RC Interview with Daniel Cortes

Since being acquired by the Royals in the Mike MacDougal trade, Daniel Cortes has filled out physically and added several ticks to his fastball. After an outstanding 2007 campaign with Wilmington, Cortes found himself listed among the best pitching prospects in baseball. On Monday afternoon, Cortes spoke with RC about his progress, his 2007 season, and his goals for this year.

Royals Corner: How do you feel about your outing today?

Daniel Cortes: It just felt like I was kind of falling off the mound today. I kept the balls up, which is not a good thing. The first two innings, it was like that, but the last two innings it felt like I was keeping the ball down, was being consistent with my fastball, keeping it low, and getting ground balls and getting the hitters out.

RC: I noticed you didn't throw many changeups today.

DC: Yeah, I was just trying to look for command of my fastball, mostly. Just getting ahead of hitters and then coming back with the curveball.

On Monday, Cortes allowed two runs in four innings while striking out three and issuing three walks

RC: How do you feel about your spring so far?

DC: Right now it feels like I'm going through some dead arm. It doesn't feel like the ball is coming out of my hand very well. But hopefully when the season starts I'll get the feeling for my fastball again, and hopefully I'll be more consistent and start throwing more strikes, and keep the walks down.

RC: What did you do in the offseason to get ready for this season?

DC: I did a lot of conditioning and weight training. I think I gained about 15 pounds during the offseason, just of lean mass. Right now I think I'm in the best shape I've ever been, so hopefully that will help me out during the season and keep me healthy.

RC: What are you working on the most right now, pitch-wise.

DC: Basically my fastball command. Right now I'm trying to the feel for my change too, although I didn't really throw it today. Hopefully things will turn out well during the season and everything will fall into place and I get the feel for everything.

Cortes ranks as the #3 Royals prospect in RC's Top 50

RC: Last year, you were excellent down the stretch. Did something just click for you?

DC: Yeah, it kind of did click. When I first got to Wilmington, my mentality was just to blow away guys with my fastball. But then I figured out that that's not always going to help you out. So I started mixing my pitches, and all of a sudden I started getting more ground balls and started striking out more people. I was just fooling the hitters, and I started winning ballgames and lowering my ERA, so I was pretty happy with that.

RC: Because of your season at Wilmington, you soared in national prospect rankings and got a lot of attention in the offseason. Do you feel any added pressure this year?

DC: Not really. I always have the same mentality – just go out there, get hitters out, and try to help my team win ballgames. I'm always going to carry that on. There's no pressure at all, rankings or not. I just go out there and do what I have to do.

Cortes could feasibly make his Major League debut sometime this season

RC: What are your goals for this season?

DC: Hopefully to win ballgames and get the stats that the minor league coordinators and pitching coaches want. Hopefully, there's a chance they'll give me a spot in Kansas City. I'll be happy with that, so I'm trying to go for that. I'm trying to be in Kansas City and help the team win ballgames there.

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