Q&A with Tampa Pitching Coach Greg Pavlik

Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik sat down with PinstripesPlus.com to discuss the Yankees' pitching prospects that pitched for him this past season and gives his thoughts on their potential. Find out who Pavlik, affectionately known as "Pav", was most impressed with at the minicamp this year!

PinstripesPlus: Which of the Tampa pitchers were you most surprised with this past season?

Pavlik: Definitely Steven White. He has a big upside to him with three plus pitches. Has has a Major League fastball with good movement, along with a good curveball and a really good changeup that has yet to be tapped. He struggled a little bit when he first came down to Tampa and then just took off to be one of our most consistent starters down the stretch.

PinstripesPlus: How do you see him projecting? As a #1, #2, what?

Pavlik: Well we don't really get caught up in who projects as what. After an ace of the staff, there's really no difference between a #2 and a number #4 starter at the Major League level. Steven's going to be a Major League pitcher and he falls somewhere behind the ace of the staff and a #5. You'd obviously rather not be the #5 pitcher because you won't pitch as regularly as the first four guys in the rotation. He's going to be a solid pitcher for many years.

PinstripesPlus: Where do you think White will start next season?

Pavlik: I am pretty sure he'll start the year off in AA-Trenton.

PinstripesPlus: Give us your thoughts on Jeff Karstens.

Pavlik: Jeff's another good one. He has an average Major League fastball, sitting between 88-92 MPH, with really good movement. He really has good command of all four of his pitches. He has an above average slider and changeup, and a good curveball. I'd like to see Jeff get bigger and stronger. I can see Jeff making the Trenton rotation next year as well.

PinstripesPlus: What were your impressions of Eric Abreu?

Pavlik: Dave Eiland (pitching coach for Staten Island) called me up during the season to tell about this kid that was throwing balls by hitters. He was raving about Abreu and told me he was throwing 92-93 MPH, touching 94 MPN on the gun at times. He didn't throw as hard for me down in Tampa but that could have been because he wasn't used to throwing as many innings and the heat down in Tampa takes its toll on you on the mound. He was throwing about 87-88 MPH for me, but he's got great location of his pitches. He has a really good curveball and changeup. He changes speeds a lot and just knows how to pitch.

PinstripesPlus: Steven White told us that Edwardo Sierra has some of the best stuff he's ever seen. What are your impressions of Sierra?

Pavlik: Sierra has a big time fastball. He throws 94-95 MPH all the time and even touched 98 MPH at certain points. He has a good splitter and showed an excellent slider the second half of the season. When he was with Oakland, they had him forget the slider as I guess they thought he didn't need it as a closer. He can throw his slider at any time and it really sails away from right-handed batters.

PinstripesPlus: Was there anybody else on the Tampa staff that stands out in your mind?

Pavlik: Ben Julianel has really good upside to him. He has an average Major League fastball and a good slider. What makes him so good is his great changeup. He'll pitch in the Bigs for sure.

PinstripesPlus: You were there at the minicamp this past fall. What one pitcher stood out from all the rest in your mind?

Pavlik: Definitely (Phil) Hughes. He has awesome stuff and he has the chance to be a very, special pitcher for us.

PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank Greg Pavlik for taking the time to answer our questions.

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