2010 MLB Draft Q&A: Drew Cisco

Yet another 2010 draft prospect with strong MLB bloodlines, Drew Cisco has used a devastating fastball/curve repertoire to climb to the top of South Carolina's 2010 draft crop. We sat down with the talented RHP to discuss what he did this offseason to get better, his arsenal, and what it was like growing up with an MLB pitching coach as his grandfather.

I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2010 has to offer each Sunday and Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.

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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are your height and weight still 6'1", 185 lbs?

Drew Cisco: I'm about 6'1½", 190 lbs right now. I had a trainer that I got with before the preseason started and I took it to him hard to get stronger. I've been doing a lot of running to make sure I'm in the best shape for the season and I feel like I've done a good job doing that.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Were you focused on pitcher-specific workouts, or just a general cross-training?

Drew Cisco: I did things a little bit different than I usually did. We did some of the same stuff, I'd do a bunch of legs for being a pitcher, a bunch of lunges and squats, that type of stuff. The long-distance running was a lot more than I usually do; I always ran, but running was a big key for me to get in shape and toning. We did some medicine ball work and that type of stuff, so I guess he really knows how to do baseball and pitcher-specific workouts, and that's mostly what I did.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What kind of distance running were you doing?

Drew Cisco: We were running about three miles, then we'd also do beach runs, stadium stairs, stuff like that. So it was long distance running mixed in with strength conditioning.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Besides baseball, are there any other sports that you play or used to play?

Drew Cisco: There was a time in middle school, I think that was the last time, maybe 7th or 8th grade, where I'd go to basketball practice, leave a little bit early and go to the football field right next to it, then leave football a little early and go to baseball right after that, so I'd have three practices in one day. I've been playing baseball for a long time, and we have a family history of going to the ballpark, so I've always wanted to play baseball, but I guess I started cutting out the other two when I was in middle school. Since high school I've stuck with baseball the whole way.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When did you know that you were good enough to potentially do something with baseball?

Drew Cisco: When I was younger I had two brothers coming up and playing baseball for the same high school, and they had watched me play and knew that I never wanted to take the uniform off when I was little. So they knew I was going to be pretty good, but I guess when it hit me that I had a shot at something special was my freshman year. I had high expectations for myself, but in my first game, my first start, I threw against our rival team and my velocity on the gun was very high and I was the ace from there on out. I think there was a professional scout there so that's how we knew the velocity, and I'd say that's when I thought I could do something special.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember the first time you hit 90 MPH?

Drew Cisco: Yeah, it was that game as a freshman. I was 88, 89, and popped a couple of 90s in there. That was big for me – my adrenaline was going, it was my first start as a varsity high school player…actually it was in relief of my middle brother, Brian. I actually stole the win from him, but that relief appearance was the first time I hit 90 MPH, I think.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was it that drew you to Georgia?

Drew Cisco: It was a number of things, all-around. I went to a bunch of places and the coaching staff at Georgia was really a great staff. Just talking with them and hearing what they provide you as a player and a student, the academic stuff is great, but as far as what really drew me in, the atmosphere was a big part of it, and what they do with pitchers was the biggest thing. I see that you pitch off your fastball there, and if you go through their past they don't have anybody that really sticks out with a lot of arm trouble. The guys there are hard throwers and maintain their velocity, so I like the way the coaches go about things. All-around I think they are the best fit for me.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What other schools were in consideration?

Drew Cisco: I had a number of schools in the SEC and the ACC, but when it came down to it, it was probably Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Clemson in the final four.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you been thinking about the draft?

Drew Cisco: Well, I think it would be hard to say that you never think about it. Some people go to bed at night thinking about playing in the Major Leagues, and that's my ultimate goal since I was a little kid, and if I work hard enough, whichever path I choose, I can get there. I've just been focused on our great high school team this year, we're undefeated and ranked pretty high nationally now. We have something to do, something that we've never done before, and that's winning a state championship. So I think about it, but my main goal is with our high school team right now, winning ballgames, and trying to get us where we want to be. If we can do that then I think everything will work out for me.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself to dream, what's the image you get in your head?

