Left-handed pitcher Ryan Falcon helped to solidify a solid Spokane Indians bullpen in his professional debut this past summer. A 29th round pick, Falcon played collegiately at UNC-Greensboro. The southpaw played five seasons due to Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery in 2005. Falcon amassed a 3.62 ERA in 323 innings during his career with the Spartans.
The 23-year-old was assigned to short-season Spokane shortly after reaching an agreement with the Rangers. Falcon went on to be one of the team's most important relievers, as he went 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 26 appearances. Arguably the most impressive facet of Falcon's 2007 campaign was his strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Greensboro, N.C., native struck out 62 while issuing only six free passes in 47 innings pitched.
Lone Star Dugout was recently able to catch up with the left-handed pitcher for a question-and-answer session.
Jason Cole: You had great numbers with the Spokane Indians. What were your thoughts on your season there?
Ryan Falcon: I'm pretty happy with how I did. We kind of struggled down the stretch as a team, so that was a little disappointing. But I just felt I stayed pretty healthy throughout the summer and I was pitching pretty awesome. That, to go along with the way things went, I was pretty happy. It was everything I thought it would be.
Cole: You were selected in the 29th round of the draft this year. Is that about where you expected to go?
Falcon: Yeah. I knew it would be late. Once you get to those rounds, it doesn't really matter. Being a fifth-year senior in college I knew if I got taken at all it would be pretty late.
Cole: Your strikeout rate was quite a bit higher in professional ball than it was in college this past year. Did you feel there was a reason for that?
Falcon: I don't know if it was more because when I was in college and starting, I was throwing eight or nine innings almost every time. In Spokane I would throw maybe three innings at the most. Most of the time it was a little less than that. I don't know if it was just the fact that for an inning or two you can kind of throw all your pitches and you only look at the lineup one time and you aren't as concerned about your pitch count.
Cole: Can you talk about what pitches you throw and the speeds you usually work at?
Falcon: My fastball is – I wouldn't say it's my best pitch, but with the way the Rangers teach you to pitch, it kind of goes along with how I pitched in college where everything is off your fastball no matter whether it's hard or not. I don't really know exactly my fastball range, but I would say it's probably between 83-87 most of the time. I'd say my changeup is probably my best pitch, especially to right-handers. I also throw a slider and a curveball. Like I said, those are the pitches I use. I don't know the speed on all of my pitches. Not as hard as a lot of guys.
Cole: Which pitch would you say could use the most work right now?
Falcon: I really don't know. All of them need a lot of work. But I would say my curveball might be the least developed. I think I need to make it a little bit harder. Right now it's more of a slow, big break.
Cole: After being a starter in college, you worked out of the bullpen in your professional debut this year. Have the Rangers told you whether or not you will stay in the bullpen for next season?
Falcon: They haven't said anything to me about that, but I would assume that I would probably be in the bullpen. Especially since they got so many really good arms in the draft and through trades this year. I really don't know though, but I would expect I'll probably be relieving still.
Cole: Did you make any adjustments with the coaching staff while you were in Spokane?
Falcon: Most of it, they just let me pitch. They told me to go out there and do what I've been doing so they could see what I've got. One of the things we talked about was just a little bit of my leg kick, speeding that up some. But no changes were made. I think if that does happen that would probably be in spring training.
Cole: You had Tommy John surgery in 2005. Do you feel there are any lingering effects right now?
Falcon: I guess health-wise it doesn't bother me at all. It feels a lot better than it did before surgery. I got the recovery time that I need and stuff like that. My velocity hasn't all come back yet. I was throwing a little bit harder than I am now before the surgery. But hopefully that will come back. I feel good as far as the health part of it.
Cole: Do you feel the surgery changed you as a pitcher?
Falcon: I don't know if it changed me a whole lot as a pitcher because I've always been someone who tried to keep hitters off balance, locate, and more than just overpowering people. But I would say maybe after that I started throwing more changeups, mixing it up a little bit more. But I don't think it changed me a whole lot.
Cole: After throwing 104 innings at UNC Greensboro and then 47 with Spokane, was your arm tired by the end of the season?
Falcon: I don't know if it was tired. I felt good and I wanted to keep pitching, keep playing. But definitely the time that I've taken off since the Spokane season is good for my arm. I'll definitely enjoy it when I get started back up here shortly.
Cole: What are you currently doing to get ready for the 2008 season?
Falcon: I work out every day, Monday through Friday. I usually work out four or five days per week. It's kind of lifting, running, and stuff like that. The throwing will start back up at the very beginning of December.
Cole: Do you have any idea as to what the Rangers' plans are for you next year?
Falcon: No, I have no idea. I guess I just have to go and have a good spring training and then see what happens from there. But they haven't told me anything about where I might be going next year.
Location a key for Falcon
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