RC Interview with Paul Raglione

Paul Raglione was drafted by the Royals in the 18th round of the 2005 draft. The 6-5, 195 lbs. righty this season has been very good for the Arizona Royals. In 44.1 IP, Raglione has a 3.25 ERA and only nine walks, and his 47 strikeouts trail only teammate Brent Fisher's 54 K's for the league lead. RC Correspondent Kevin Agee spoke with Raglione over the weekend to discuss his season.

Royals Corner: Let's talk a little bit about Friday night's game (7/28). You picked up the win in relief of Brian Bass. Was that something that was planned, or did Brian suffer an injury that forced him to leave the game after four innings?

Paul Raglione: Oh, no, he had a pitch count of 65. I didn't think he'd gotten to it, because he only gave up one run and pitched pretty well, but apparently he was close to it and that's why I went in. I didn't really ask. I was just out in the bullpen and they were like, all right, you're going in.

RC: That was your second relief appearance of the year. What kind of a mindset do you as a starting pitcher have to take to succeed in relief?

PR: To tell you the truth, the two times I've [pitched in relief] this year, I haven't felt as comfortable. I feel like when I've started this year, I've "pitched" with the stuff I have, while out of the bullpen, I've been more of a thrower, which is what I think I was last year. I haven't been happy with how I've pitched coming out of the bullpen, not as much what happened, but how I used my pitches and everything. I think I need to work on that so I can be versatile and come out of the bullpen. This year, I haven't felt as good, but the relief appearances weren't terrible. I pitched three innings last time and five this time, but it is a different mindset because with starting, you set the tempo with the hitters and everything, while with the bullpen, you just come into the middle of the game.

RC: Speaking of the way you pitch, could you talk a little bit about the repertoire you use on the mound?

PR: I throw a lot of two-seams which will be slower, and the four-seam I like to throw with two strikes, coming inside or trying to go outside and be perfect. At any point during the game, I'm around 84 to 90 [mph]. My changeup has been my best pitch this year. There've been games I've started where I was throwing just fastballs and changeups, and literally threw two curveballs. My pitching coach was like, okay, we've gotta work the curveball in, so I worked on that with him in a couple of bullpens and the last two times out, it's been better than my changeup. But I've still got my changeup, which I like to throw with two strikes because it's got pretty decent drop on it. [The velocity on the changeup] ranges from 78 to 82 mph, somewhere in there.

RC: Going back in time a little bit, you grew up and pitched in Oregon. That can't be the best climate for a baseball player, right?

PR: High school season, yeah, you're probably going to have a substantial amount of rainouts. Summer league, you get in a good two or two-and-a-half months, but in the winter, it's real hard to practice. You'd just long-toss whenever there wasn't rain. In the offseason, it's hard to do anything.

RC: What was the transition like from high school to professional ball?

PR: It's light years away. In high school, I was a shortstop and I could just kinda throw it hard and throw it over the plate, so occasionally I'd pitch. Senior year, I threw really hard. I was hitting 93 the first game of the year, so then they're like, who's this guy? He's tall and he can throw hard. So when I got [to professional ball], I did the same thing. I just threw hard and saw what happened, saw if the hitters hit it or not, but that's completely the wrong way to go about it. So, I think that's the biggest adjustment from last year to this year, becoming more of a pitcher instead of a thrower.

RC: You've had to make those adjustments because you chose to sign with Kansas City instead of going to play at Washington State University. What made you decide to skip college and sign the contract?

PR: Honestly, the whole process was crazy just because it went from my name not being on any radar screen to a bunch in just a couple of weeks, so I was like, what the heck is going on? I kept telling the scouts different things, whether I wanted to go to school or whether I wanted to go pro. My mom didn't want me to [go pro] but I did. Draft day comes, and I decided that if I was taken in the sixth to eighth rounds, I was going [to sign] for sure. But that passed, so I was going to school at Washington State. And then I wasn't even watching the draft anymore, and [the Royals] called and told me they drafted me in the 18th round. That was sweet, I liked that I got drafted, but I wasn't going to sign. But when they put [the deal] in front of me – which is what I wanted all my life – I literally couldn't say no. It was kinda weird, because I was expecting to say "no."

RC: So it was a spur-of-the-moment decision?

PR: You never know what can happen. If for some reason I never got the chance again, I'd just be so upset with myself. When I'm 45 years old, I'd be like, "Ah dang, I could've at least had the chance." Who knows what would've happened if I'd gone to college, but you can't look back now.

RC: One of the reasons so many teams were interested in you is because you're so tall, listed at 6-foot-5. As such a big pitcher, is it difficult for you to keep your mechanics consistent and to repeat your delivery?

PR: You're always working on your mechanics and your delivery, but I know last year and even in extended [spring training], I'd be all over the place. Mark Davis, the pitching coach down here has been awesome, and now I feel like I'm not throwing nearly as many balls. I don't have very many walks this year.

RC: Have you had a chance to talk with Dayton Moore or any of the new front office guys? If so, have they given you any kind of an idea of where you stand in terms of your progress?

PR: I have not talked to Dayton Moore. The pitching coordinator in spring training told me and my roommates that we were gonna be down here this year, and that if we have good years, we'll start you in Burlington [in 2007]. So I've just been trying to work and have a good year down here.

RC: You are having a good year, so let's talk about one game in particular: the combined no-hitter by Brent Fisher and Michael Hauff that you guys lost 1-0. What was that experience like for you both as a spectator and a teammate?

PR: Yeah, the whole game I was like, this isn't actually going to happen. Seventh inning, this isn't actually going to happen. Eighth inning, ninth inning, up until the last pitch, and then boom, it's over, and you're like, did that really just happen? It was weird, and it didn't fully sink in.

RC: Finally, what about your teammates? Who's the guy in the clubhouse who's liable to say anything at any time?

PR: I think [first baseman Scott] Lucas is the character; I like Lucas a lot. I think our team chemistry is surprising, because last year, I didn't think there was such a thing as team chemistry in pro ball, but this year it's fun because we care about winning and whatnot. Last year, it felt a little different, like we were just coming to play a game, and whatever happened, happened. That makes it a lot more fun and makes time go by a lot quicker in the 115-degree heat.

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Editor's note: Raglione piggybacked with Brian Bass again in Tuesday's game, picking up his second save after tossing four innings and allowing six hits and two earned runs.

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