Q&A with Jeremy King

PinstripesPlus.com sits down with Tampa right-handed pitcher Jeremy King for a Q&A session to talk about his 2005 season, if he has a preference starting or relieving, what it means to be in the Yankees' organization, if he feels he is underrated, which Yankees' prospects have impressed him the most, and much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: Jeremy, talk about your season this past year. How do you think you did?

Jeremy King: I wasn't expecting to be down in Tampa this year, but I didn't look down at being in Tampa. I think as far as developing, it was one of my strongest years. I pitched in AAA, AA, and single-A, so I definitely made my rounds. I think I opened some eyes and I'm happy with the year I had. Coming out of Spring Training, I wanted to start in AA at Trenton. But a series of injuries made it so that the Yankees needed me in Tampa. Those things happen though. I was still happy to be there.

PinstripesPlus: Tell us about your repertoire. What kind of pitches do you throw, at what speeds, etc?

King: I throw a fastball around 88-93 MPH. I started off my career throwing a lot more 4-seam fastballs, but 3/4 of the year this past season, I went to throwing a lot more 2-seamers. I'm started to gain more confidence pitching inside to batters. I throw a curveball around 72-78 MPH. "Pav" [Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik] helped me a lot with my curveball this year. It is a big curveball and it is a pitch I like to throw early in the count to disrupt the timing of the hitters. It is a good pitch for me and it is my out pitch to lefties. I have a slider that I fine tuned a lot this past year. I throw is predominantly more than my curveball. It is around 80-83 MPH and it is a good out pitch. My slider is hard and short and it is a pitch that I can throw for strikes. I have a changeup that's okay, but it needs work. I felt a lot more comfortable throwing my changeup this year though. It dives into the right-handed batters. As a starter, it is easy to incorporate more of my pitches.

PinstripesPlus: You've shown good success as both a starter and a reliever. Do you have a preference to doing either one?

King: I'm just happy as long as I get an opportunity to play. The way I look at it, I'm blessed to go out and pitch. Just about anyone would trade places with us. But to answer your question, I've had good runs as a starter and others as a reliever. Whatever gets me to the big leagues, that's what I'll do. They [the Yankees] know what I need to do to get to the Major Leagues. This is what I've always wanted to do [play pro ball]. They have given me opportunities and they have helped develop me. You just have to trust the people that are developing you and giving you the opportunities.

PinstripesPlus: What has it been like being a part of the Yankees' organization these years?

King: It has been challenging, that's for sure. They have got good pitching at every level. There is a lot of competition. It is also intimidating, you know? You're always wondering if there is ever going to be a chance considering who they have on their Major Leauge staff. But people get hurt so you have to sit back and work hard everyday. I grew up a Yankee fan and I just love being with the Yankees. I just love the mentality Steinbrenner has. He wants the best for his team and his fans. It has been fun and I wouldn't want be with someone else.

But I think this past season proved it is very reachable [playing in Yankee Stadium]. Seeing the young guys like Wang and Cano was good for baseball. It just proves all you need is a shot. They gave Aaron Small a chance and he wound up doing something no other Yankee has ever done. We [Yankees' prospects] were tickled by Henn's call-up. I figure if I can get one month, at the right time, and dominate while I'm in AA, it can happen. If you just show poise and determination, you could be there. What I love about the Yankees though is that they mold you into a Yankee baseball player, so by the time you're in the bigs, that is all you know. I want to make it the Majors and I want it to be with the Yankees. Sure they have a lot of rules about your uniform and no facial hair, but it looks better for all of us. It makes you understand that we are role models for kids.

PinstripesPlus: Your name isn't always mentioned with the top prospects in the organization. Do you feel that you're underrated?

King: No, I don't think I'm underrated. You just do the best that you can do out there. Some guys just fly under the radar and I think I'm kind of one of those guys. I never really had one of those years with the unreal stats or anything that I would have liked to have had. But I think my pace is good. I'm just working hard so when I do get there [the Major Leagues], it is going to be for good. I don't want any holes in my game and when I get there, I'm going to be there to stay.

PinstripesPlus: What do you think it takes for a guy, who might not be considered a top prospect, to get to the Major League level?

King: I think for all the guys down here, no matter where they were drafted or what they signed for, it just depends on how bad they want it [to get to the Majors] and how hard they work at it. It is not about money. It is a life decision. I'm doing everything in my power to get there and nobody is having anything handed to them.