Drew Cisco: Well, my granddad was the pitching coach for the Phillies, and when I was younger he was with the Blue Jays – there are still pictures of us at the ballpark with him, but I was too young to remember that. When I was old enough to remember though, he was with the Phillies and I had the opportunity to go up to Veterans Stadium with my two older brothers, and we'd get to go on the field, talk to the guys, and we even hit BP one morning. Being around that type of place with big leaguers at such a young age made it the way I picture my dream now. Just going to the ballpark everyday and getting paid to play the game that you love…it just doesn't get any better than that.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So your granddad is Galen Cisco?

Drew Cisco: Yes.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?

Drew Cisco: I've heard from just about all of the Major League clubs in some fashion. It's hard to remember, but I'm pretty sure we've met with just about every club, and if not we got something in the mail from whoever didn't come.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Were the Yankees one of the clubs you met with?

Drew Cisco: Yeah, they sent some stuff and met with us. My granddad actually is friends with Steve Boros [Kevin's Note: Boros is one of the Yankees best area scouts, covering areas of Texas, and also does some advanced scouting for the Major League club], and I think they watched a game in Jupiter one year – they always go out and visit. Also, one of the events in the summer, in Lakeland, one of the guys that was coaching us was a Yankees guy and I threw pretty well down there.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you give me a detailed description of your arsenal?

Drew Cisco: I have a 4-seam fastball which I use early in the count, I pitch everything off of that, and behind it is a changeup, a curveball, and a two-seamer. My fastball is anywhere between 88-92 MPH, and I've been up to 94 MPH before – I'm sure I could be up in that region sometime in the future. My two-seam is around 87-89 MPH. I'm not sure what the velos are for the curveball and the changeup, but I have a good arm-side run on my cheangeup and my curveball is a good breaker – it's about 12-to-6. I can throw my curve in any count, that's what's good about it. I'm actually comfortable with throwing all of my pitches in any count, but with my curve, whenever I want to throw it for a strike I usually don't throw it as hard as I would if I wanted it to be an out-pitch or to change eye-levels. To change eye-levels I'll usually throw it hard and away and then come back with the high fastball. I'd say the curveball is my out-pitch, overall.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You say you pitch off your fastball, but you throw two different ones. Are you primarily a four-seamer or two-seamer guy?

Drew Cisco: I throw a four-seam most of the time. You know, I like throwing the fastball and it probably my favorite pitch; it's fun to watch people getting fooled on the curveball or changeup, but I love throwing the fastball. Any well placed fastball is just as good a pitch as any, but I throw the four-seam most, to answer the question. The two-seam I'll usually throw whenever I want a double-play ball – get it in on the hands and maybe it will run back in and I'll get a groundball out of it. I'll use the two-seam for specific scenarios.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Your brother Mike plays in the Phillies organization. How much has his experience helped you in going through this process?

Drew Cisco: It's helped a lot. Draft-wise he was picked in the 36th round and I got to see some stuff and really learn about it. As he went through the minor leagues I pretty much do everything he does and follow how they work. He didn't know how much throwing everyday helped raise his velocity, and he stressed that to me, and now I've been throwing everyday. Just things like that, their workout regiments, how they get into shape during spring training, etc. He's stressed a lot about keeping the ball down. I learned that with him when he went through college, too, and it seems like every step he goes up he stresses it more. You might make two mistakes in single-A and get away with it, but when you get to double-A it's going to be cut down to one mistake, and you just have to make less and less mistakes as you go up the ladder. I've learned a lot of stuff from him, but that's definitely something that I've really taken from him

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being a Major League pitching coach, did your grandpa work with you at all growing up?

Drew Cisco: Yeah, every time he comes down here he makes sure to go and watch a game. He's actually on the way back from Mike's spring training right now to watch a couple of my games in a spring break tournament. He comes, and we take a trip to the bullpen every time he gets here. He's not big on changing a lot of things – he doesn't like to change me very much – but he'll touch on different types of things that you don't even understand how he can see. It might be a minor little flaw you have in your windup, or in your release, and he stresses keeping the ball down, too. I just try to soak up everything I can get out of him.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What kind of outward personality would someone who came to watch you pitch see?

