Prospect Q&A: Ty Weeden

A 19-year-old catcher from Edmond, Oklahoma, Ty Weeden was taken by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2006 draft. A righthanded-hitter with good power, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Weeden was projected to go as high as the second round but fell due to signability concerns. Forgoing a scholarship offer from Arkansas, he signed with the Red Sox in August 2006 and is beginning his professional career this summer with the short-season Lowell Spinners. The younger brother of Brandon Weeden, the Yankees second-round pick in 2002, Weeden hit .353-1-4 over his first six games.

Baseball America: In just over an hour you’™ll be playing your first game of professional baseball. What are you thinking right now?

Ty Weeden: You know, I don’™t think it’™s really hit me yet, because it’™s felt pretty much like a normal day so far. I suppose when they call out the lineups–that’™s when the adrenaline will hit. I haven’™t played in front of a crowd for a long time, and it’™s going to be a good feeling to be out there. I’™m definitely ready.

BA: The pitcher you’™ll be facing tonight, Oneonta’™s Alfredo Figaro, reportedly gets it up there in the mid-90s. What does that mean to you?

TW: Yeah, I heard that he’™s hit 97 (mph), but a fastball is a fastball. I don’™t get intimidated by guys who throw hard. Not that 97 isn’™t good, but you have to look at what his secondary stuff is, too. You can sit on dead red if that’™s all he can throw for strikes. There are little things you can do to key on a good fastball, like getting your front foot out a little early, and I’™ll sit fastball until a pitcher shows me he has something else. Then I adjust from there.

BA: Give us a scouting report on yourself as a hitter.

TW: I’™m more or less gap-to-gap. I’™ll hit home runs now and again, but I don’™t have an approach of going after them because you can get yourself in a hole if you do. You end up waiting for a pitch to drive out of the park instead of attacking pitches you can square up. I have power the other way, so I don’™t have to wait for something I can pull. I also feel that I have a pretty good view of my zone, so I’™m pretty selective at the plate.  

BA: You spent a short time in low Class A Greenville this season, although you didn’™t appear in any games. What was that experience like?

TW: It was fun, and I think it helped me a lot. It’™s so much different from extended (spring training), where there aren’™t any fans. There was a lot more adrenaline and a real baseball-type atmosphere. Even though I didn’™t get to play, I was able to see what it was like, and I also got a chance to talk to Gabe Kapler, who I think is a really good manager.

BA: What is the biggest difference in your game since you signed last August?

TW: My catching, totally. It’™s 100 percent better. I’™ve worked on it a lot with (minor league catching instructor) Rob Leary–everything from blocking to throwing to footwork. It’™s by far what I’™ve improved the most.
BA: Give us a scouting report on your defensive game.

TW: I feel like I have pretty good feet and a good arm. I think I’™m learning to call a decent game, which is something that should come along even more this year as I gain experience. I’™m also getting better at memorizing the strengths of the pitchers I work with, and recognizing hitters’ weaknesses.

BA: You’™re not very familiar with most of your pitchers yet, and have even less knowledge of the hitters around the league. How do you approach calling a game without that information?

TW: You mostly have to just go in with open eyes. You start by looking at where guys are hitting, and go from there. You watch how they react to certain pitches, and you can get an idea from their swing what they’™re looking to do with an at-bat. With the pitchers, it’™s simply a matter of learning what they have and how their ball moves.  

BA: Of the guys you’™ve caught this year, who has the best fastball?

TW: I’™d say it’™s Caleb Clay. He gets it up there 92-93-94 and stays down with pretty decent late movement. He’™s also got that low arm slot.

BA: How about the best breaking pitch?

TW: Jose Capellan’™s curveball is filthy. It starts coming in like a slurve, then it takes off toward the hitter’™s back knee. It’™s really sharp.

BA: Who has the best command, and who has the most deception?

TW: Command would be Joseph Guerra. He really paints the zone. Not with just his fastball, either–he locates everything well. Deception, it’™s probably Felix Ventura. He’™s a small guy, but he kind of surprises you because he gets it up there in the 90s. You see it, and you think, “Is this serious? Where did that come from?”

BA: It’™s often said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. What’™s second?

TW: I’™d probably say hitting a golf ball. It’™s sitting still, but for some reason it’™s hard to square up and hit straight. It’™s weird, because it’™s easy to hit a baseball off a tee. For some reason, it’™s completely different with a golf tee.

BA: What is your history as a sports fan?

TW: I’™ve always loved the Red Sox. As a matter of fact, when my brother was drafted by the Yankees, I was like, “Man, of all the teams, why did it have to be the Yankees?” I had to tell him that it was too bad, but I wouldn’™t be able to root for him anymore. Even after he left their organization (he’s now a quarterback at Oklahoma State), he still roots for them. I don’™t get that. He’™s my brother, but it’™s always going to be the Red Sox for me.

BA: Was your brother a big influence on you as an athlete?

TW: Oh, yeah. I grew up watching him play–not only baseball, but football, too. We were both quarterbacks, although we had different styles. My brother was more of a pocket guy, while I liked to go out there and make things happen and run over people. Throwing is fun, and I have a pretty good arm, but it’s pretty fun to take out your anger and steamroll someone, too. That’™s how I played the game.