After the interview with P.J. Pilittere, my friend who has been setting these up contacted me saying I could interview Grant Duff. Grant was more than willing to do it and gave us some pretty thorough answers. For those of you who don't know Grant, check out Mike Ashmore's 2009 recap of Duff, or check out his minor-league stats. He very well could be coming to the Bronx sometime soon! Here's the interview (few of the same questions, which was done purposely)
Q: Assuming you're starting the season in Scranton or MLB, how do you think you'll adjust to the more experienced hitters?
A: I have always felt that if you execute your pitches and get ahead of hitters that that you will have success no matter who you face. As you move up hitters take advantage of your mistakes more and more. Though the triple A and Big league hitters will hit well executed pitches!
Q: What are your strengths as a pitcher? In what areas can you improve?
A: I would say that my velocity is my biggest strength. With that velocity I struggle to command my fastball. I am able to throw strikes just not exactly where i want them yet.
Q: How is Jesus Montero's defense? Did you see marked improvement in him? What's he like as a receiver? Did you have confidence 'burying' curveballs with him catching? What about throwing out runners?
A: I have slowly watched Montero become a very good catcher. When he first signed he was very raw but had some ability behind the plate. He has worked his butt off to improve his defense and it has really paid off. He receives the ball well and has learned how to work to pitchers' strengths. I have no problem throwing sliders in the dirt or burying splits with him back there. He is more than capable of throwing runners out as long as we pitchers give him a chance.
Q: Do you see a patch to the majors with the Yankees, or would it help to join an organization with less depth?
A: Just like any other organization there are guys in front of you and you have to earn your way up. I think that if I pitch to my ability and show them I am able to make that step I will get my chance!
Q: What teammate has been the most helpful in your time with the Yankees organization?
A: I can't name just one because a lot of guys have showed me things or said things that have helped me so much. Eric Wordekemper and Kevin Whelan both helped me learn a split! Mike Dunn helped me learn to focus on one pitch at a time! Then there is PJ Pilittere who had a huge part in my success last year.
Q: Is it tough to stick together as a close team when everyone is competing with each other to make it to MLB?
A: I really don't think so! I can only really answer from the AA and A-ball stand point though.
Q: Best and worst parts of being a pro baseball player?
A: Best part is being able to play a game that I have loved ever since I was a little kid everyday! You cant beat it!! The worst part is being away from my wife and family.
Q: Best player you've seen in the Yankees organization?
A: In 2008 I saw Eric Hacker and Zach McAllister pitch in Tampa and it was fun to watch! It was the most impressive pitching I have ever seen. The overall best player though would have to be Montero.
Q: I've heard many rumors about how fast your fastball has been, what's the fastest you think it's reached?
A: I fixed a few things in my mechanics last year to get my direction more on line with home plate. When that all came together my velocity jumped and I was up to 99.
Q: Most famous person in your phonebook?
A: Baseball-wise probably Todd Zeile. Where I am from it would be Tyler Flannagan or John Jackson. (Pro Snowboarders)
Thanks again to Grant Duff, who really does have a very good shot to make it to the majors this year. Interesting to see how highly he thinks of Jesus Montero. Maybe sometime this season or in the future we will see him and P.J. in the Bronx!