2010 MLB Draft Q&A: Drew Vettleson

Possessing both elite hitting skills as well as the ability to switch pitch, Drew Vettleson is the rare draft prospect that garners national attention for both flash and substance. We sat down with the ultra-talented senior from Central Kitsap HS to discuss the draft, his abilities at the plate, and an unexpected phone call he received from a current Yankee farmhand.

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", 175 lbs?

Drew Vettleson: I'm actually 6'1", 185 lbs now. I'm trying to increase my weight and get ready for what could happen in June. Trying to be a more physical player.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you play any other sports besides baseball?

Drew Vettleson: I also play basketball and we actually have our playoffs starting soon. I've always played basketball, it's a fun sport, and I like to play multiple sports because it keeps you in shape and makes sure you're not just working the same muscles. It helps you to be more athletic when you're playing other sports. In Washington it rains a lot, so when you can't get outside you have to play other sports like basketball.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Lets just cut right to the chase, and I know you're probably sick of the questions, but tell me about the switch-pitching.

Drew Vettleson: My mom is left-handed and my dad is right-handed, and they're always playing slow-pitch, so when I was younger I'd pick up the glove of whichever one I was with and start throwing with that arm. It kind of stuck, which ended up being pretty cool because I'm one of the only ones around that was able to do it. Then I heard about Pat Venditte, and he actually gave me a call a couple of months ago, and we talked about it, so that was pretty cool.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What are you naturally?

Drew Vettleson: I'm a natural lefty, but I've evolved into a right-hander. Defensively I play right-handed.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You throw harder from the right side now though, correct?

Drew Vettleson: Yeah, it was kind of weird, my right hand just all of a sudden started taking over, which was kind of nice because if I had stayed a lefty I would have never known that I could throw even better right-handed.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are you more comfortable from one side?

Drew Vettleson: Yeah, I feel more comfortable right-handed.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Was the call from Venditte out of the blue?

Drew Vettleson: It was cool because it was just out of the blue. He just gave me a call because he had heard of me through some websites and we just talked for a while about how I started. He said to keep it going because it's a rare thing, and to use it to my advantage because baseball is all about getting people out and if you can gain an extra advantage by throwing with either arm, then you should take it to the fullest. It was pretty cool.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Oregon State has a great recent tradition. What is it specifically that drew you to them?

Drew Vettleson: The atmosphere was great. I went to a game and it was awesome to see how the fans were so into it. The program has been on the rise, especially with the two national championships, and I wanted to go to a place where I would have a chance to go to Omaha and experience all of that great baseball. It helped that the coaches were great guys and very nice people.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What other schools were you considering?

Drew Vettleson: I was considering WSU and Oregon.

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

Drew Vettleson: Oh man, it's something that's very exciting and I'm definitely considering it. I like getting all the mail and talking with all the scouts – it's just a lot of fun.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What's your dream when you think about playing professionally?

Drew Vettleson: I picture being on TV and being successful and having a great career; something that people can talk about.

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

Drew Vettleson: I've talked to every single team.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How would you describe yourself as a hitter?

Drew Vettleson: I would say that I'm consistent as a hitter. It all starts with the mental approach, where if I strike out or do something bad I don't press as much because I believe that you just have to tough it out and go on. Baseball is just a bunch of failures, so if you keep a level head and believe in yourself it makes it easier to play and hit.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How about a technical analysis of your swing?

Drew Vettleson: I have a straight up and down stance, and my hands are a little lower than everybody else, just above the waist and straight back – I try to keep them as far back as I can. I feel I get more lift with my hands like that, and I like to attack the ball.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do you hit in the lineup?

Drew Vettleson: Third.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is hitting with wood like for you?

Drew Vettleson: In the batting cages I always use wood because if you don't hit it right it's not going to come off the bat good. Making sure I can use wood all the time and get that solid contact will just help me in high school with the metal, where you can hit it off the end of the bat and still get a single. So I always use wood as much as possible. It is definitely a challenge using wood – going to Area Codes and being as consistent as I was made me happy. I faced a lot of top pitchers in the nation, and we were hitting with wood.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What's your personality out on the field?

