Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Interview with Astros LHP Jordan Mills

Last August in Greeneville, Tennessee, I got my first look at Astros LHP and 2013 28th round draft pick Jordan Mills. He definitely caught my attention, but then at 6'5" and rocking the high socks, he's a tad bit hard to miss.

Jordan Mills - August 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Aside from having a commanding presence on the mound, he also had the numbers to back it up. In his first 14 professional appearances (six starts), Mills went 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA, a 1.028 WHIP and he only walked 13 batters while striking out 43 in 47+ innings pitched. Batters only hit .216 against him and he had a 2.76 ground out/air out ratio, one of the highest ground ball rates in the organization.

I reached out to Jordan, who is currently at Extended Spring Training, via email to find out a little bit more about him. Here is what he had to say ~

JH: First things first. I always like to ask pitchers about their pitch repertoire, including velocity, movement, best out pitch, what you're working on, etc. Can you tell me a little about all that?

JM: The pitches I throw are a fastball (2 seam and 4 seam), change up, curveball, and cutter. I throw from a low 3/4s slot so I seem to get good action on my pitches tailing away from right handed batters. I’d have to say that my best out pitch is my change up and it produces strike outs and mass amounts of ground balls. I’m working on pitching to left handed batters more dominantly with perfecting my curve ball and cutter which both go away from a left handed batters barrel.

JH: What do you feel like you accomplished in your first professional season? What do you think you will need to accomplish this season in order to get to the next level developmentally?

JM: In my first professional season I feel like I accomplished being able to go out and compete more. Pitching to wood bats is a different experience and throwing strikes is a bigger part in the game as well as calling your own game. In order to get to the next level I need to be more consistent with throwing my cutter and curve ball to left handed hitters and just being more consistent in general.

JH: Can you tell me a little about your college career and the draft experience? Did you know that the Astros were interested in drafting you? Any other teams?

JM: My college career I went to Saint Mary’s College for 3 years and had an absolute great time. The team as well as the baseball was awesome and made quite a few life long friends along the way. It was tough junior year not to think about the draft cause for all baseball players, it's always in the back of your mind but as a team we always went out there and had fun and competed to the best of our ability and played for each other which helped take our mind off the pressure of the draft. I did know the Astros were interested. I got a pre-draft call from our area scout Bryan Byrne and was very excited to hear from him.

JH: What was the biggest surprise for you in your first professional season?

JM: The biggest surprise for me in my first professional season was how on our own we are. We call our own game and everything is on our shoulders when you toe the rubber so I felt it made you compete even more because you want to do as good as you can to help out your team as much as possible. As well as playing everyday, you really have to have your priorities straight to eat right, sleep right and do all of the right things on and off the field because it’s a grind compared to only playing 3 games a week in college.

JH: What Astros MiLB pitcher that you've played with or seen in ST or EST has a pitch you'd like to steal?

JM: Blaine Sims knuckleball for sure. When a catcher has to wear a special glove to catch you and even then still struggles, you know you have something unique and special.

JH:. What Astros MiLB player would you least like to face in the batter's box?

JM: I would have to say Jake Rodriguez; he’s always had my number even when we played together as kids.

JH: Since you get a lot of ground ball outs, is there a particular player that you really liked having play behind you when you pitched last season?

JM: I really liked having Jack Mayfield and Tyler White last year behind me. If the ball's hit in their direction you know they’re going to make the play.

JH: What teammate really makes you laugh?

JM: Chris Lee definitely makes me laugh the most. He’s always got energy day in and day out.

JH: What would you do if you couldn't play baseball?

JM: If I couldn’t play baseball I would go back to school and finish my last year of school at Saint Mary’s College and get my business degree

JH: Can you tell me a little bit about Extended Spring Training and the day-to-day experience?

JM: The Extended spring training day-to-day experience is a blast but still is a grind. You start off waking up at 6 am every morning and shower and get ready and eat breakfast to catch the bus by 7. Then we start practice and stretch around 8 and that usually goes to 11:30 eat lunch and get ready to play our game around 1. It’s all worth it because the knowledge that our coaches have is out of this world and we can learn so much from them day in and day out. They make it fun and interesting for us and we really get better every day we are out there.

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Thank you for your time, Jordan, and best of luck in the 2014 season.

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