SoxProspects News

August 23, 2007 at 3:09 PM

12 Questions with Nick Hagadone


SoxProspects.com recently exchanged some Q&A's with Lowell SP Nick Hagadone. Nick was the first player taken by the Red Sox in the 2007 draft, and the 55th player taken overall. He started his season in Lowell with a tough outing but hasn't allowed an earned run in 14 innings since his debut. Many thanks to Nick for taking the time to answer our questions.


SP: You were drafted in the later rounds in 2004 by Seattle. What factors went in your decision to turn down the Mariners and enroll at the University of Washington?

NH: When I was drafted in 04' by Seattle, it was in the later rounds, and I was going to be a draft-and-follow so there was no guarantee that I was going to be able to sign. During high school, baseball wasn't my main focus. I concentrated mostly on developing my football skills and I felt like I wasn't ready to make the jump from high school to professional baseball. Originally I was signed to go to Bellevue Community College but then Ken Knutson from the UW called and offered me a scholarship. It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up because I knew that the coaching staff there would help me to fully develop my potential.

SP: At UW, you were part of a pretty good pitching staff, including Tim Lincecum and our own Richie Lentz. What have you learned from these pitchers and what might they have learned from you? Have you been in touch with Richie Lentz since joining the organization?

NH: At Washington I think it was a big help for me to be a part of a pitching staff with so many good pitchers like Tim and Richie. Watching those guys for my first two years really helped me learn how to attack hitters and just be aggressive by throwing a lot of strikes. I was only able to see Richie throw about ten innings but he and Lincecum were both exciting to watch because they threw very hard and were dominating. I think one thing that those two and hopefully everyone who I have played with can learn from me is the value of hard work. By working hard I was able to fully develop my talent and go from not pitching to having a pretty big role on the team this year. I haven't been in contact with Richie yet since I've been in the organization, but I'm sure that I will see him at UW during the off-season.

SP: How was the draft experience for you this year? Did you have a good idea of where you'd be selected? Did you have a lot of contact with the Red Sox before the draft?

NH: The draft experience for me this year was both stressful and exciting. I knew that there was a very good chance that I would be drafted, but I wanted to improve my stock by performing well throughout the whole spring. Going into last fall and winter, no scouts really knew who I was, and I just wanted to make sure that every time I pitched that I had a good outing. Going into the draft I had a general range of picks where I thought that I was going to go, but there was nothing for sure, which made it very stressful just waiting for my name to pop up on the draft tracker. Before the draft I had a lot of contact with the Red Sox. I met the area scout John Booher around Christmas time and was in contact with him quite a bit until the draft.

SP: Comparing your past six pro outings to your first is like night and day. Were you feeling any jitters during your debut that led to that result, was it a matter of rust, or was it just coincidental?

NH: My first pro outing definitely didn't go the way that I wanted it to go, I didn't even make it through my two innings before getting pulled out - I was very disappointed with my performance. I was a little nervous, but it was just one of those days where they hit pretty much anything that I threw up there, and when I made mistakes I got hurt. Since then, I have just tried to forget about it and make adjustments to the way that I go after the hitters and what pitches I throw them in certain situations.

SP: What are your feelings on having your outings limited to 2 or 3 innings? Does it get frustrating at all?

NH: Being limited to 2 or 3 innings in my first season can be frustrating at times, but I know that it is being done for a good reason. I know that everyone in this organization knows what they are doing when it comes to developing players so I have just learned to trust them and do whatever they tell me to do.

SP: What's been the biggest adjustment you have faced going from college baseball to the professional ranks?

NH: The biggest adjustment that I have had to make from college to the pros is learning how to go after hitters. In college, our coach called all of the pitches so there was really no thinking involved. Now I have to be aware of the kinds of swings hitters are putting on certain pitches and their strengths and weaknesses so I can throw the right pitch. I have also started to throw more change-ups this summer. In college I relied on only my fastball and slide, but at this level you have to be able to throw a change-up too.

SP: Has the organization worked with you on developing certain pitches this year, or have they allowed you to just do your own thing so far?

NH: Yes, they have worked a great deal with me to develop my change-up. In college, I had four pitches that I threw. Mainly I would use my fastball and slider, but I also had a change-up and a split finger. When I got to Lowell, the pitching coach told me that my change-up has a lot of potential to be a good pitch and that I should just concentrate on developing it and to stop throwing a split. That was a huge help because now I only have to work on three pitches instead of four and I can devote more time to each one.

SP: We hear a lot from the scouts and we've had a chance to get to see you play, but we like to ask the prospects to give scouting reports on themselves. What velocities do you throw your pitches at? Do you like to use your slider or fastball as your out pitch? How is your change-up coming along? What's the one aspect of your game you think needs the most work?

NH: First of all, I like to throw a lot of fastballs. Doing that enables me to be aggressive and go after hitters and to also get ahead in the count. I feel like I have pretty good command of the pitch and it sits in the 92-93 mph range, topping out at 95. Right now, my slider is my best secondary pitch. I've been throwing it around 82-83 this summer and it has sharp downward bite. I use it as my out pitch to both lefties and righties, and I have the confidence to throw it for strikes when I am behind in the count. My change-up has been a big surprise for me this summer, I never really had to use it in the past but I have found out that the more I throw it the better it is getting - I keep on gaining confidence in it. I throw it at 80-81 mph and I have used it to effectively keep hitters off-balance so they can't just sit on my fastball. One of the main things that I try to do on the mound is to be the aggressor. I always want to be ahead in the count, and I like to challenge hitters.

SP: If it was up to you, do you prefer starting or coming out of the pen?

NH: Honestly, I don't have a real preference, each role has its benefits. Starting is good because there is a set routine and you know exactly when you are going to pitch so you can lift and run harder in between starts. It's also good because you get to throw more innings than a closer. One thing that I like about closing is the adrenaline rush that you get when you come into the ninth inning of a close game. Closing forces you to challenge everyone and the intensity and pressure of the situation make it more fun.

SP: If you had to pick one teammate at Lowell who has impressed you most this season, who would it be?

NH: I would say that Jose Capellan has impressed me the most this season in Lowell. Every start he seems to have a great outing and he always keeps the hitters of balance by mixing up his three pitches.

SP: What are your off-season baseball plans? Will you be pitching in the Fall Instructional League? Working on anything in particular?

NH: My off-season baseball plans are to basically improve as much as possible before I report to Spring Training. I plan on getting in even better shape, becoming stronger, and also more flexible. I want to make sure that I keep on getting better so I can make it to the big leagues. I will be pitching in instructional league this fall, and they have told me that I will be limited to throwing only my fastball and change-up. This will enable me to have three good pitches when I make my starts next year.

SP: What are your off-season non-baseball plans? What does Nick Hagadone like to do in his free time?

NH: My off-season non-baseball plans are to spend a lot of time with friends and family. I don't get to see them as often now because I am across the country for half the year so the time I get to spend at home is very valuable to me. It will be great to be able to see my girlfriend every day and to be able to see my parents whenever I want to. I live in Seattle in the off-season and it's only 45 minutes from my hometown of Sumner, so it's an easy trip.

 
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