Feb. 13, 2014

CBI Conference USA Preview


Nine Innings with ECU's Drew Reynolds

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com @collbaseball


After not seeing the mound during his freshman year, East Carolina senior Drew Reynolds (left) has racked up 24 saves over the past two years in becoming one of the top closers in the country.


To make matters worse for Pirates opponents, Reynolds also wields one of ECU’s best bats, making him one of the top two-way players in the nation. Primarily used as a designated hitter, Reynolds hit .322 with 13 doubles, 30 runs and 22 RBI for the Pirates in 2013.


This season, Reynolds is expected to start at second base in addition to closing games for Billy Godwin’s Pirates, who went 14-10 in Conference USA and 31-26 last year. He recently took time to answer some questions from CBI.


First Inning – After not pitching as a freshman, did anything change that enabled you to become such a force out of the bullpen?

Not really, I just spent a lot of time working with our pitching coach Dan Roszel on understanding my body control and refining my delivery so that I could develop more consistency. 


Second Inning – Was it your plan to be a two-way player at ECU coming out of high school?

I committed as a middle infielder after my junior year of high school. It wasn't until my senior season of high school that I feel like I came into my own on the mound, so it became something that the coaches wanted to flirt with when I got to ECU. I hadn’t planned on pitching in college, but I was more than willing to do whatever the coaches thought would give our team a better chance to win.


Third Inning – Describe the challenges being a two-way player presents? Is it tougher to get your hitting/defensive reps or your pitching reps?

It’s definitely tougher to get my pitching reps. I spend most of my time working with position players at practice, so I always have to find a time to sneak down and get my bullpen in while I’m not hitting or on defense.


Fourth Inning – Playing two ways, do you prepare your arm for the season any different from any other position player or pitcher?

Not significantly different. The main thing I have to be conscious of is to just be smart, and to not over-do it on certain days. On days I throw a bullpen, I typically don’t make as many throws in the infield. On days that aren’t supposed to be heavy throwing as a pitcher, I may mix in more throws in the infield instead of all the prep work that goes along with being a pitcher. Not being able to focus on solely one over the other is difficult, but my coaches do a very good job in managing my arm and making sure I am available for the games.


Fifth Inning – If you had to give up pitching or hitting, which one would you give up? Why?

I honestly don't know. I’ve been doing both since I started playing baseball. Being a position player was my first love, but having the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen at the collegiate level for such a great program like ECU has caused me to develop a genuine love for doing that as well. I would miss doing either one of them, but just being able to compete and play the game of baseball, regardless of my role, is more than enough for me.


Sixth Inning – You're expected to start at second after primarily DH-ing last year. How does that change your overall approach and specifically your approach as a pitcher? How do you conserve your arm?

It won't change it much. The main difference will be that I may have to go warm-up in the bullpen a little earlier in the game since I won't have the extra half inning to go throw, or I may make some throws with one of the infielders in between innings. Luckily I’ve done this many times in my lifetime heading back to my high school days so I am pretty familiar with it. As for conserving my arm, I may not take infield/outfield on certain days to try and limit the amount of throws I make.


Seventh Inning – Describe yourself as a hitter.

I like to think of myself as a disciplined hitter. I feel like my knowledge of the game and the mental side of it are my strengths. I’m a son of a coach and a huge baseball junkie so during a game I try to pay attention to the pitcher and apply knowledge I already have to my at-bats in order to try and put myself in the best possible situation to have success.


Eighth Inning – Describe yourself as a pitcher.

As a pitcher I feel like the best thing that describes me is that I'm a competitor. I love being out on the mound with the game on the line and it being up to me to decide it. I mix my arm slots up and throw from both overtop and sidearm. As a hitter I know how difficult it is just focusing on one arm slot so I feel like mixing mine up is a bit of a wrinkle I can throw at hitters that can mess their comfort level up. I'm not the most overpowering closer in the country, but I try and pride myself on being the most competitive.


Ninth Inning – What do the Pirates have to do to get back to Regionals?

For the Pirates to make it back to the postseason, we just have to play clean, consistent baseball. We have a ton of ability on both the staff and in the position player group. It's just a matter of being consistent and executing at a high level on a day-to-day and game-to-game basis.


(photos courtesy of ECU Media Relations)