FutureBacks Q & A: Ross Ohlendorf

FutureBacks Q & A: Ross Ohlendorf

He almost chose basketball, in fact when he first decided on Princeton, he planned on playing both basketball and baseball, but Ross Ohlendorf is a smart guy (did we mention he went to Princeton?), and when a future in baseball became realistic, he focused on a hard sinking fastball, much to the Diamondbacks delight.

When you're drafted out of Princeton people are immediately going to ask if you're a cerebral pitcher.  How much thought do you put into a game?


More than I probably should, pitching coaches have said that I should try not to over think.  I need to trust what the catchers call more often and remember that I don't have the experience of some of the other pitchers.  I know sometimes my pitch selection isn't as good as it could be.


You, A. J. Shappi, and Steven Jackson are a prime reason the Diamondbacks farm system is considered pretty strong.  Do you guys feel like a unit?


Well I think so, we all have different strengths, but if we know something, or notice something during a game about a hitter, we share that with each other.  If one of us is struggling sometimes another one of us will notice something different than usual and we talk to each other.  It's not just the three of us, the whole team gets along.  I know we're sort of competing for jobs ultimately, but we don't think about it that way, we're a team here.


What do you throw?


 Fastball, change and slider.  My last year in school I threw harder, but now I'm getting more consistent with my fastball.  I've been trying to work on locating rather than throwing as hard.  I threw a slider in college my last two years, I've been trying to throw the curve this year, I threw a curve early in college but switched to the slider because I haven't been able to control the curve as much.


Your velocity was down a little last year, was that simply fatigue, and is it back up?


 It was okay at the beginning of the season, but it's been down my last two starts.  I'm not worried about it, it's starting to get warmer, and as it does I think my velocity should come back.  My arm's been a little dead, just trying to adjust to throwing every five days instead of once a week.  I'm trying to not throw as hard, because I don't want to burn out, it's such a long season, and I haven't gone through it before, so I'd rather throw a little slower overall and be able to throw harder in situations where I need a big out.


Your last three outings things have been fantastic, did something click? 


Our pitching coordinator talked to us before my seven inning start, which was the best I've had in pro ball, and he told me he'd seen me pitch before that, and the difference was that when he saw me before I was keeping the ball down.  So I went into the start focused on keeping the ball down, letting it sink, getting ground balls.  I've been striking a lot of guys out, and I'm not really supposed to be doing that.  My last outing my slider wasn't as good, and when it's not that is when I've really got to focus.  Our pitching coordinator telling me to keep the ball down gave me something to focus on, and think about, and it really helped, just something specific to think about.


 How much different has the college game been from the pro game.  The Ivy League really is a pretty good baseball conference right?


The conference is pretty good.  Each team has a couple good hitters, but the competition isn't nearly as strong as what I'm seeing now.  The biggest difference has been pitching every five days, instead of every week.  I've already had eight starts here and we're only one-third of the way through the season, where as in college I would have nine starts in the entire regular season.


You're second in the Midwest League and top 15 in all of minor league baseball in strikeouts, do you consider yourself a strikeout pitcher?


I did in college, but I've heard for awhile in college and here that I wouldn't be once I turned pro.  My college coach told me that eventually I'd be a guy who'd get a lot of groundball outs.  I want to pitch deeper into games, and part of that means less strikeouts.  I feel like the two things can go together, my fastball gets me ground ball outs, and my slider is my strikeout pitch, so I like to throw the fastball early in counts, and if I get ground ball outs great, but when I get two strikes on a guy I want to put them away, strike them out.  I think it's possible to have both goals, it would be nice to do that.


Keith Moreland was your high school coach, and I've read that he's a big part of the reason you chose baseball over basketball.  Do you still talk to Moreland?


Yeah, I talk to him on the phone couple times a year, see him when I go home, my brother is a sophomore in high school now at Saint Stevens, so I get to talk to coach a little more frequently.  It's nice to keep in touch, and he's building a real good program, they went 29-2 last year. 


How good a basketball player were you?


In high school I was better at basketball, but I don't think I am anymore.  I don't really know how good I am anymore.  When I went to school I was planning on playing both but because I knew I could play baseball after college I focused on pitching.


What did you get your degree in?


I was in the engineering department, but I haven't graduated yet, I still have three classes and a thesis left.  I'm going to finish in the offseason, I got to go back and take some classes during the last one, and it's really great because I'll be walking in graduation in three weeks.  The Diamondbacks told me when I got drafted that they would make it would, and I would be able to have time to go back for graduation.


How has your arm been holding up this season?  How do you feel?


Our trainer and strength coach make sure we're doing stuff everyday to keep us from breaking down, our diet's not very good on road, so sometimes on road trips you can get a little groggy, but other than that unless we're injured they just keep us out there working hard, and I feel really good.


Do they have you on a pitch count?


I think they do, I think it's 105 pitches, but the most I've thrown is 100.  I guess in some circumstances they'll let us go more than 105, but I think the goal is to keep us in the 90s.


What is a good 2005 for you?


More wins than losses, an ERA under 3.00, that would make me happy with how I'm doing.  I'd also like to have my hits and walks down, right now I've given up a few more hits than I'd like to, but if I've got more wins than losses and an ERA under 3.00, I'd be happy.

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