Continuing a theme in the 2015 draft, the New York Yankees selected Left Handed pitcher James Reeves in the 10th round of the 2015 draft out of the Citadel. Reeves became the eighth player selected out of college by the organization out of the first ten picks, representing a shift in philosophy under first year Vice President of Player Development Gary Denbo. Reeves is the Yankees second player chosen out of the Citadel in as many years, joining his close friend and former teammate Bo Thompson, who was taken in the 13th round in last year’s draft. After two seasons in relief duty and a subsequent elbow injury, Reeves moved to the starting rotation during his senior season, pitching a no-hitter against Mercer on April 2nd, fanning 14 batters, the most since Astros prospect Asher Wojciechowski struck out 15 back in 2009. Pinstriped Prospects recently spoke with James Reeves as he makes his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees.
Pinstriped Prospects: What were your expectations heading into the draft and did you expect to be drafted by the Yankees?
James Reeves: “I actually didn’t. It was a shock, but I guess that shows how well the area scout did in the Carolinas. Obviously it is a tremendous honor to get a shot with this organization”
PP: At the Citadel, you played with Yankees prospect Bo Thompson. Did he give you any advice about being drafted or speak to you after the Yankees made the selection?
JR: “Before the draft we actually got to out. On the first day of the draft I did not think I would go on the first couple of rounds. He was talking about staying laid back and whatever happens it is still a game and it will all work out. He is a good person to bounce stuff off of since he experienced it last year”.
PP: Last season you suffered a major elbow injury costing you most of the 2014 season. What steps did you take to regain any lost velocity and strength to rebound heading into this spring?
JR: “I think the Citadel sports medicine department did a really good job helping me with my rehab and continuing to get stronger and get back on a throwing program. I feel like I have not had any setbacks since coming back. It’s been a good experience coming back from the injury”.
PP: This season at the Citadel you threw the pitched the first no-hitter at the university in 13 years against Mercer, fanning 14 in the process. Are pitchers generally aware of a no-hitter in progress and what steps did you take to not the scoreboard creep into your mind and dictate the way you pitch?
JR: “On that same stat line I walked five guys that game. There was a baserunner on every inning. I did not realize I was throwing a no-hitter until the 7th or 8th inning. You can’t help noticing it and hope to keep executing pitches.”
PP: You were drafted as a left handed starter. What pitches do you throw in your arsenal and what is your peak velocity?
JR: “I throw a fastball, changeup, and a slider. I probably will not wow many people with velocity. I’ll run it up occasionally to 93 MPH. I’ll say 88-92 MPH.”
PP: What expectations do you have as you begin the next phase in your career and what adjustments does a player go through transitioning from school to professional baseball?
JR: “In college you take the best high school hitters in the lineup, one through nine. In pro ball you face the best hitters from college and all over the world. You try to continue to execute pitches and make gains.”