Chandler Eden is a righthander at Yuba City (Calif.) High, the same school that produced Astros catching prospect Max Stassi. With his lean, 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame, Eden checked in at No. 99 on Baseball America’s list of the Top 100 high school prospects last fall. I caught up with Chandler on the phone, after his game on March 21. Read or listen to the interview below to learn about how Oregon State discovered him, how hard he’s throwing this spring, and who he picked to go to the Final Four this year. . .
You guys played today, how did it go?
We played a game. I pitched six innings and I think I had about eight ‘Ks,’ but we had some defensive errors and we ended up losing, 4-1. But it was one of the best, top-ranked teams in Sacramento. They were a pretty good-hitting team. It went pretty good though, other than that.
How’s the season going for you, overall?
The season so far, I’m 0-1. I started three games. The first two I gave up no runs through five innings, but our bullpen didn’t get it done in the first two. And then, this game that we played today, I gave up four runs. We’re doing all right though, so far. It’s been a little rough, but once league starts we’ll be fine.
I looked up your school on Google Maps and it looks like you guys have three baseball fields there?
Yeah, we have three fields. We have freshman, J.V. and varsity.
You guys are scheduled to play in the Boras Baseball Classic. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah, the Boras Classic, I’m really looking forward to it because it’s the best teams in Northern California, pretty much. We get to compete with all of them and I think we’ll be doing pretty good in that tournament. We’ve got Del Oro to start with and if we win that, we’ll play against the No. 1 team in the Sacramento area, Elk Grove. So, I’m pretty excited about that.
Do you know which game you’re going to pitch?
As of right now, I don’t know if I will actually be pitching in that because I threw today. I threw like 88 pitches today. If I throw in that tournament, it will be late in the tournament, depending on how we do.
So there’s no chance you’ll pitch against Elk Grove?
No, I won’t be pitching against Elk Grove. Maybe, I might be able to close out an inning or so, but I won’t be able to pitch against them.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you first start playing baseball and what was it that really drew you into the game?
I first started playing baseball when I was about 5 years old, and what drew me in was I always loved hitting the ball and I just loved competing out there and just being a part of a team and stuff. I thought it was pretty neat.
When did you first start pitching?
I first started pitching when I was about 8 or 9, and I started out pretty good at it, but then I started kind of like fading away from it. I wasn’t really just a straight-on pitcher until about this year, actually. My pitching didn’t really start to come on until my junior year.
So, that’s when you first started taking it seriously?
Yeah, exactly, like really concentrating on pitching.
Did you play other sports growing up?
Yeah, in middle school I played football. And then I wound up playing basketball up to high school, but I’ve just played baseball in high school, that’s it.
Playing your senior year is already special enough, but what’s it like having all the extra attention from scouts and the media that comes with being a top prospect?
It’s pretty neat, just knowing that they’re looking at me and stuff. But, I’m pretty set on going to school, going to Oregon State. But it’s pretty cool. It’s cool to get some attention sometimes. I like it.
Let’s talk about Oregon State. Obviously you committed there. When did the Beavers’ coaching staff first see you pitch, and what was it about the school that you liked best?
The first time they saw me pitch was over the summer. I was playing for my (American) Legion team and Coach (Nate) Yeskie from Oregon State was there to watch the other pitcher, and I ended up starting that game and I had like 17 strikeouts and I just had a really great game for like seven or eight innings. And so Yeskie gave me his business card after that and they wanted to get me up on a visit. So, that’s the first time that they saw me. And what I like about Oregon State is you get the best facilities and the best gear, you get everything there. It’s a neat place.
Who was the other pitcher, do you know?
I honestly don’t know the guy’s name. He’s from Fairfield, but I don’t think he ended up committing to Oregon State.
That’s interesting how that all worked out. You were on the Northern California Area Code Games team this summer. Was that the only major showcase that you attended?
Earlier in the summer—this is how I got noticed for Area Codes—I went to the North-South tryout for the North-South game for Northern California versus Southern California and I pitched pretty good. We each got four batters and I K’d three out of four, and so that’s when Jermaine Clark of the A’s, he invited me to try out for Area Codes.
Nice. What was the Area Code Games like for you?
Area Code Games was probably the best experience with baseball I’ve had so far in my life, because you got to play in front of a lot of scouts, and you got a taste of what it’s like. If I never went to Area Codes, the scout attention that I’m getting now, I’d be a lot, like, more nerve-wracking than it is because of Area Codes.
What would you say are your best attributes as a pitcher?
I like to come hard inside and I like to throw a curveball. I have a pretty good curveball, so those are pretty much my best attributes.
Tell me a little bit more about your pitches. What kind of pitches do you have, and how do you like to use them?
I throw a fastball, curveball and changeup. That’s all I have so far, and I like to throw anywhere. I’ll pitch backwards, I’ll start with a curveball, I’ll start with a fastball or I’ll start with a changeup. It’s whatever our catcher calls. So, that’s pretty much it for setting up batters and stuff.
Where would you say you’re still working to improve?
I’m still working to improve the changeup a little bit. I’ve been working on it a lot more. That’s my main thing.
Who would you say has had the greatest impact on your career as a pitcher?
My high school pitching coach, coach Dusty Decker. He used to play at Pepperdine for college, and he worked with me all last year and he’s helped me get to the spot I’m at now.
Yeah, he’s been keeping me up to date, which is nice. I love it when coaches keep me in the loop on things because we’re out here in North Carolina trying to keep up with everyone in the country. But he’s great about e-mailing me after your games and telling me how you’ve been. He mentioned to me you’ve been up to 95 mph this spring?
Yeah, I think I hit one 95, but my fastball’s mainly 90-92 or 88-92. That’s like my average.
Walk me through your routine between starts, and do you have any special things that you do on days when you pitch?
Well, between starts I’ll just practice with our team and hit and do everything else . . . play outfield. And then on game days I don’t make my bed, that’s kind of a superstition. And then like before the game, I just warm up with my catcher and we do kind of like a lead-up thing, where we just start from like halfway up the mound and work our way up to the mound, just certain exercises and stuff, and that’s pretty much it.
When I was doing a little research on you to get some questions ready, I found an article that you wrote for your school newspaper about the Yuba City baseball hall of fame induction. How long have you been writing for the student newspaper?
So, I started out in a sports medicine class, and that was at the beginning of the semester. But then Oregon State said that I had to get one more core unit, so I had to switch into a creative writing class, which is like our school newspaper class. So, I’ve been writing since last September. I enjoy it. I think it’s pretty fun interviewing people and stuff like that.
Well, I agree. What was the Yuba City baseball hall of fame induction like? Was that fun?
It was cool. It’s like the main old-timers from Yuba City, like the main studs from back in the day and stuff. We held a ceremony for them to like induct them. And we held a dinner and everyone did a speech and they had a peer do a speech about the person. We heard some cool stories and all that.
Today was the first day of games in the NCAA college basketball tournament. Who’s in your Final Four, and who’s going to win it all?
I filled out a bracket and I’m pretty competitive with my family about it. I put Ohio State, Duke, Michigan and Miami, and then I put Miami versus Ohio State and Miami to win it all.