PinstripesPlus: You're a free agent after next season. Do you have any particular goals heading into the 2006 season?

King: I want to end up in AAA next year. I said this year that I wanted to have a solid year in AA, so I'm thinking I'll probably be in AA to start the season next year. I just want to do well enough to give them a reason to re-sign me next year. I would like to drop down the walks a bit too. I'll have stints where I'll walk too many guys and then other stints where I'll walk just a couple over a few games. I want to develop everything though. I want to work on the mental aspects of pitching. There are changes everyday and sometimes it is tough on your mind so I'd like to improve that area. Of course my ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues.

PinstripesPlus: Who in your opinion is the one positional prospect [hitter] that you think has the highest upside?

King: It would definitely have to be Eric Duncan. He is an extremely hard worker and really young. Some think he had a bad season, but I think it was a solid year because of the way he battled back. For a guy at his age, staying up there the whole year was a great season. He is very intense. He's a guy that if he strikes out, you just want to let him be. He just knows how to play the game hard, the perfect guy to play for Masse [Trenton manager Bille Masse]. Offensively he has the biggest upside. Just give that kid a challenge and he'll succeed.

PinstripesPlus: Switching to your position, which one Yankees' pitching prospect do you believe has the highest upside?

King: In my opinion, it is Matt DeSalvo. That kid has great, great stuff. His fastball and curveball are both great. He has a forkball that is just nasty. He never gets to throw it too because the catchers can't catch it, it is that nasty. Seriously! Ask any of them about his forkball and they'll tell you. And with his mental approach to the game, you're just not going to get into his head. Once he learns to fine tune his control, nothing is going to stop him. The things he needs to work on are not my opinion - they are his opinion.

PinstripesPlus: Okay, who in your opinion do you think is a "sleeper" prospect? Who do you think doesn't get the attention he deserves but will shock people with a good Major League career?

