Pirates Prospect Interview: Kyle McPherson

Kyke McPherson

Kyle McPherson ended his 2009 season on a high note; the 21-year old right-hander started the year with Class A West Virginia. He had a 5-2 record before being sent down to the State College Spikes. He finished the season with the Spikes posting a 4-3 record with a sparkling 2.99 ERA. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko caught up with McPherson just after the Spikes ended their season.

GVB -- You finished the season pitching very well, are you pleased with the way you pitched this season?

KM -- I was very pleased with what I did. The main mentality that I had was to work early in the count with the fastball and then use the changeup to offset the hitters timing and then come in hard with a fastball, either as an effect pitch to get them off the plate to setup another pitch away. I've really just used that simple scenario pretty much to every hitter and it seems to be pretty successful against the caliber of players in this league. I just kept it simple and stuck with what was working.

GVB -- The changeup is a point of emphasis in the Pirates farm system - do you use it a lot and are you comfortable with it?

KM -- I've always been pretty efficient with the use of the changeup, never really tried to do too much with the pitch. It's a contact pitch and that's really how the Pirates emphasize it - to throw it for contact and that's what I tried to do every time I threw it. It wasn't a swing and miss pitch, but sometimes it turned out to be a swing and miss pitch, but my mentality on the mound was just to throw it for contact and let the defense work behind me.

GVB -- The Pirates have limited some of the pitches that pitchers were allowed to throw. Did they limit what you were able to throw and have you concentrate on fastball command?

KM -- Not this year, but last year they limited my arsenal down to a four seam fastball, a changeup and a curveball. Before I had a two seam fastball as well as a slider, I was a four pitch starting pitcher and they really just wanted me to develop the three pitches - the four seam fastball for command and the use of the changeup and then use they curveball, which I used the second or third time through the lineup as a starter. That's what they emphasized with me as well as a few other pitchers in the organization.

GVB -- Were you allowed to throw other pitches this season?

KM -- I've pretty much stayed with what they've allowed me to use, I would like to get the two-seamer back, but as of right now it's just going to be the four seam fastball. They have some other mechanical issues and with release point that they want me to correct before they allow me to use that pitch again.

GVB -- You started at West Virginia and then they moved you down to State College, how did you feel about that?

KM -- For any player when they have to repeat a league it's not necessarily to your liking, but you just try to control the things you can control. I was just happy to go to State College and continue to be a starter and continue to get innings on the year. Looking back now, as the season is over, I'm just glad I was able to do that and stay healthy this year and actually put up decent numbers.

GVB -- You were named the pitcher of the year at State College, how did you feel about receiving that award?

KM -- I was pleased with that, in the back of my head I never really thought about my name being brought up for that. There were other pitchers and relievers that had a lot better ERA and there were pitchers that had more wins. I was fortunate and very surprised to receive that award.

GVB -- What are the Pirates plans for you, will you be sent to the instructional league?

KM -- I'm invited to instructional league this fall and I'll report on September 15 and I'm happy to go down there. They want me to continue to work on my fastball command and work with me on velocity and just overall pitch ability.

GVB What range is your velocity?

KM -- Usually I'm in the 89 to 94 range, I've been higher, but this year 94 has been my cap there. They are going to pull out some mechanical work in Florida and see if we can work out some of the kinks and see if they can pull out full velocity in me.

GVB -- Are you pleased with your progress through the minor leagues, do you have any sort of timetable?

KM -- Age has been very beneficial for me since I was drafted at 19. This is my third professional season and I'm 21 now. I'm just as old as the new draft guys are and looking at it from that standpoint it's progressing just fine.

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