Drew Vettleson: I think I'm calm, but I'll always have a smile on my face. When things are going wrong the only way to turn things around is by having a good time. I'm the one on the field whose always happy and has a smile on his face.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What can you tell me about your defense?

Drew Vettleson: In high school I'll play a little infield, but outfield is definitely my place. I love all the diving catches and throwing guys out at home. Defense is something I take pride in, and you have to have it to win, but my favorite thing is hitting.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: As a pitcher tell me about your arsenal on the mound from the right side.

Drew Vettleson: I throw a fastball, knuckle curve, and a circle changeup. My fastball from the right side is 90-93 MPH, curve in the low 80s, and change in the high 70s. When I was younger my dad didn't want me to throw a regular curve until my arm was more developed so I learned the knuckle curve, and it just kept working so I've used it ever since. I try to get the change to dive away from lefties and into righties, and when I can turn it over and concentrate on keeping my arm out in front I can get that nice fade. If I let it go too early it goes straight up and in to right-handed batters.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How about the left side?

Drew Vettleson: From the left side I throw the exact same pitches. Sometimes I drop down more than three-quarters against left-handed batters, but my fastball is about 83-85 MPH, and the change and knuckle curve are both 70-72 MPH.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you switch in the middle of games to face different batters?

Drew Vettleson: I have, but mostly I'm a right-handed pitcher and then to save my right hand I'll go one or two innings lefty, and then come back right-handed later in the game. I've gone a couple of games where I'll switch to match the batter, but mostly I just use pitching lefty to save my right arm and keep the pitch count down.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you use a specially made glove like Venditte?

Drew Vettleson: No, I haven't been able to find one of those yet!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Speaking of the pros, is it safe to assume you're an M's fan?

Drew Vettleson: Yeah, definitely.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the players that you look up to in terms of their skills or the way they play?

Drew Vettleson: My all-time favorite player has been Ken Griffey, Jr., since I was about six years old. I wear the number 24 because of him. He plays the game so hard, I mean you've seen those plays when he's diving into walls and going all out, so it's cool to see all those highlight plays he can make and then what he can do with the bat. The things he can do – it's just great.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who do you most often here scouts comparing your game to?

Drew Vettleson: I've heard my swing compared to Hank Blalock and guys like JD Drew. I got a few Jacoby Ellsbury comparisons because of the OSU thing and I guess the way we play.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is speed a big part of your game?

Drew Vettleson: It's not the biggest part, but I have decent speed.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one skill from any other player in your draft class, whose would it be?

Drew Vettleson: I'd definitely steal Josh Sale's power. He lives close to me, we've always played with each other, and he has some BIG power.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How about stealing one pitch from another player?

Drew Vettleson: Last year at the Mariner Cup I faced AJ Vanegas, and his curveball is probably one of the dirtiest curveballs I've ever faced.

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

Drew Vettleson: First time up I struck out, but second time I got a single. It was off his fastball – I was trying to lay off that curveball! [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What have you worked hardest on this winter?

Drew Vettleson: Trying to increase my strength, and staying in the cages to keep my swing going. The biggest thing this high school season is to stay consistent in front of all the scouts.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What are the most important things for you as a team, and then as an individual this year?

Drew Vettleson: As a team we're going to be a young squad this year, so it's going to be big for me to be a leader, bring all these young guys up, and show them how the program works. It'll be nice if we can pull together and win a lot of games. Individually I want to stay consistent, lead by example, and do everything I can to help out team win.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you retained an advisor at this point?

Drew Vettleson: No, we're waiting until around draft time.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, what's this whole process like for you?

Drew Vettleson: Well it's definitely very exciting. I have kids all the time saying "oh man, it's so cool that you're going to go pro," or "it's so cool you're going to play ball at college on the best team in the nation," so I definitely have a microscope on me, people waiting for me to do something wrong. But I just try and take this opportunity to lead, have other kids follow me in doing the right things. It's definitely a good thing to have - for people to see me having all these good things going for me by doing the right things might make them want to do things differently.

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