Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Interview with RHP Mike Hauschild

It should be a good day at the Hauschild residence. Or at least a quiet one. When I talked to Mike last week, the Ohio native noted, "Our house phone just rings off the hook." But he has been too busy working and working out to be bothered too much by campaign phone calls.

Mike is a quiet guy so it took a little prodding to find out much about him. A 33rd round draft pick in 2012 out of the University of Dayton, his career and single-season strikeouts rank second in the history of the school and he is third in wins; and he was the New England Collegiate Baseball League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 summer ball.

In his first season in the Astros organization, he had a 1.78 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP in 19 appearances with 11.6 SO/9 and a 4.33 SO/BB ratio. As good as those numbers were, there were a couple of other things that struck me about Mike when I saw him in Greeneville in August. First of all, at 6'3" 210 lbs., he literally stood out among his teammates, many of whom were straight out of high school. Secondly, as I alluded to in my interview with Jordan Jankowski, I was impressed with the work ethic I saw from Hauschild and Jankowski. And it didn't hurt that he was wearing high socks the one time I saw him pitch.

But one other thing really struck me about him. According to the stats page, his groundball out to air out ratio for 2012 was a whopping 5.25. The Astros system player with the next highest rate was 2.81. Jankowski singled out Mike as the fellow pitcher who had a pitch he'd like to steal, stating, "I'd have to say definitely Mike Hauschild's fastball. His fastball moves like two feet. If I could steal that off him, that would be unreal. He can throw that to lefties, righties. That's one of the best pitches you could possibly have that moves that much and he just gets so many groundballs, it's just unreal to watch him pitch." [My emphasis]

So, enough with the intro, here's what Mike had to say ~

On his pitch repertoire: "I think my best pitch is my splitter ... I guess it's a forkball. But I don't have the control [with that] that I have on my change up. My change up is probably my most consistent pitch. They both drop the same amount but my forkball goes away to righties and my change up goes away to lefties so I kind of use my change up for left-handed hitters and my forkball for right-handed hitters. My slider was a lot better in the summer. I think that's why I had such great success against the righties because I got ahead of them with my slider and then I was able to use the forkball to get them to ground out and strike out.

In school ball, the balls we use are different. They have bigger seams. I got more movement [in school] because I used the seams to my advantage. So when I got to Greeneville, [I didn't get quite as much movement] so my forkball was a little rusty at the beginning and I threw a couple passed balls with it. So once I got someone on base, I tried to stay away from it. I'm trying to get it so I can throw it more for strikes right now. And some days it'll be good and I can throw it where I want it, but other days I don't want to give the catchers a headache so I can just get someone to ground out with my slider or my change up."

On his groundball rate: "Pretty much my whole career [I've been a groundball pitcher]. I kind of throw at a lower arm angle than most other guys that were on the staff at Greeneville. I kind of pronate everything so that's why I get all that run and sink. Those two things combined really just tend to be a little trouble for hitters."

On what he accomplished in the short season: "More than anything, just the kind of pitcher that I am, to set the tone for what I know I can do. Hopefully, management saw that. That I'm a guy whose going to get a lot of ground balls, throw a lot of strikes. That's probably the biggest thing that I took away from it.

On being a lower round draft pick: "I try not to worry about that. I'm just going out and having fun. I'm just honestly really happy that I got the chance to keep on playing. I hadn't heard anything going into the draft so it was kind of a surprise. I didn't want to get my hopes up. I felt like I was good enough to be drafted but no one had talked to me at all. I filled out a questionnaire a couple weeks before the draft from the Astros and that was the only thing that I'd done in the spring. I filled out a bunch of questionnaires in the fall because I played in the Cape and did pretty well in the Cape but no one called me or talked to me at all. I'd stopped following the draft actually. My head coach just called me and told me 'congratulations' and I [said] 'for what?' He [told me that I had gotten] picked up by the Astros."

On his UD teammate Brian Blasik: "I was surprised he didn't get drafted. I know he's definitely good enough and I'm sure a lot of people do now. I've played with him for seven years and this is what I've expected from him every year ... just come out, hit the ball hard and be solid defensively."

On his workout regimen: "It takes a lot of getting used to. Like summer ball ... I played summer ball on the Cape. It's very competitive up there. I kind of had an idea. There were some guys who have played from UD and they helped me along. They said, 'go and get your work done.' [At Greeneville] me and J.J. [Jankowski], we'd go lift before a lot of people even got there, [got] in our routine and it worked out well because we were pitching well. I [figured] I wasn't going to change anything if I was doing well."

On the biggest surprise from his first pro season: "Pretty much the same as Brian [Blasik, who talks about his experience here], just how relaxed everything was. I kind of expected it to be a little bit more ... coaches telling you what to do, super serious about everything because that's how it was at UD. They were always on us to do everything how they wanted. Here you have a lot more freedom to do whatever you wanted to do. Get two lifts in during the week. If you want to do more, you can. Run extra if you want to, but you don't have to. So it's just that freedom. I wasn't really expecting that."

On what he's doing in the off-season: "Trying to make as much money as possible. I work at UD. We have pitching clinics. We have a new pitching coach this year. He took over the clinics I've always worked and he asked me to help out with those too. So I'm working those. Working at a sports apparel store at a mall around here, helping [with] stats at UD sporting events. And then I'm working out trying to get in better shape."

Who on the team makes you laugh? : "I'd probably have to go with two of them. Michael Dimock and Zach Dando. Our whole bullpen was pretty close and we got along really well and joked around together so it was a lot of fun down there, but those two were pretty much the ringleaders. Had a lot of fun together, played jokes on people and just made everybody feel like a big family."

Was there a player you liked to just sit back and watch? : "I really like how Brian plays but I don't know if he would be my answer just because I've seen him play for as long as I can remember. I was very impressed by Carlos Correa when he came up. He played the game the right way and I wasn't really sure what to expect with the number one pick, you know, coming in feeling entitled, but he was not like that at all. He's a great, great kid. He played hard."

Who has a pitch you'd like to steal? : "Probably Jordan's [Jankowski] slider. He has a great slider and he made a lot of people look very bad this season with that pitch."

Which batter would you least like to face? : "Probably Brian just because he knows everything that I do. He'd be tough to get out. He knows all my pitches and what I like to throw so it would just have to be a mound battle up there. I always hated facing him in the fall when we played at UD because if I got behind he knew a fastball was coming and he was going to hit it hard."

On his connections with other Astros players: "I played with Brian seven years in a row. I played with him in high school. We played on the same summer ball team in high school. I knew a couple guys from Tri-City. They played on the same team in the Cape as I did. I knew Kenny Long and Andrew Aplin. I was acutally Kenny's roommate in the Cape. [I then asked him about Aplin.] I was very impressed by how he played there [the Cape]. He's kind of like Carlos [Correa]. Played the game the right way. Just all out all the time. If he were behind me every game I would be super excited."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball? : "I'd probably try to coach. I really like helping the kids with the clinics. I understand mechanics pretty well so I know when guys are doing some stuff differently so I'd try to be in coaching and if not hopefully something else in baseball. I don't know exactly what it would be, but I love the game and I'd like to be around it for as long as I can."

Thanks for your time, Mike! Enjoy the peace and quiet, and best of luck next season.

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