2011 MLB Draft Q&A: Kevin Comer

With a fastball in the low 90's and the potential for much more, Kevin Comer is the top pitching prospect from New Jersey in the 2011 MLB Draft. We sat down with the righty to discuss his stuff, his commitment to Vanderbilt, and the one pitch he has always wanted to be able to throw.

I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2011 has to offer each 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 you still 6'4", 210 lbs?

Kevin Comer: Yes.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you always been a big kid, or did you suddenly hit a growth spurt?

Kevin Comer: Well, I ‘ve always been tall, but I only weighed about 170-180 lbs up until the beginning of last year. I hadn't really lifted too much until this fall and winter – which is when I started to get into it, and I think that combined with me just starting to fill out a little more is where the weight came from.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you noticed any benefits yet from the workouts?

Kevin Comer: Yeah, so far it's looking pretty good. I'm hopefully throwing a little harder, though it's a little early to tell yet with that, but things are feeling pretty good.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Obviously we know about baseball, but do you play any other sports?

Kevin Comer: Up until last year I had always played basketball, and I actually looked at that as my stronger sport until around freshman year of high school.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What position were you playing? 3 or a 4?

Kevin Comer: Yeah, but I played shooting guard and occasionally point guard in high school.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you dunk?

Kevin Comer: Yeah, it's probably one of the only things I can still do in basketball [laughs]. I lost my jumpshot, I lost my left hand, so getting up is probably the last thing I've got! The summer after 7th grade was when I first actually could do it.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow, you threw down the summer after 7th grade?

Kevin Comer: Yeah, I was 6'0", maybe 6'1" then.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is the nastiest thing you have put down?

Kevin Comer: I don't know – I have a lot of fun with my friends with alley-oops and stuff like that.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it that you realized that you could do something beyond high school with baseball?

Kevin Comer: Probably around the end of 8th grade going into freshman year; that's when things really started picking up for me. I became a pitcher, and then after sophomore year I stopped worrying about playing the field and just focused on pitching and getting better at that.

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

Kevin Comer: The first time I ever really got clocked in a game situation must have been sophomore year, I think. That was when I first saw a gun that actually said I had hit 90 MPH.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On the college side of things, what drew you to Vandy?

Kevin Comer: I had a really good feeling in that town and that area. It was more of a "home-y" feeling than the other school I was looking at, which was UCLA. Going out there just felt so different, but although Nashville was far, it felt a little more like here, because where I live in south Jersey it's kind of rural.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On the flipside, how much have you thought about the draft?

Kevin Comer: I just kind of go with the flow. It's all good fun, and kind of exciting, but I'm not trying to worry about it. In a sense I actually am kind of excited about it, I'm not trying to blow it out of proportion though. I don't want to over think it, but at the same time I want to be prepared.

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

Kevin Comer: So far I've had nearly every team in my house for a meeting, and I've talked to, or had to fill something out for, just about all of them.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: [laughs] A lot of guys talk about all the tests and evaluations some teams put you through.

Kevin Comer: [laughs] The worst is when you get the one that's 180 questions!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are the Yankees one of the teams you have met with?

Kevin Comer: Yeah, I have – Cesar Presbott. He's been in the house and also came out to my first scrimmage last week. They seem like they're interested…I hope so – it doesn't get too much better than that.

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

Kevin Comer: Right now what I'm working with is a four-seam, which I've been told has topped out at 94 MPH. Then I have a two-seam around 90-91 MPH that I've changed up over the summer and have moving more like a sinker now, and that's been helping me out. I actually just developed a changeup over the winter, which is nice to have, and it's really working well for me. It's got a lot of drop on it and comes in around 82-83 MPH. Then I have a spike curveball as my last pitch, and that is normally my out pitch. I can throw it big and looping or hard, but most of the time I'm throwing it as hard as I can [laughs]. I'll throw that anywhere from 76-80 MPH.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you rely on one fastball more than other?

Kevin Comer: It all depends on location and what I'm trying to accomplish. It's been pretty balanced as of late.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The changeup that you worked on, is that like a circle-change?

Kevin Comer: No, it's kind of weird, it's like a two-seam split. It's a wider grip on the seams, but it works for me.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your outward demeanor on the mound?

