The Kansas City Royals are hoping that several of their starting pitching prospects eventually break through at the Major League level in the same way that many of their position prospects are working out. Brooks Pounders was a second round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2009 MLB Draft and came over in an offseason trade this past winter. Now with Kane County, the Roayls are converting Pounders to a starting role in hopes of developing another prospect.
Here Pounders speaks with us about the transition back to starting and the move that brought him over from Pittsburgh.
SBNKC: With the recent MLB Draft, does that bring up your own draft experience?
Brooks Pounders: Yeah, it does. I went in not expecting much and then when I got the call it was pretty awesome. I had no idea I was going to Pittsburgh. It was one of the teams I talked to the least, but other than that, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to be a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for three years and then I got traded. I can't really explain how it felt to be honest with you. It was just an honor.
How many teams do you talk to in that process? Are you in contact with most Major League teams?
In the few months leading up to the draft, the scouts from my area are coming in and doing in-home visits. Pittsburgh and mostly every team came in and did a home visit with me. Then I was actually on my last day of school for finals on draft day. I got home, came to turn the TV on and just watched the first three rounds.
The second round was actually only on the Internet on a live stream, and I guess I didn't refresh it. I had a bunch of people calling and blowing up my phone before I even heard my name announced. It was actually a really good experience for me. Glad I got to go through it. I was very fortunate to be drafted where I was, and I can't thank Pittsburgh enough. But I'm ready to continue my career with Kansas City now.
Glad you brought up the move between organizations, because that's still really recent. How did you learn about the trade to KC?
I was actually in Bradenton, Florida for a winter mini-camp with Pittsburgh, and I got the call around midnight Florida time from our farm director. He told me I'd been traded to the Kansas City Royals. I was on the phone about 30 minutes later with Scott Sharp, director of player development with Kansas City. The next morning at 7:00am, I was on a flight to the Royals spring training complex in Arizona.
That had to be a weird mix of emotions, I'm sure.
Oh, it was. I was definitely excited. It was a clean start and fresh slate with a new team. I didn't really understand why I was being traded at first, but it's worked out for the best. I'm happy where I'm at and I'm excited to be a Royal.
Tell us about life with the Royals organization. This is your first season, so have you noticed a big change in organizational philosophy?
Every organization does things differently than the others, but I really like Kansas City. All of the coordinators are real professional. I get to play long toss again. That's really helped me in the transition from the bullpen to starting again. Other than that, it's pretty similar. They're both good organizations to be a part of in the minor leagues. You're going to get your work in with them.
Are you excited to start again?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. When I got to the Royals, they told me they wanted me to start. I like starting a lot better. You get into that routine every fifth day. Coming out of the bullpen, you don't know when you're going to pitch. You have to be ready to go every night.
How's life with Kane County?
It's definitely a great place to play. You have a great fan base. For a low-A stadium, it's a really nice place to play. It's in a good city with stuff to do around here. But just like every other league in the minor leagues, you'll have places you go to that are older or not as well-kept, but they do a great job here. I have no complaints so far. Love the city, love the field.
What's the main emphasis for you at this point in your development? Is it all about endurance and developing the starting routine again?
Yeah, it's really just about getting used to starting again. There's always things to continue to work on, but that's the main thing. It's also about gaining better command with the fastball and getting hitters to make early contact instead of going deep into counts. Other than that, pitching is pitching. You have to get guys out either way.
Are you on a special pitch count coming back into that starter role?
Yeah all of our guys are on a pitch count. A special count for me? No. We're all about 100 to 115 pitches. That's with every starter in the minor leagues with Kansas City until you move up. As you go higher, you get into 120 pitches. Anything more than that is probably a bit too much.
One more question for you. You're with a great organization in terms of having an opportunity to play for a team with a lot of promise yet a need for starting pitching. You have any reflections on that?
Yeah, it's definitely a great place to be. You see all of the young guys get called up so far this year, and you see it's an awesome place to be. They do a great job of moving young guys up and giving them opportunities. There's going to be a lot more to come, so anytime you can get a chance with an organization that does need starting pitching and pitching in general, it's a great place to be. I have no complaints whatsoever.
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