State College Spikes pitcher Jimmy Reed, recently drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, took some time recently to speak to Redbird Rants.
Daniel Solzman: Thank you for joining Redbird Rants today and congrats on being drafted by the Cardinals. How are things treating you up in State College, Penn.?
Jimmy Reed: Everything is going really well. I’ve settled in with a host family up here and have gotten used to the town after being here for a couple weeks. It’s a great college town and the people and fans here are awesome. There were a little over 5,000 fans at our Home Opener which was great to see and I hope we keep winning so we can keep bringing those fans back.
Daniel Solzman: When did you know that the Cardinals were interested in drafting you?
Jimmy Reed: I had spoken to the Cardinals a little bit during my junior year of college and then throughout this past year as a senior. I had kept in fairly frequent contact with their area scout, Sean Moran, for most of the year and actually sat down and met with him leading up to the draft. I knew the Cardinals had been at more than one of my starts too, which was a pretty good indication.
Daniel Solzman: How did it feel to make your professional debut on June 19th?
Jimmy Reed: It was a great feeling. As a kid growing up you always dream of becoming a professional baseball player and to actually have that dream come true is a great feeling. Although it was not my best performance, I was still happy with how everything went. We ended up winning the game and I couldn’t really ask for more in my debut.
Daniel Solzman: A few weeks ago when I spoke to Maryland coach John Szfec, he said that the Cardinals were a team you were hoping to be drafted by. Can you expand on those comments?
Jimmy Reed: The Cardinals have a history of developing players. Just a few weeks ago there was an article written in Sports Illustrated detailing how and why the Cardinals put championship-caliber players on the field every year – and its through their development in their minor league system. On top of getting a chance to develop into a better pitcher, I felt like the Cardinals all along showed the most interest and want in me. As an incoming player, I wanted to be on a team that I knew would be invested in me and I think that is the case.
Daniel Solzman: The ACC was pretty strong this season in baseball with 8 teams being selected for the NCAA Tournament. While Maryland did not get the opportunity to play in the postseason, how did it feel to have won ACC Pitcher of the Week honors twice this past season?
Jimmy Reed: I thought it was a great honor. In my four years at Maryland, we never had anyone named ACC Pitcher of the Week. So while it may not seem like a big deal to others in the conference, our team, staff, and fans do not take accolades like that lightly because Maryland and its players are not used to getting that type of recognition. I thought it was great for our program because it showed how Maryland is definitely a program that has been on the rise and will continue to be.
Daniel Solzman: The Yankees selected you in the 21st round last summer but you decided to return for your senior season. Did you feel that you improved by returning to school?
Jimmy Reed: I have no doubt that I improved. Getting the opportunity to come back to school, pitch another year in the ACC, pitch in the Cape Cod League, and get my degree are all things that I will never look back on and regret. I think having another year under my belt really helped me mature as a starting pitcher and get my name on the map to increase my stock for this past year’s draft and I think it really paid off.
Daniel Solzman: On that subject, how did former Maryland coach Erik Bakich and current coach John Szfec prepare you for the next level?
Jimmy Reed: They both taught me how to be a professional and how to be mentally tough. They constantly spoke about coming to the field or practice or whatever it may be and having a plan or mindset about what you want to accomplish that day. In other words, being a professional in everything that you do.
They also taught me how to be mentally tough in whatever situation I’m in, whether it be on the field or in life in general. Every time I pitch there is a situation during the game that requires me to out-will my opponent. They both taught me how to slow the game down and win in those types of situations.
Daniel Solzman: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Jimmy Reed: I have always been a huge Chipper Jones fan. I grew up watching the Braves and you would think that being a pitcher, I would love Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, or Tom Glavine. But my favorite was always Chipper.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us and best of luck. Any final words for the best fans in baseball?
Jimmy Reed: I want to thank every Cardinal fan that has already showed me support during my early professional career and I hope that in the future I can get to St. Louis to help our club continue its long tradition of winning championships!