Mariners Insider Blog

Q&A with Bob Fontaine, John McMichen

Here's a transcript, courtesy of the Mariners, with VP of scouting Bob Fontaine and John McMichen, Major League/East Coast coordinator of scouting, on picking Joshua Fields with the team's first pick (No. 20 overall).

Fontaine: This draft came out how we mentioned to you earlier about position players being heavy in the draft. The thing that happens when that takes place is that by the time you pick 20th, a good many of them are already gone which then leaves a lot of pitchers available which is the way we went.

I think the first 10 out of 12 taken were position players if I'm not mistaken, but we had targeted to be in a position to get some power arms and most of the power arms at that part of the draft are obviously relievers, and when you can get a reliever with a power arm that's on a relatively short course to the Major Leagues it makes it very, very attractive.

... Our staff has seen him numerous times and this kid has a power arm and a power curveball and he is a good competitor. This is a great starting point for us in this draft.

Question: How close is he to the Majors?

Fontaine: You'd like to say close but you don't want to say a month, a year or two years, but when you have that kind of stuff in a relief situation, you obviously feel it is closer than if it were a starter depending on when he gets started.

Question: Is command something you will be working on with him?

Fontaine: We saw better command this year. The one thing with a relief pitcher, your command is a little bit different than a starter because you go out later in a game and hitters have a tendency to be a little more anxious to swing at pitches. This kid's command improved, but the breaking ball that this kid has sets up everything and that can expand the strike zone in a hurry.

McMichem: I've seen Josh since he was in high school. Our area scout then was named Craig Bell and he liked him a lot but it was pretty well known that Josh was going to go to college at the University of Georgia. The scout that has been scouting him this past year is named Chuck Carlson and between Craig and Chuck, we feel we have an extensive history with Josh.

What I've seen of Josh this year, I've seen him twice, once was an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves. We got to see him pitch the third inning of the game, he was 93-97, his breaking ball was a power curveball which was up to 85 miles per hour, he gave up one hit and then retired the next three that he saw. He looked like he fit in in that setting and it wasn't hard to imagine him being in that setting in the future in a Mariners uniform.

He's not the kind of guy you want to face; you're not going to feel comfortable in the box against him. He's a very good athlete. He's very strong.

Question: Is he pretty much a two-pitch guy?

Fontaine: Being in the bullpen, that's usually what you have (fastball, curveball) but he has a third pitch, but those are usually a show pitch for a reliever just to give the hitter one more thing to think about. He's definitely a reliever, there's no thought of making him a starter.

Question: Does this allow (Morrow) to move in to the rotation?

Fontaine: It certainly gives you a lot more options, yes, it does. The shorter you make the game, the easier it is for your starting pitchers. When you take nine inning games and make them six or seven inning games, it's a lot easier for a starter than if you have to go seven or eight every night.

In the last 15-20 years, you've seen teams with real good bullpens, you can go back to the Seattle team (2001) and it was power, power, and power. It shortens it up for the starting staff; the more you improve your bullpen, the more you improve your starting staff. Everybody would agree that it's hard to get eight inning starters.

Question: Are you worried about signing him?

Fontaine: I think his expectations were probably that he was going to go in the first round and he went in the sandwich round which happens a lot. As far as specifics go, that was between him and the team that drafted him, we're not worried about that.