June 17, 2011 at 9:40 AM
One of several highly-touted pitchers to come out of the 2010 draft for the Boston Red Sox, right-hander Brandon Workman is midway through his first professional season with the Greenville Drive. Workman, 22, has 54 strikeouts in 59.1 innings on his way to a 2-4 record with a 4.21 ERA, and earned SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week honors after tossing 10 shutout innings with 12 strikeouts during the week of May 17. Earlier this month in Hagerstown, Md., Workman was nice enough to sit down and talk about his time at the University of Texas, his deadline-day deal, and his best moments out on the field as a ballplayer.
Jon Meoli: You’ve had a few months now to get your feet under you and get settled in professional ball. What’s that experience been like for you so far?
Brandon Workman: I think it’s going well now. I started off a little bit shaky, had a few rough outings, but as of late I’ve been throwing the ball pretty well, so I’m happy with it.
JM: You mentioned your recent improvement. Is there anything that either you or the coaching staff identified for you to improve on?
BW: No, not so much that as just trying to settle in. I’m starting to throw the ball more like I’m capable of. Early, I wasn’t locating pitches well and that was leading to problems.
JM: Even though you were drafted last year, you signed too late to debut before the season ended. What was the draft and signing process like for you?
BW: It was really exciting. I got drafted in the second round, and that was a good deal. Then we had to wait a while to work out all the details as far as the money goes. Once that got done, they sent me up to Lowell. I didn’t play up there, but I got to see how to get used to the routines that go along with professional baseball. I think that set me up to do well this year. In college, we don’t play every day. We only play four a week, so I had to get used to seven a week. I got used to the routines that go with that.
JM: After Lowell, what was your offseason like?
BW: I went down to Instrux, but I didn’t throw at all. I just did some workouts. The actual off-season, there was a lot more free time than I’m used to. I worked out every day and started getting my arm in shape and ready for spring training. Other than that, I live on a ranch in Texas, so I did a lot of hunting and fishing, those sort of things.
JM: Now you signed pretty late on the deadline day last year. Did it come down to the wire, or did you just have to wait to announce your signing bonus?
BW: It was just waiting and working out the details, figuring out how much that was going to be.
JM: There were several reports from out of Texas that you were thinking about going back to school. Was that a realistic option for you?
BW: It was in there, but it wasn’t something I was hoping to do. I was definitely hoping to sign, but it was a factor in the negotiations.
JM: In terms of your arsenal, what have you been throwing this season?
BW: I like to work off my fastball a lot. I like to establish it on both sides of the plate, and then get a good mix of curveballs and changeups to go along with it. My fastball has been between in the 92-96 range, and my curve has been high-70s to low-80s, and my change is around 80-82.
JM: If you had to identify something in yourself to improve on that will help you get to the next level, what would it be?
BW: I need to be more consistent in locating all of those pitches, [and] just be able to throw them for strikes whenever I need to and want to.
JM: What about your teammates? Is there anyone who’s impressed you with what you’ve seen out of them so far?
BW: When Bryce Brentz was here early, he was unbelievable. It seemed like every time he swung the bat, he was hitting the ball hard. He had a good approach, and it was really impressive to see the adjustments he made from Lowell to the beginning of this year.
JM: To that point, Lowell wasn’t having the best season last year, and while you weren’t playing, you were around for part of the season. This Drive team is a lot of the same players. Is there anything that’s different that you’ve seen that’s helped make this year better for you guys?
BW: I think everybody has just developed more as ballplayers. The pitchers are throwing a lot more quality strikes, making good pitches, and the hitters are swinging at better pitches and hitting the ball a lot better when they are swinging. There’s just been a lot of improvement from everyone as ballplayers.
JM: We talked a little before about just establishing those routines and getting used to professional ball? Do you think that applies across the board?
BW: Definitely. Lowell was, for the most part, everybody’s first time in professional baseball. This is the second, third go-around for guys, and also, their age. Everybody has a year more experience under their belt, and that really makes a difference.
JM: You’ve had a lot of personal success so far in your career, from your no-hitter sophomore year to your Cape Cod League success. What’s the crowning achievement for you so far?
BW: I don’t know about personal achievement, but my best memories playing ball were going to Omaha (to the College World Series) sophomore year. That was a great time. I pitched out of the bullpen in games 1 and 3 of the Championship Series. [Ed's note: Workman took the loss in Game 3. Former Greenville teammate Anthony Ranaudo got the win for LSU.]
JM: I’m sure the baseball team gets plenty of attention at Texas, but that must have been an incredible experience in Omaha. What was that like?
BW: It was really exciting. They had 25,000 people at the games. Everyone was cheering, and the stadium was really loud. It was a high pressure situation, but it was a lot of fun.