King: Well I'd put DeSalvo in that group. When I tell you he's the top guy, I mean he's got ace potential. I don't think too many people realize how good he is. I think he could be a #1 guy in the big leagues. But aside from him, I'd say Ramiro Pena. Pena is unreal. He routinely makes plays you don't see very often. If he can hit .260 in the Major Leagues, he's going to be a special player. He has plus, plus range. If I'm pitching and I fall behind, I'll even slow down on my fastball to try and get the hitter to roll over on the ball and hit to Pena because there's no doubt in my mind he is going to get to it.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Jeremy, talk about your season this past year. How do you think you did?
\r\n
\r\nJeremy King: I wasn't expecting to be down in Tampa this year, but I didn't look down at being in Tampa. I think as far as developing, it was one of my strongest years. I pitched in AAA, AA, and single-A, so I definitely made my rounds. I think I opened some eyes and I'm happy with the year I had. Coming out of Spring Training, I wanted to start in AA at Trenton. But a series of injuries made it so that the Yankees needed me in Tampa. Those things happen though. I was still happy to be there.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Tell us about your repertoire. What kind of pitches do you throw, at what speeds, etc?
\r\n
\r\nKing: I throw a fastball around 88-93 MPH. I started off my career throwing a lot more 4-seam fastballs, but 3/4 of the year this past season, I went to throwing a lot more 2-seamers. I'm started to gain more confidence pitching inside to batters. I throw a curveball around 72-78 MPH. \"Pav\" [Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik] helped me a lot with my curveball this year. It is a big curveball and it is a pitch I like to throw early in the count to disrupt the timing of the hitters. It is a good pitch for me and it is my out pitch to lefties. I have a slider that I fine tuned a lot this past year. I throw is predominantly more than my curveball. It is around 80-83 MPH and it is a good out pitch. My slider is hard and short and it is a pitch that I can throw for strikes. I have a changeup that's okay, but it needs work. I felt a lot more comfortable throwing my changeup this year though. It dives into the right-handed batters. As a starter, it is easy to incorporate more of my pitches.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: You've shown good success as both a starter and a reliever. Do you have a preference to doing either one?
\r\n
\r\nKing: I'm just happy as long as I get an opportunity to play. The way I look at it, I'm blessed to go out and pitch. Just about anyone would trade places with us. But to answer your question, I've had good runs as a starter and others as a reliever. Whatever gets me to the big leagues, that's what I'll do. They [the Yankees] know what I need to do to get to the Major Leagues. This is what I've always wanted to do [play pro ball]. They have given me opportunities and they have helped develop me. You just have to trust the people that are developing you and giving you the opportunities.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What has it been like being a part of the Yankees' organization these years?
\r\n
\r\nKing: It has been challenging, that's for sure. They have got good pitching at every level. There is a lot of competition. It is also intimidating, you know? You're always wondering if there is ever going to be a chance considering who they have on their Major Leauge staff. But people get hurt so you have to sit back and work hard everyday. I grew up a Yankee fan and I just love being with the Yankees. I just love the mentality Steinbrenner has. He wants the best for his team and his fans. It has been fun and I wouldn't want be with someone else.
\r\n
\r\nBut I think this past season proved it is very reachable [playing in Yankee Stadium]. Seeing the young guys like Wang and Cano was good for baseball. It just proves all you need is a shot. They gave Aaron Small a chance and he wound up doing something no other Yankee has ever done. We [Yankees' prospects] were tickled by Henn's call-up. I figure if I can get one month, at the right time, and dominate while I'm in AA, it can happen. If you just show poise and determination, you could be there. What I love about the Yankees though is that they mold you into a Yankee baseball player, so by the time you're in the bigs, that is all you know. I want to make it the Majors and I want it to be with the Yankees. Sure they have a lot of rules about your uniform and no facial hair, but it looks better for all of us. It makes you understand that we are role models for kids.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Your name isn't always mentioned with the top prospects in the organization. Do you feel that you're underrated?
\r\n
\r\nKing: No, I don't think I'm underrated. You just do the best that you can do out there. Some guys just fly under the radar and I think I'm kind of one of those guys. I never really had one of those years with the unreal stats or anything that I would have liked to have had. But I think my pace is good. I'm just working hard so when I do get there [the Major Leagues], it is going to be for good. I don't want any holes in my game and when I get there, I'm going to be there to stay.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What do you think it takes for a guy, who might not be considered a top prospect, to get to the Major League level?
\r\n
\r\nKing: I think for all the guys down here, no matter where they were drafted or what they signed for, it just depends on how bad they want it [to get to the Majors] and how hard they work at it. It is not about money. It is a life decision. I'm doing everything in my power to get there and nobody is having anything handed to them.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: You're a free agent after next season. Do you have any particular goals heading into the 2006 season?
\r\n
\r\nKing: I want to end up in AAA next year. I said this year that I wanted to have a solid year in AA, so I'm thinking I'll probably be in AA to start the season next year. I just want to do well enough to give them a reason to re-sign me next year. I would like to drop down the walks a bit too. I'll have stints where I'll walk too many guys and then other stints where I'll walk just a couple over a few games. I want to develop everything though. I want to work on the mental aspects of pitching. There are changes everyday and sometimes it is tough on your mind so I'd like to improve that area. Of course my ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Who in your opinion is the one positional prospect [hitter] that you think has the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nKing: It would definitely have to be Eric Duncan. He is an extremely hard worker and really young. Some think he had a bad season, but I think it was a solid year because of the way he battled back. For a guy at his age, staying up there the whole year was a great season. He is very intense. He's a guy that if he strikes out, you just want to let him be. He just knows how to play the game hard, the perfect guy to play for Masse [Trenton manager Bille Masse]. Offensively he has the biggest upside. Just give that kid a challenge and he'll succeed.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Switching to your position, which one Yankees' pitching prospect do you believe has the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nKing: In my opinion, it is Matt DeSalvo. That kid has great, great stuff. His fastball and curveball are both great. He has a forkball that is just nasty. He never gets to throw it too because the catchers can't catch it, it is that nasty. Seriously! Ask any of them about his forkball and they'll tell you. And with his mental approach to the game, you're just not going to get into his head. Once he learns to fine tune his control, nothing is going to stop him. The things he needs to work on are not my opinion - they are his opinion.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Okay, who in your opinion do you think is a \"sleeper\" prospect? Who do you think doesn't get the attention he deserves but will shock people with a good Major League career?
\r\n
\r\nKing: Well I'd put DeSalvo in that group. When I tell you he's the top guy, I mean he's got ace potential. I don't think too many people realize how good he is. I think he could be a #1 guy in the big leagues. But aside from him, I'd say Ramiro Pena. Pena is unreal. He routinely makes plays you don't see very often. If he can hit .260 in the Major Leagues, he's going to be a special player. He has plus, plus range. If I'm pitching and I fall behind, I'll even slow down on my fastball to try and get the hitter to roll over on the ball and hit to Pena because there's no doubt in my mind he is going to get to it.
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