Kevin Comer: I do tend to laugh and have fun, and I'm mostly happy. I've never had a situation where I got angry and was overly pissed off, throwing stuff around, or kicking things in the dugout. So most of the time I'm calm and collected, but there are times where you'll see me happy and having fun – I try not to show when I'm mad or getting down.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being down in south Jersey, is it safe to assume you are a Phillies fan?

Kevin Comer: Yeah. Growing up I didn't watch too much baseball, and around 7th or 8th grade I started watching it more in-depth and picked up the Phillies because they were close and I was able to go to games.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So going back to what you said earlier about hoops, can I guess that you were a huge Iverson fan?

Kevin Comer: [laughs] I had a few jerseys. Didn't know how much of a punk he was until later, and after that things kind of changed for me.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the pitchers in the Majors that you look up to?

Kevin Comer: As common an answer as it probably is, I lean a lot towards Cliff Lee just for the way he carries himself. A lot of people here were happy to have him back.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could buy the ability to throw any pitcher's stuff for an hour, whose would you pay for?

Kevin Comer: Aroldis Chapman's fastball. I'd love to know that feeling.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: He is ridiculous. I mean, 105 MPH?

Kevin Comer: I know, it has to feel like your arm is falling off with every pitch.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one pitch from anyone else in your draft class, whose would it be, and why?

Kevin Comer: I don't even know the name of the kid, but I remember this one guy who had a knuckleball, and it was uhittable. That's one thing I can never throw – I don't know how to do it, and I don't even know where to start.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I remember being completely demoralized the first time I had someone throw me a legit knuckleball. I had seen them on TV, but in person it made me want to just give up.

Kevin Comer: There's a kid on my high school team who is a solid high school pitcher, but he has a knuckleball that he'll throw to you every time if he has to, and it moves so much. He made me look like an idiot with it! [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who is the toughest hitter you have faced so far?

Kevin Comer: One of the toughest hitters I've faced was Derek Fisher from Pennsylvania. The kid can swing.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How did you fare against him?

Kevin Comer: I think he got a single off me one time, grounded out to second the next time, and I may have struck him out once…but that one he hit off me was pretty hard. [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What are the little things you're working on now to get even better than you already are?

Kevin Comer: I've been doing a lot of work with my pitching coach on shoulder exercises to try and make sure I'm not at risk for injury, and I've been doing a lot of long tosses to strengthen up.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: A Vandy commit has historically been one of the toughest to break outside of Stanford, so is playing professionally out of high school something that interests you if the situation is right, or are hell bent on getting to Nashville?

Kevin Comer: Yeah, I have the commitment to Vanderbilt, but I'm also still willing to look at what comes out of the draft – I'm not trying to have anything hold me back.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On a personal note, what is your ethnic background, if you don't mind me asking?

Kevin Comer: Well, I'm half white, well whatever my dad is – I'm not even sure – and I'm South Korean on the other 50%.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Very cool. I only ask because 1) my sister is South Korean, and 2) prep baseball in the USA has a very strong Caucasian profile and it is always interesting when I come across elite prospects that have minority ethnic backgrounds. Do you keep any Korean tradition in your family?

Kevin Comer: Oh, well yeah, my mother is from there and she lived there for most of her life, but I'd say the strongest connection we have is the food. [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It is good stuff – galbi, bolgogi, chapchae…

Kevin Comer: Oh yeah, I actually just had chapchae last night! [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you get the whole homemade kimchi deal, too?

Kevin Comer: Yeah. I get the whole package – all my aunts live in the area too, so I get all that good stuff!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being from Jersey I have to ask – Favorite diner?

Kevin Comer: I'm going to go with one we have around here called Red Line.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If Kevin Comer is not at the baseball field, he can be found…

Kevin Comer: ...either at my house or a friend's house just hanging out.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How do you try and remain a normal 18 year old high school senior when, quite frankly, you don't have normal opportunities in front of you? How do you deal with that pressure and still stay grounded?

Kevin Comer: I try not to talk about it too much. I don't really open up about it too much – around friends people will ask questions, but I don't really like to make it a topic of conversation. I just like to keep things normal, keep everything in check, and the only thing we've been talking about is March Madness and who is winning our brackets. Basically I try not to bring it up too much, in fact I don't like bringing it up at all unless someone else does. I recognize that it's going to be there, so if I have to talk about it I try not to say anything that would make anyone think that I'm flaunting what I have.

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