Drew Cisco: I think they see someone that's got good stuff, and no matter who comes to the plate, he's going to know that he's better than the batter. I'm a competitive pitcher and go out there to win, I think with all the stressing of keeping the ball down I've become really good with my command, I don't waste any pitches, and I come right after you. I think that's something that they see in me on the mound. I try to keep my emotions even-keeled – whenever something big happens I might let something loose – but I'm not the closer-type who lets his emotions out. I'll still get fired up sometimes, though.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What team were you a fan of growing up? Your grandpa was with the Blue Jays when they were winning the World Series, so did that influence you?

Drew Cisco: When I was about 8 or 9 I was a Phillies fan, and I'd get up in the morning and watch ESPN – I wouldn't get on the bus until I saw what they had done the previous night. So I was a Phillies fan, we had gotten to meet them - Scott Rolen, Rico Brogna, and Curt Schilling, so I liked watching them. As I got older, I don't know how, but I somehow got caught on the Braves bandwagon and I was really big on them from, I'd say freshman year through junior year. Now I don't really pay too much attention to a single team, I love watching the Red Sox because they've got a great staff with Lester and Beckett, and I'm usually a fan of whomever has got great pitchers on TV that I can watch and learn from. I just enjoy watching good pitchers, and the Yankees and Red Sox have some good guys.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the pitchers that would cause you to stop and watch them?

Drew Cisco: I like Josh Beckett a lot, I like watching him and how he goes about himself on the mound – I think his mound presence is a lot like mine in terms of competitiveness. Lester is a good one, too, he's a lefty so it's harder to relate to him, but he works hard out there and you can see it in his eyes that he wants to win. One other guy that I'd like to watch, probably more than Lester, would be Tim Lincecum. He's got a little bit different mechanics than me, but it's fun to watch that windup and how he goes about his business on the mound, too.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal any pitch from any other pitcher in your draft class, whose would it be and why?

Drew Cisco: Hmmm…who's got a good cutter? I want a good cutter [laughs]. I'm not sure though, Taillon's got good stuff, and I've played with a bunch of guys at the UA game and throughout those showcases, and I got to know a little bit about AJ Cole, whom I roomed with. Those guys have great stuff, and I think I'm pretty comfortable with my stuff going against anybody, so I wouldn't really trade anything.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you heard any comparisons from scouts?

Drew Cisco: No, I haven't heard what they're saying. I know a bunch of people around here compare me to Mike Leake, the guy drafted from Arizona State last year. Overall though I'm not really sure what they're saying.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How has your season been going so far? I know you said you were undefeated.

Drew Cisco: It's been going really well as a team and I've been throwing the ball really well. We're undefeated, and we've never won a state championship before, we came in second last year, and I think we're as far up as #8 or #6 in one of the national polls. It's been great, we've got a senior heavy team, some juniors, and some young guys mixed in there, so it's going well right now.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How about you individually?

Drew Cisco: I'm doing well. I think statistic-wise I'm 4-0 with a 0.27, or something like that, ERA. I haven't walked many people at all, my strikeouts are up, and my arm's feeling good.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What do you like to do off the field?

Drew Cisco: I like to do a bunch of outdoors stuff, you know we live right on the water here in South Carolina, so I like to go out on the boat fishing or get in the woods and go hunting whenever I can.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I was reading an article from when you committed to Georgia, and in it your father, at the time, was saying that you really had no interest in the draft outside of a life-altering contract being offered. Has that stance softened at all?

Drew Cisco: I think that when that was said, which was my sophomore year, it was to bring focus to the commitment that I just made. As of now I don't think it's a definite that I'm going to school and it's not a definite that I'll sign in the draft if I'm taken. It all depends, you know? I'm 50-50 right now. If something comes up and I get the money that I'd like to go play baseball for a living – something that I've always wanted to do – then so be it. If not, and the draft doesn't work out, then I can go play baseball in the SEC.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So if the contract was right and the situation was right, you would be willing to play professionally out of high school?

Drew Cisco: Yes.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When many seniors are stressing over where, or even if, they're going to school next year, you have two amazing opportunities in front of you. How do you try to balance the pressures that come with those opportunities, with trying to be a normal 18 year old kid?

Drew Cisco: I think that I just focus on what's going on in front of me right now. The people around me that I surround myself with, we treat it as a normal, everyday thing and don't talk about it too much. Pressure-wise, I don't feel any pressure as things have come up because I have the opportunity to do either one of those things, like you said. If the draft doesn't work out then I have the option to go to a really great school, get a degree, and play great baseball in the SEC.

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