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SoxProspects News

June 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Q&A with Miguel Pena

The Red Sox’ sixth-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Miguel Pena is no stranger to the draft process. The left-hander out of San Jacinto College and La Joya High School in Texas was chosen in the fifth round by the Nationals in 2009 and in the 13th round by the Padres in 2010, but chose not to sign either time. The third time proved to be the charm, however, as Pena signed almost immediately this year and was assigned to Lowell, where he will soon make his pro debut. Pena has good control of a high-80s fastball that tops out in the low 90s, a plus mid-70s curveball, a slider and a changeup. I recently got the chance to talk to Pena, who goes by Mickey in person, about what was different about this year, some bumps along his road to the pros, and coming to New England after going to school in Texas.

Chris Hatfield: This is the third time you’ve been drafted. Coming into this draft season, did you know that you were going to sign?
Miguel Pena:
I really didn’t know. After I realized that the Red Sox had drafted me, it was definitely a go for me. The Red Sox have been my favorite team since 2004 when they won the pennant. I knew right away that things were looking good for me as soon as they drafted me. I had a good feeling before the draft that they were going to take me.

CH: So they’re your favorite team, but you’re from Texas. How does that work?
MP: The Texas Rangers weren’t really that hot at the time. I do consider them my second team, the Texas Rangers – and not the Houston Astros – but I’ve always followed the Boston Red Sox. They had a phenomenal pitching staff, great hitting, their whole team was outstanding. I guess it doesn’t matter that I’m from Texas – I really did keep up with them.

CH: How close were you to signing the other two times you were drafted? Did it ever get to the point that you thought you were going to sign?
MP: No. I was never close to signing. Out of high school with the Nationals, I gave them a certain figure and told them not to draft me if it wasn’t going to be met, and they went ahead and drafted me. I waited until the deadline, but I was never thinking of signing. San Jac was always a choice for me to go back and better myself, and I obviously did that both years, which I think worked to my advantage. With the Padres, I took the same steps as I did with the Nationals, except I went and played in the Cape Cod League. I thought I put up pretty good numbers and things were looking good for me, but then there were some off-field issues. At the end of the day, I put everything in God’s hands and it worked out pretty fine.

CH: You mention, and I’d be remiss not to ask about, those off-field issues that happened on the Cape. Can you talk about what happened at all?
MP: (There were) just some issues with the host family. The Cape is nothing but rules, and you’ve got to act professional. I did break the rules slightly, not to the point where people have been hearing, and that’s what kind of bothers me. It’s pretty much out of my hands where I can’t really defend myself. It was just a bunch of rumors getting thrown out there where I couldn’t do anything about it. It was the whole world against me.

CH: Was that an experience you’ve learned from?
MP: Definitely. It really showed me a lot. It really opened my eyes, not only for me, but speaking for my family, especially my mom, who is my hero. We came from nothing. This has pretty much been my dream my whole life. It really opened my eyes to things that could really bring my career down, and my family.

CH: You throw fastball-curve-slider-change based on the scouting reports. How do you like to mix your pitches, how do you like to use them, what pitches do you feel most comfortable with?
MP: I feel confident with all my pitches. I feel I can command all four pitches. I can work in and out with my fastball, which is my number one pitch. But at the end of the day, I think the command is what really helps me a lot, especially being a left-handed pitcher.

CH: Going into your first pro season, do you have any goals that you’ve set for yourself?
MP: My goal so far is to gain weight and get stronger. I know I have the pitching techniques, but my size is something I need to work on to get to the show. Also, keeping my ERA low, that’s definitely always my goal – never give up any runs.

CH: I read online that Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals is from your area?
MP: Yeah, he’s actually from Reynosa, Tamaulipas (Mexico), and he played at Mission (Texas) Sharyland. I’m from La Joya, which is in the same district. I got to work with Jaime Garcia for a day. I picked up some pretty good pointers. I was a freshman in college, but that one day really helped me a lot. He gave me so many pointers on how to better myself as a pitcher, and also a person off the field.

CH: Anybody else in the game?
MP: I threw BP to Jorge Cantu. Jesse Gutierrez, he’s in Triple-A right now for the Reynosa Broncos (of the Mexican League), and he was in Triple-A for the Reds. Those three I became good friends with.

CH: Is being up here in Lowell a little different for you?
MP: I love it here. I’m so thankful being here. I wish I could stay here to be honest. I love the weather – the humidity back home is horrible. You step outside and you’re sweating already. I really enjoy it up here. Other than here, I’d say Hawaii is the furthest I’ve been, but I’ve been used to being away from home since the age of 10 or 11. My mom set me loose at a young age, and I think that’s what helped me blossom in my career.