2010 MLB Draft Q&A: Evan Grills

Succeeding more on command and intelligence than power and velocity, Ontario's Evan Grills is one of the more polished HS lefthanders in this year's draft. We sat down with the tall lefty to discuss his approach to pitching, his visit to the Yankee minor league complex, and randomly running into his favorite Major League player in an airport.

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 you still 6'4", 183 lbs?

Evan Grills: No, I'm 6'5", 205 lbs now.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow, did you gain all of that weight over the winter?

Evan Grills: No, last year I was around 200 lbs, but I was never at a Perfect Game showcase, so I guess they didn't update it. I'd been working out and my legs got a lot bigger, and I also put on some weight through my back, but I'm still pretty lean – I've got a lot of room to fill out.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being from Canada I can only assume you play hockey, no? Do you play any other sports in general?

Evan Grills: I played hockey as a kid, but I don't play it anymore – I'm just sticking to baseball. The last time I played hockey was when I was 12, so it's been just baseball ever since then. I played basketball a bit, but not seriously.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it that you knew you were pretty good at baseball and could do something with it?

Evan Grills: When I was 13 I went down to Texas to play for a travel team called the Dallas Yankees and lived down there for the summer, so that was pretty much when I started to think that I could probably go somewhere. I started to believe in myself a lot more.

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

Evan Grills: The first time I hit 90 MPH was probably last year before I got injured. I'm not too sure though; I can't remember because I'm not a big velocity guy – I just pitch.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was your injury?

Evan Grills: It was just some biceps tendinitis. I'm feeling stronger than ever now though.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is it like being from Canada and having all of the big events in showcases so far away from you?

Evan Grills: I like to travel, so it's fun. Being from Canada what's tough is to get the training that everyone else has. Even though we do have a pretty nice facility, you obviously don't get to be outside like people from Texas, right? I guess it just means that we have to take a different approach to things.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So what do you do to bridge that gap?

Evan Grills: Well, everyday I make sure I get with my trainer who's working with me down here in Florida, and we work hard getting in consistent throwing and bullpens. I've just got to keep up and make sure I'm working harder than the next guy, because that's how you get better.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are you committed to San Jac, or someplace else?

Evan Grills: Yes, I'm comitted to San Jac and Florida Gulf Coast.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How does that work with having two commitments?

Evan Grills: Florida Gulf Coast is a four-year, and San Jac is a two-year JuCo, so it gives me some options.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much has the draft been on your mind?

Evan Grills: I find that the more I think about it the more excited I get, and the more excited I get the better I play, so I'm always thinking about it every single day, - every time I work out I'm thinking about it. At the same time, I understand that the draft is probably the smallest part of my career if everything goes right, but right now it seems like the biggest part so I'm focusing hard on just doing well. I can't control everything, so I've just got to work hard.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do dream about being a professional, what is the image you get in your mind?

Evan Grills: Just playing baseball every day, putting on a uni every day, it's just the greatest thing possible. I was just working out at the Yankees spring training place, and to do that every day would be a dream come true, so just to be able to play baseball every day for a living would be a dream.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How did that opportunity come about for you?

Evan Grills: My area scout called up and asked if I wanted to work out there in the minor league facility for a few days. So I went there, got to throw in front of them, got to wear the uni, so it was a pretty cool experience.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Did you meet any minor league guys down there?

Evan Grills: Everyone is so classy down there, they'll introduce themselves if they don't know you, so I met so many people in those two days that I can't even remember anyone [laughs].

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was it like being in the Yankees facilities in general? The locker room, fields, seeing the signage, etc?

Evan Grills: I think that was the coolest thing I've done so far in my life, because I'm a Yankees fan, so to get that opportunity was great.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So how many teams have you heard from in total?

Evan Grills: I've gotten letters from most teams, and had a few in-houses, maybe seven or eight.

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

Evan Grills: I mostly throw a two-seam fastball that's sitting right now around 86-89 MPH. I sometimes touch some 90s, but it's usually in the 86, 87-89 MPH vicinity. It has a lot of armside sink on it, and I locate it and work on getting ahead – that's what I pride myself on. My second best pitch is my changeup, it's usually there for me every day when I need it. I'm not sure about it's velocity, but it changes speed from my fastball pretty well. Then I have a curveball that's usually on, and I keep it low – it's pretty good to left-handed hitters and I like to keep it in the dirt to righties. It comes in around 77-79 MPH.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So it sounds like you are that prototypical lefty, pitching fastball/change, and mixing in a breaking pitch every now and then?

