I had the opportunity to talk with Oklahoma City RedHawks RHP Asher Wojciechowski on Saturday, the day before a dominating start in which he allowed one run while striking out eight batters in his six innings. Asher started out the season dominating in Corpus Christi, going 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP. He did not give up an earned run for the last 13 innings of 2012 through the first 20 and a third innings of 2013. Since his promotion to Oklahoma City, he has gone 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.204 WHIP. He pitches off a low to mid 90's fastball with a change up and a slider that is an effective out pitch for him.
I talked briefly with OKC Pitching Coach Steve Webber who had this to say about Wojciechowski, "He's made the transition from AA to AAA real smoothly. He had a hiccup a couple starts, but then he got back on track and he's pitched well lately. He's got a real good make up. He's a strike thrower with three pitches. That's going to take you a long way."
Here's what Asher had to say about his season thus far, the transition to AAA and a few other subjects (edited for brevity and clarity) ~
What has he accomplished so far this season?: "Just so far this year, I've been able to locate my pitches well and locate my fastball ... just being down in the bottom of the zone and just throwing quality strikes and just competing. I feel like I've been doing that well throughout this year and pretty much ever since I got traded over here. So I feel like I've been able to locate my pitches a lot better since the trade and throughout this year."
Speaking of the trade, how did he feel about it?: "I got a call at like 9:00 in the morning. It was real brief, saying I got traded. I was pretty excited about it because I was in High A at the time and they told me I was going to AA. I kind of got a second wind there because it was in July, through the heat of summer in Florida State League and [getting] that call, I just got a second wind and just got real excited."
On the transition from AA to AAA: "I feel like I've done pretty well so far. It's still the same game of baseball and so you've got to locate your pitches and be down in the zone. I think for the most part I've been able to do that so far. Here, your mistakes get hit more and in the big leagues, they get hit even more, so it's just being able to focus and just really minimize your mistakes as you move along through the system."
On the scoreless streak to start the season: "It was fun. I enjoyed it. Especially to start the season there on 20 scoreless innings and having 13 innings before that last year. When I was pitching on that streak, it was a lot of fun. It was a good time."
What Astros pitcher has a pitch he would like to steal?: "Probably Folty's [Mike Foltynewicz] fastball. I heard he hit 103 this year. so that would be nice to have.
What Astros hitter would he least like to face?: "Probably George Springer. Just with all the power he has, and he's fast. He can definitely take you deep and really far so I'd probably say him."
What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I would try to play football if I couldn't play baseball. I really enjoyed football. I broke my thumb my senior year of high school in the second game of the football season so I didn't really have a chance to pursue my football dreams, but baseball always came easier for me. But I definitely love football a lot and would try to play that. [He was a quarterback.]
Something most people don't know about him: "That I grew up a missionary kid and pastor's kid. Most people don't know that I lived in Romania for three years. We worked in orphanages. I would say that would be the thing most people wouldn't know about me, that I grew up on the mission field and lived all over the place.
Any pitching superstitions or rituals?: "Not really superstitious. I just kind of have my routine that I do. I wouldn't say it's superstitious. Maybe a little stitious. I have my routine I do all the time. I like to chew Dentyne Ice gum when I pitch so that's something I could say is kind of superstitious, just having some gum to chew. I don't like the bubble gum. I like the minty; it helps me breathe better so I like chewing that when I pitch. Other than that, usually during the game, I'll walk up one side of the steps and walk down the other side every inning and then I'll sit in the same spot every time."
On the state of the Astros farm system: "I think that it's a very good system right now, just full of players, a lot of talent. Over the last few years, they've made so many trades and just pretty much stockpiled prospects and so it's a very talented minor league system. Lot of talent, lots of guys, lot of competition ... we're all fighting to get to the big leagues and have success in the big leagues. There's a lot of talent here and hopefully a good future for the Astros."
Thank you for your time, Asher, and best of luck as the season unfolds. I'm sure I'll see you again before too long ... in Houston.