RC Interview with Mitch Hodge

Mitch Hodge learned of his 4th round selection by the Royals on Thursday afternoon while he was at his school's graduation in British Columbia. Hodge's parents bought him a Royals hat, which he proudly wore as he crossed the stage to receive his diploma. On Thursday evening, RC caught up with Hodge to discuss his repertoire, his experience as a baseball player in Canada, and his extraordinary day.

Royals Corner: First off, Mitch, congratulations. I know you were at graduation today when you learned about being drafted by the Royals. How are you feeling right now?

Mitch Hodge: Thank you very much. It was amazing. Unexpected, just like the draft. It's unpredictable, but it came out to be that my name was called in the fourth round, and that was just amazing. I've been getting phone calls from coaches, family, and friends just congratulating me, and e-mails as well. I'm just in awe right now.

RC: I understand you wore a Royals hat across stage as you got your diploma?

MH:[Laughs] Yeah, I did.

RC: You mentioned that it was unexpected. What was unexpected: that the Royals took you, or that you were selected in the fourth round?

MH: The Royals showed a lot of interest in me. I had a workout camp with them, and that's where it started to blossom. But the round was something that I wasn't really shocked at, but going around I was hearing all these top tens, or "Oh, you'll be going in the fifth round…the sixth round…no, the seventh" the last month. It's a little different coming out in the fourth round where no one was really predicting. But you just kind of have to roll the dice and hope everything comes out all right.

RC: Talk a little bit about what it's like growing up playing baseball in Canada. What types of things did you have to do to get noticed, and where did you play to make sure you got a lot of innings and experience?

MH: In British Columbia, we have the PBL, a highly scouted league. It's got the top 18 kids on the Pacific coast, in British Columbia. That's the league where if you want to go and take it to the next level -- college ball or even the pros -- that's the league you want to be in. High school ball, we don't have here. So the competitiveness has been our summer league teams, and that's 12 months a year where we have fall ball, winter ball, and summer ball. The winter ball is basically training inside. The fall ball is for the new kids coming up and looking at what they need to do and how they need to get prepared to play in the league we're playing in. We go down to the States probably about twice a month and play down there, but basically the season's up here.

RC: Could you talk a little bit about your repertoire? What pitches do you throw, and what speeds do you generally work at?

MH: I've consistently been throwing around 88-90, and able to reach back and get some up to 94. The changeup is probably my second-best pitch. -- it's more of a fosh. And the curveball is there, but it's more of a show pitch right now, and hopefully I'll get some power behind it and get some more bite.

RC: Would you say your curveball needs the most work?

MH: All my secondary pitches do. I feel that my changeup is my second-best pitch, but it wasn't always. My curveball was my second-best pitch, but now it's my changeup. I've been working on it really hard, knowing that that's the hardest pitch in the game to hit, so why not learn that one and master it?

RC: What types of things are you working on with pitches to make them more effective?

MH: Staying on top of the ball, and using my changeup more on the left-handed hitters for the movement, and using my curveball on right-handed hitters. You want the tail and the spin on the ball to get groundballs and pop flies, and you don't want to bring the changeup back into a right-handed wheelhouse. Having guys roll over on it is a pretty good accomplishment, and it's not necessarily a strikeout pitch for many kids, but it has been for me.

RC: Have you talked to the Royals at all about where you will start once you sign?

MH: Surprise, Arizona is the first destination I'll be going to. They have their mini-camp there which I believe is for their new draft choices, and I believe it starts on the 14th.

RC: Beyond that, do you think you'll start in the Arizona League?

MH: I believe so. I'm coming out of Canada as a pitcher and a high school kid, so starting down there would be pretty good.

RC: Has the club gotten into any specifics about some things that they want you to work on?

MH: When I was at the workout, they were showing me different grips on changeups, and certain things. They haven't done too much detailed work with me so far, but you know, it's just the first day. Maybe in a couple of weeks or even a couple of days I'll learn more, I hope.

RC: Well Mitch, thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, especially on such a big day for you. Congratulations again, and good luck.

MH: Thanks a lot.

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