Q&A with Yankees 2nd Round Pick Jeff Degano

We sat down with Yankees' 2nd round pick, Jeff Degano, for a Draft Day Q&A session. Find out what the left-handed pitcher from Indiana State University says about his game, how he feels being drafted by the Yankees, what he'll bring to the Yankees organization, and much more.

[Photo by Jeff Tuttle, courtesy of Indiana State University athletics]

PinstripesPlus.com: How does it feel to be drafted by the Yankees?

Jeff Degano: It’s a dream come true, that’s for sure. Growing up, when I was 9, I used to play for the Yankees [in little league], and so when you grow up, that’s basically the team you love is the one you play for. So it’s definitely a dream come true.

PinstripesPlus.com: Where were you when you found out you were drafted?

Degano: I was at home, and when they said the Yankees were on the clock, I got a phone call, my heart sank and they called me and told me they wanted to draft me. We kind of went through our negotiations and everything and we came to a conclusion and they ended up calling my name. Going through so much adversity in my career in college, the one thing I wanted to do was work my way back and be prepared to be a professional baseball player and follow my dream, and getting that call made everything that I went through worthwhile.

PinstripesPlus.com: You had the Tommy John surgery, so how has that affected you?

Degano: When I first heard that my UCL was torn, it was one of those things that you kind of feel bad and all I knew was, no matter what, I was going to work as hard as I could to get back. That really changed my whole mindset on not just baseball, but fitness in general. I knew I had to really put my shoes on and pull up my socks and really figure out what I needed to do to truly advance to the next level. Being away from the game for a year just fuels that fire to come back to where you’re at. So I think that was the biggest impact, to have baseball taken away from me, and it really opens your eyes.

PinstripesPlus.com: How do you think your experience at college will translate to professional baseball?

Degano: I think the competition at college now has gotten a lot better. I think that we played some good teams, we played Vanderbilt, we played Baptist, and they obviously have some high picks in those organizations. So being able to pitch against that kind of talent, if you can succeed there, I think that going to the next level is something you should be able to do fairly well.

PinstripesPlus.com: What does your arsenal of pitches look like and how do you like to use them?

Degano: I really like locating my fastball — just going in on guys, which is one thing a lot of college pitchers struggle with. I think my fastball was sitting at 90-92, and I think I got up to about 94-95. But, coming back [from injury] I really wanted to work on locating the fastball and being able to throw my secondary pitches for strikes where I want. [My secondary pitch is] kind of a slurve, and I varied the way I threw it within counts. If I needed to throw it in the dirt for a strikeout pitch or lower in the zone, I’d give it a little more of a loop on it and turn it into more of a curveball. If I needed it for more of a power, harder slider, I was able to change it up a little bit and throw it like that. It really just varied on what type of swing the guy was taking on it and everything.

PinstripesPlus.com: What do you hope to accomplish in your first year of professional ball?

Degano: I really just want to improve my changeup a little bit — just to get a little more comfortable with it. I threw it in college, and it was just a pitch that I didn’t really need very often. The more improvements I put on it, the better I think I can be as a well rounded starter, which is what I think I’m going to be.

PinstripesPlus.com: The Yankees haven’t had much in the way of homegrown left-handed starting pitchers since Andy Pettitte. Have you had the chance to watch him pitch at all?

Degano: Growing up, he was one of the pitchers I idolized. He was the guy that I always looked up to. I wanted to mimic the way I threw just like him.

PinstripesPlus.com: How much better are you now compared to before the injury?

Degano: Skill-wise, I think I’m pretty close, but just mentally, how much different my approach was to the game, and we got a new pitching coach and he taught me a lot about different strategies you want to use against certain hitters. I think that really changed my level of play — just how I approached the batters.

PinstripesPlus.com: What was it like being part of Indiana State’s team?

Degano: It was great. I thought we had a very good defense — our shortstop, second baseman, basically everyone around the field allowed me to throw strikes for them to hit and let my defense make plays behind me. That was something that really helped me out mentally on the mound.

PinstripesPlus.com: Did you talk to the Yankees before the draft at all or was it a surprise pick?

Degano: We talked a little bit, but I wasn’t quite sure who would be taking me, so that was more of the surprise of when I would be taken. We did have communication before the draft.

PinstripesPlus.com: Do you have any idea what the Yankees’ organization and farm system looks like?

Degano: I’ve been researching a little bit about the farm and all I want to do is whatever they need me for and try to exceed at that.

PinstripesPlus.com: What was the best moment in your college career?

Degano: My favorite moment was that first time getting back on the mound after my surgery. It was a struggle with all the nerves and everything, but that moment afterwards with everyone coming up all excited and everything, I’d say that’s the best moment I’ve had.

PinstripesPlus.com: Are you looking to sign quickly and get started as soon as possible? How are negotiations going?

Degano: The negotiations are going well, and I just want to get started. I’m supposed to be going down to Florida [Thursday] morning, so we’re going to be ironing out all of the details and everything like that. Then hopefully I’ll be getting started.

PinstripesPlus.com: Are you concerned about the pressure of New York?

Degano: I think all I really can do is control what I can control and not really worry too much. It seems like the Yankees have a great fan base and a lot of history there, so I’m hoping they’ll be supportive.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories