This week TPA features an interview with a
pitcher coming off a dynamite season. Brandon Duckworth (who is
currently with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons) is picking up where he
left off last year…check out his 2001 stats so far!
TPA: After not being drafted after your junior
year (1997) at Cal State Fullerton, how does the success of last season at
Reading make you feel?
DUCKWORTH: The feeling of my
successful season last year at Reading is simply overwhelming. I attribute
the success from playing winter ball in Venezuela. I was able to pitch
against the likes of Maglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee, Richard Hidalgo and some
other former major league players. I feel playing against them makes you
elevate your game. You know if you make mistakes to them, they will make
you pay. I was able to learn so much about the game from my manager
(Marc Bombard) and pitching coach (Marty DeMerrit). The knowledge they
passed on to me as well as playing against the very talented players in
Venezuela helped me have a great season last year in Reading.
TPA: After coming off a subpar 1999 season at
Clearwater to leading the Eastern League in strikeouts and earning
recognition as an all-star and as the circuit’s No. 5 prospect, what do
you say to those who look at your 2000 season as a
DUCKWORTH: To all those people out there who
think my 2000 season was a fluke. I will prove everyone wrong and give you
no reason to doubt my abilities to play this game at the best highest
TPA: You have often been labeled as a finesse
pitcher. What have you done to maintain your increase velocity to enjoy
success in the majors?
DUCKWORTH: I believe the
increase in my velocity is attributed to throwing a lot, as well as being
on a strength and conditioning program. The more I have thrown in the past
years, the better my velocity has gotten. Lifting weights has helped me
gain muscle and stay strong throughout the
TPA: Your strengths have been described as
surprising pop and movement on his fastball. It regularly is in the 87-92
mph range, topping out at 94. Sharp 12 to 6 curveball was rated the best
breaking pitch in the Eastern League, and also has a changeup. Will throw
any of his three pitches at any point in the count. Is this an accurate
account of your strengths currently?
have accurately stated my strengths. I hope to continue to improve on all
my pitches throughout my career. Last year was probably the most I
have improved in my career.
TPA: Have you
developed any other pitches in the off
DUCKWORTH: This off-season, I worked on a
slider. I feel it will help me in the long run. It is a different look and
is a great ground ball pitch. My curveball is also a ground ball pitch,
but I have found that it is not hit hard enough to turn double plays most
of the time.
TPA: How close were you to making the
big league staff at spring training this
DUCKWORTH: I did not get a real opportunity to
make the team out of spring training. I was sent down after three weeks of
camp. There were not enough innings to go around. So I went down to
minor league camp to get my innings in.
role has your family played in your pro baseball
DUCKWORTH: My family has played an enormous
role in my pro career. I am very close with my family. I talk with them 4
or 5 times per week. They have always been there for me when times have
been good and bad. They give me all of their love and support. It makes
this lifestyle much easier when the important people in your life are
backing you no matter if you are going good or bad. I am truly blessed to
have such a wonderful family.
TPA: Who would you
compare your pitching style to?
DUCKWORTH: I would
probably compare myself to Darryl Kile. I throw very similar pitches. I
throw a fastball, 12-6 curveball, and change-up. I have also added a
slider to my repertoire.
TPA: Where do you see your
pitching career at a year from now?
hope to see myself in the major leagues next year. I believe if I continue
to learn and pitch consistently, I have a definite shot at competing for a
spot in the rotation.
TPA: Is there anything outside
of baseball you would like to share about yourself with your
DUCKWORTH: I have many hobbies outside of
baseball. I love the outdoors. I enjoy hunting, fishing, and camping with
my friends. I also like to play golf. Any time I can get out on a river
and fly fish, I feel like I am in heaven. I love getting away from the
everyday life and this is one way I do so. The golfing I relate in many
ways to baseball. You need to stay focused and calm. I love to compete and
I find golfing is the best way to do so outside of facing a
I would like to thank Brandon Duckworth for his
time and wish him all the luck in the world in the 2001
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