Thursday, March 29, 2012

An Interview with RHP Chris Hicks

Dallas Keuchel ‏ @kidkeuchy
Unless your hot, you should not be allowed to take pics of yourself in front of a mirror.. Period

Christopher Hicks ‏ @RonaldPineapple
@kidkeuchy I do it daily

Chris Hicks doesn't tweet a lot, but when he does it's often very funny (and very sarcastic). I didn't know much about Chris (or his Ronald Pineapple persona) and I had wondered about his sudden departure from the Arizona Fall League last October so I decided to go to the source.

First a little background ... Chris was a 14th round pick in 2008 and after a handful of appearances out of the bullpen in Tri-City that year, he was quickly sent to Lancaster the next season where he was used exclusively as a starter. In 26 starts for Lancaster in 2009, he was 9-11 with a 6.12 ERA and a 1.612 WHIP. But then he lost the entire 2010 season to surgery before coming back strong in 2011 out of the bullpen. After 15 appearances at Lancaster in which he had a 3.28 ERA, a 0.973 WHIP, 10.2 SO/9 and 1.8 BB/9, he was promoted to Corpus Christi where he had a 3.77 ERA and a 1.465 WHIP (but less favorable SO and BB numbers).

Enough stats! On to the questions ...

WTH: First of all, I've got to ask about Ronald Pineapple. Is there a story behind that or just another example of what I suspect is a quirky sense of humor?

CH: I am a somewhat sarcastic person/jokester. So my wife told me to make up any name for my account, and at the time Ronald Reagan was doing a political analysis of the upcoming election, and at the same time; I was indulging into some pineapple. So obviously I just threw them together and made magic.

WTH: You started out in the Arizona Fall League after the season ended, but only made two appearances before being shut down and sent home. Was there a problem with the shoulder or was it just a precaution?

CH: I had been throwing for 15 months straight and was starting to get fatigued. So I felt it was best to rest the body and get prepared for this season.

WTH: Could you tell me a little about the shoulder injury and how that's affected your development. I know that before the injury you were used as a starter and afterwards you've been used exclusively in relief. Is that related to the injury? Do you have a preference for starting or relief?

CH: After the surgery, it is difficult to see myself going back into the starting role. Although I have succeeded in that role, I feel more comfortable out of the bullpen.

WTH: You were extremely effective at Lancaster, a ballpark that is notorious for crushing pitcher's dreams, in 2011 and almost as effective at Corpus later in the season (but for the strikeout to walk rate). How do you account for your success in such a tough venue as Lancaster and how did the two ballparks compare?

CH: In Lancaster, you have to really focus on keeping the ball down. Velocity is overrated in a park like that, since any fly ball will be a goner. (We have had pitchers batting practice and anyone can hit one out of there.) Whereas in Corpus, the elements play true to a normal baseball game. So it is much easier to succeed in a park like Corpus if you can execute the proper pitches.

WTH: What are your best pitches? Velocity? Are you working on refining or adding a pitch to your repertoire?

CH: My repertoire has pretty much stayed the same since being drafted by the Astros. Just an ordinary fastball and a decent breaking ball.

WTH: If you could "steal" a pitch from any of your Astros teammates, what pitch would it be and whose?

CH: Keuchel changeup.

WTH: What Astros teammate would you least like to face in the batter's box?

CH: Kody Hinze. Best hitter in the minors and my road roommate.

WTH: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

CH: Obsessed with watches and nice dress suits.

WTH: One final question. Do you prefer Chris, Christopher or Ronald?

CH: Chris.

Thank you for your time, Chris. Best of luck in the 2012 season!

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