2010 MLB Draft Q&A: Mike Foltynewicz

As one of the fastest rising names in the 2010 draft pool, Mike Foltynewicz has used his blazing fastball to catch the eye of area scouts in Minooka, Illinois. We sat down with the righty to discuss his love of golf, the upcoming draft, and what he likes to do off the field.

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: To start things off, are you still 6'4", 190 lbs?

Mike Foltynewicz: I'm actually 6'4" and touching 200 lbs now. Over the winter I lift pretty hard and I work on my legs a lot, so through dedicating myself to working out I have managed to put on some pounds.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: As someone in the same boat, I'm sure you've been asked a million times in your life, but can you give me the the correct pronunciation of your last name?

Mike Foltynewicz: Sure, switch the "y" with an "a" and the "w" with a "v." Folta-NEHVICH.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are there any other sports that you play, or have played growing up?

Mike Foltynewicz: Yeah, I'm a big golfer, me and my dad play a lot over the summer and I've played ever since I was four or five years old. I played for my school freshman and sophomore year, and the other sport I played was basketball, which I played up until my junior year. I didn't play this year because I was focused on working out over the winter and getting bigger.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What position did you play on the court?

Mike Foltynewicz: I was actually all over the place – I played a little point guard here and there, and also the three, four, and five spots.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your handicap on the course?

Mike Foltynewicz: I'm not really sure about my handicap, but on a good day I'll usually shoot a 77-80, and on a bad day maybe an 85 or so. I'm decent. Some sports are made for those times when nothing is going on, so I can take it easy and just go out and play some golf – it's fun.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So when was it that you realized you were pretty good at baseball?

Mike Foltynewicz: Well, in Little League I could always throw the ball by people and get a lot of strikeouts every game, and they moved me up a little bit, but I'd say it was my sophomore summer going into my junior year that it hit me. I went to the Area Code showcase and I think that's where I hit 90 MPH for the first time. I didn't really notice, but MLB scouts came up to me after and asked for my information and that's when I noticed that I was going to go somewhere with baseball.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it clear to you that pitching was your meal-ticket?

Mike Foltynewicz: Freshman year I came up and everyone was telling me that I would probably just be a pitcher because I'd be getting looked at by colleges and the pros. I do like to hit and help out the team that way, but I've known for a while that I was going to be a pitcher down the road.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Speaking of schools, what drew you to Texas?

Mike Foltynewicz: Growing up I loved Texas, and then in '05 I went down and watched them in the College World Series when they won it, but I grew up liking Texas sports so that was my dream school.

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

Mike Foltynewicz: I was considering Louisville, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Arkansas. They were probably my top four in addition to Texas.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft? I talk to some guys and they say they try hard as hell not to think about it, and others say it's the last thing on their mind every night before they go to bed. Where do you stand in that spectrum?

Mike Foltynewicz: You know, I think about it here and there, but I don't really think about it a bunch right now. Maybe when the beginning of June comes I'll be nervous, but right now I just try to go out and do my thing on the mound without letting it get to me. So it's not really a big deal with me right now, but I'm sure it'll hit me down the road.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself those moments to dream about being a professional baseball player, whether it's out of HS or out of Texas, what is the image you get in your mind?

Mike Foltynewicz: Playing professional baseball has been my dream, and if I came out of high school it'd be a pretty good start for me because baseball is going to be my job for the rest of my life whenever I get there. It doesn't really matter if I come out now or later, but coming out now would probably give me a pretty big head start on the job. The picture I get is of me up on the mound starting a game, night-time, under the lights at Yankee Stadium or something. I'm giving it my best and the crowd is screaming and everything…it's going to be a joy.

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

Mike Foltynewicz: Everyone has talked to me so far.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was the contact with the Yankees like?

Mike Foltynewicz: They sent me a questionnaire and I guess have been to a couple of my games, but I haven't had the in-house visit with them yet.

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

Mike Foltynewicz: I throw a two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, curve, slider, and changeup. Early in the inning or game, I'll get my four-seam 93-95 MPH, touching a 96 or 97 every once in a while. I'd say I sit with my four-seam 90-93 MPH, and my two-seam 89-91 MPH. Usually I'll throw my two-seam to lefty batters, throwing it at them and trying to break It on the inside corner. My curveball is more of a 12-to-6 break and my slider is that hard break to the left. I throw the curve at probably 71-74 MPH and the slider up to the 78-80 MPH range. Throwing my slider after my fastball gets a lot of batters because the two pitches look alike. My changeup is a circle-change, comes in around 85 MPH, and has that hard bite down and to the right. I had a splitter at one point but I put that to the side – it may help me down the road at some point, but not right now.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being from Illinois, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being from a cold-weather state?