Evan Grills: Yeah, Cole Hamels and Andy Pettitte are two of my favorite pitchers.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Does your four-seamer have any natural sink, or just your two-seamer? Do you know what you've topped out at?

Evan Grills: Well, I'm throwing my two-seamer the most, but if I throw my four-seamer it does have some natural sink. I think I've topped 91 MPH, but I don't really pay that much attention, I'm more about command and competing. If you command, compete, and play the game the way it's supposed to be played, then you're going to do well.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You've said you thrive off being jacked up, so what is your mindset/personality on the mound?

Evan Grills: My body language is that I'm very calm, everyone says that I have good mound presence, but on the inside I know I'm pretty jacked up and don't think anyone is ever going to get a hit off me. I go out there every day thinking I'm going to throw a perfect game, I don't think anyone on the field is better than me, so I compete hard and think that I'm the best player when I'm out there.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you ever get fired up after a big strikeout?

Evan Grills: Yeah, I'll throw a fist pump out there sometimes just like any other guy[laughs], but usually I try to stay calm on the outside.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How did you being a Yankee fan come about?

Evan Grills: My dad was always a Yankees fan – you'll never see him without a Yankees hat on, so that's where I get it. It's hard not to be a Yankees fan when you look at their lineup though, right? [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So he's got to be flying high that you got to go down to the complex and work out with them, huh?

Evan Grills: Yeah [laughs]. He was going to try and come down, but he wasn't able to so he's missing out. But it's alright – I've got pictures!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So you've mentioned Hamels and Pettitte as guys you look up to. Are there any others, or are they the only big ones?

Evan Grills: Andy Pettitte is mostly the guy I look up to. He's kind of the same makeup as me because in the playoffs he's always there for you and that's kind of the guy I am – big game and I'm always there and ready to go for you. He's a pretty consistent pitcher, he's got a lot of pride, he's got a good mound presence, and he just pitches every day, so that's what I like about him. It's funny because when I was going down to visit San Jac I was in Newark airport and he walked right by me, so I got to meet him and everything which was pretty cool.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow, talk about a coincidence – you're on the east coast on your way to visit San Jac, and you randomly run into one of its most famous alumni!

Evan Grills: Yeah, right? We couldn't believe it. I just saw this huge guy – he was pretty big – and when he turned around noticed it was Andy Pettitte. He was on an earlier Houston flight so we didn't get to chat that long, but I told him I was going down to San Jac and he thought that was cool.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal any pitch from any other pitcher in your draft class, whose pitch would you steal, and why?

Evan Grills: I'm not too sure…I don't think I'd steal anyone's pitch, I'd just keep my own. It's a hard question because I don't really pay attention to any of the other guys.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who was the toughest hitter you have faced?

Evan Grills: I pitched in the World Juniors two years ago with Team Canada, I've been playing with them since I was 14, and I faced a couple of Cuban guys when we were down in Orlando, but like I said, I don't think any of them are any good when I'm pitching, so I can't really think of "good hitters" that I've been playing. Actually, now that I think about it, there was a guy at Troy State a few years ago and he took me deep to center, like I've never seen a homerun so big in my life. It must have been 600 feet maybe, I don't know, but he was a big left-handed hitter and I left a pitch up and out over the plate, and he just took it to center like I've never seen. [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you gotten any comparisons from scouts?

Evan Grills: I had a scout at Jupiter last year compare me to Cole Hamels, and back in the day I got compared to Andrew Miller, but I don't think that holds up anymore.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What's the biggest thing you want to focus on for you as an individual going into this season?

Evan Grills: First pitch strikes, commanding the zone, attacking the zone, and mostly just pitching every day, being consistent, and staying healthy.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What do you like to do off the field?

Evan Grills: Mostly I hang out with friends and family, maybe go watch a few games. I get down to the Rogers Centre four or five times a year, and there are never big crowds now so it's pretty easy to get seats.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On a scale of 1-10, how high did you jump when Crosby scored?

Evan Grills: [No hesitation] Ten! Ten! That was the best! We can't let you guys beat us at hockey – we've got to have our hockey [laughs].

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So you're 18 now?

Evan Grills: 17, actually. I turn 18 June 13th.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow, so you'll still be 17 during the draft, that's really young. How do you deal with all this attention and pressure?

Evan Grills: I obviously respect everything that's happened, and respect the abilities that have been given to me by working hard every day. I just try and stay humble, I don't like to brag about it or anything, I talk baseball but not about myself. I just try to stay humble and act properly, because if you do that good things are going to happen – try make sure nothing goes wrong, I don't need any bad karma!

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