instructs down there this year. Also, I need to work on my changeup.

CapitolDugout: Have you been given any indication as to what level you may begin pitching at next season?

Balester: Well, I think they want me to get my changeup to be a pitch where I have confidence in throwing it. And I think I should be in Potomac next year.

CapitolDugout: Could you take us through your repertoire of pitches?

Balester: I have fastball at 91-94 MPH. My changeup is 83-85 MPH. And, my curveball is 74-76 MPH.

CapitolDugout: What style pitcher would you say you are as far as mentality?

Balester: I try and get early outs. I would rather get early outs and have zero strikeouts and pitch into the 9th than strikeout everyone and pitch into the 5th inning.

CapitolDugout: What would you say is your biggest weakness that you'd like to work on over the next couple years?

Balester: I think my one weakness is my changeup. But, once I get that pitch down then I think I will have a better advantage over hitters.

CapitolDugout: Does pitching in the Nationals organization give you a lot of hope that you're going to get an excellent chance to pitch in the big leagues?

Balester: Yes, I think it does. It's definitely encouraging.

CapitolDugout: Since you went pro, how much do you think professional coaches have helped you to refine your game?

Balester: They have helped me a lot with mechanics. They just did a lot of fine tuning that has helped me a lot.

CapitolDugout: What would you say is your biggest strength that has helped you succeed at a young age?

Balester: I think just being in pro ball at a young age helps you mature a lot faster and then you don't worry or put pressure on yourself. And, I just went out and played the way I knew how and that has helped me a lot. I know I will keep getting better.

CapitolDugout: What kind of adjustment period did you see in jumping from rookie ball to full season this year?

Balester: Well, I think before you start, like when your in spring training, people say how hard it is to make that jump. I thought it was easy, but the one hard point was late in the season when I had about 120 innings. I wasn't used to it but next year it will be a lot easier and I will be able to go 150 plus innings.

CapitolDugout: What do you think is the most important thing you have learned so far in professional baseball?

Balester: I think the most important thing is that you need to be ready for every start because it only takes one good start, one person to see you and you can move up. So just always be ready to bring your best stuff every start.

CapitolDugout: How important do you think it was for you to get those innings under your belt? How much do you think experience factors into your future success?

Balester: I think it was very important because now next year they wont have to skip starts with me and I got the experience of a full season. And, now I'm ready to do whatever they want me to do.

CapitolDugout: When looking at the Nationals now, do you ever watch and think about what could be if you were to be a part of that staff and how you could help?

Balester: Well, I went to the game the other night in San Diego and I was right by the bullpen. I was just like "this is the life. I would love to be here." And, I mean it would be a dream come true to be in the big leagues.

CapitolDugout: What do you think the key is going to be for you in order to succeed at higher levels?

Balester: I think the key is to get my walks down and just throw strikes. I believe in my stuff enough to get anyone out. And, the other thing is to get my changeup down, like I said before. Those are real big for me right now.

CapitolDugout: If you had to compare yourself to an MLB pitcher in terms of style, who would it be?

Balester: People say I pitch like Derek Lowe but I don't think I do. (laughing) He's a sinker baller, slider pitcher and I'm not. I loved the Angels growing up. I liked watching Chuck Finley, Troy Percival and a lot of the Angels. I would watch every game.

CapitolDugout: When you are facing the best hitter in each lineup, what type of approach do you take?

Balester: Well, to tell you the truth, I just face everyone the same. One thing that works out for me is that I'm not afraid of any hitter. I just bring my best stuff and if they beat me, then hats off to them. I challenge every hitter the same.

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