Mike Foltynewicz: One of the advantages of pitching in Illinois is that I haven't had as much mileage on my arm. Those kids from California, Texas, and Florida have that advantage of going year ‘round, but I don't have the same wear and tear that they do. I'd say the disadvantages are those 30 degree games that you play in with the wind blowing 20 MPH, those just are not fun, but you just have to bear down and go through it.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Every year there are only a handful of top prospects out of Illinois, so how much pride do you take in being from the Land of Lincoln?

Mike Foltynewicz: It's pretty cool. Like you said, not many players from Illinois get the chance to go high in the draft because a lot of people don't look as much in the Midwest with it being colder. I take a lot of pride in that, and it is an honor to represent my state.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your mindset and personality on the mound? What would someone watching you pitch in the stands see in terms of your outward expressions?

Mike Foltynewicz: I can be happy in the pre-game and everything, getting everyone pumped up, but when I get on the mound I'm probably the most focused person you'll ever meet. Even if a batter foul tips a pitch I get mad about it, so I'm really competitive and determined out there, and I'm going right at the hitters. I'm not going to let up on the 8th or 9th hitter, I'm just going to go at everyone with all I've got. As far as my emotions, if someone makes an error or a guy hits a double off me, that's just baseball and that's going to happen so I don't really let it affect me that much. When the next hitter comes up I know in my mind that I'm going to get him – I'm going to strike him out or get a ground ball, but I know I'm going to get him out. Those things don't really bother me so I don't really show it at all.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being from Illinois, is it safe to assume you were either a Cubs or White Sox fan growing up?

Mike Foltynewicz: If I had to choose it would be the White Sox, but I'm not really a Chicago teams guy. My parents are Cardinals fans, so I grew up rooting for them. We used to go to Busch Stadium every year and watch a game, so I guess I'm a Cardinals guy.

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

Mike Foltynewicz: I like Pujols for the way he's determined at the plate and how focused he is. For pitchers it would probably be Justin Verlander – he's going out there every game and throwing 98 MPH, and he's really dedicated and determined, too. I look up to those guys for that, and hope to be just like them one day.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one pitch from anyone else in your draft class, whose pitch would it be, and why?

Mike Foltynewicz: If I could steal one pitch it would probably be from Stetson Allie. I've heard he's got a pretty dirty slider that comes in around 89-90 MPH, so I might want to steal his pitch, or maybe just his velocity.

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

Mike Foltynewicz: Probably someone earlier in the summer or at one of my showcases, but I wouldn't really know anybody there well enough to give you a name. A guy from Andrew High, Jeff Zimmerman is probably one kid that was tough to get out, but other than that I'm not really concerned with any batter, I'm just going to go right at them and not going to be scared of anybody.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Obviously everyone wants their team to win, but what were your individual goals going into this season?

Mike Foltynewicz: I wanted to go out there and try to win every game I played. Keep my ERA as low as possible, keep my walks to under 20, and work on the changeup a lot more so I can be more comfortable with it down the road.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Did you make any mechanical changes to get the velo bump you have had?

Mike Foltynewicz: Over the summer I worked with my pitching coach a little bit, and he got me to slow down my delivery a little more, get on top of the ball, and get more downhill. That got me a couple of more miles per hour on the mound.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What do you like to do with your free time?

Mike Foltynewicz: I like to take it easy, chill with my friends, go out golfing, play the drums a little bit, and I like cars, so I work on my car a little bit, too.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What kind of car?

Mike Foltynewicz: I've got an ‘09 Mustang – I'm trying get it a little more horsepower under the hood.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Give it a velo bump, too?

Mike Foltynewicz: [laughs] Exactly!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If the team and numbers were right, is signing out of high school something that you would consider after being drafted?

Mike Foltynewicz: I'm definitely considering going right out of high school. In my eyes I think that route is a little bit better because you're getting a head start over kids that are going to college – getting your work in and moving up if you do well. I think it's a pretty good head start so I'm definitely considering it.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, how do you balance the pressures that come with the great opportunities you have in front of you with just trying to be a normal 18 year old kid?

Mike Foltynewicz: It's tough sometimes, I've had to deal with that my whole life with playing baseball all summer and not getting to hang out with friends or go on trips that other kids take over summer break. But that's my life, that's what I love to do, and that's what I plan on doing, but at the same time I'm just trying to have fun here in my senior year, win a state championship for my school, and have fun with the boys. Other than that I don't really care about those other things because I know baseball will be my job sometime in the future, and that's what I'm focused on.

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