TigsTown: How does it feel to get a contract signed, and get a pro career under way with the Tigers?
Zach Samuels: It feels good! I'm happy to get the chance. I wasn't drafted, so I almost thought my baseball career was over, and now I get a chance to play for the Tigers, so I'm pretty happy about that.
TT: Were there pretty good indications that you might get drafted, or had the Tigers shown some interest throughout the process, or were you expecting to sneak by the draft and catch on with a team after everything was over?
ZS: I had talked to scouts from the Tigers before the draft. I wasn't really expecting to get drafted or anything.
TT: Did they touch base right after the draft to get the ball rolling or was there a little trepidation over whether things would pan out?
ZS: There was about a week period where I didn't hear from anybody, then a scout called me about a week after the draft, and asked me if I was interested. Of course, I wanted to play.
TT: I can imagine that week was a little nerve wracking.
ZS: Very much so.
TT: How has the experience gone down there in the Gulf Coast League so far?
ZS: It's been good. I just started my first game yesterday and threw three scoreless innings.
TT: In the time you've been on the mound so far, have you seen a big difference in the talent level that you are facing?
ZS: The biggest difference has been going from aluminum bats to wood bats. From my perspective, facing wood bats is a lot better, because you don't get the cheap hits off bad contact as much with wood. The competition so far, has been pretty comparable though.
TT: After two years at UCSB, did you have some goals for yourself as a pro, or were you just looking to come in and do the best you could?
ZS: I didn't really have any individual goals besides just going out and doing the best I could, like you said. I did have some at Santa Barbara, when I got there I wanted to become a starter, and I did that about a third of they way through my senior season.
TT: For those out there that may not be entirely familiar with you, how would you describe yourself as a pitcher?
ZS: My approach on the mound is to have a first objective of good location. I'm not a real high velocity guy, so spotting up with my fastball and getting good movement is important. Being able to throw my off-speed pitches for strikes is also important.
TT: Do you look at yourself as someone that is very aggressive on the mound and looks to attack no matter what, or do you more play off of what the hitter is doing in the box?
ZS: I try to go out there and attack hitters. I can get ground balls with the movement on my fastball, so I'm out there trying to get contact early in the count, keep the pitch count down, and make them hit my pitch.
TT: Looking a bit at your collegiate career, you mentioned that one of your goals was to get into the rotation, but what were some of the highlights while you were there in terms of your performance?
ZS: I'd say my biggest highlight was my second to last start. We were still in the face to make the regional tournament, and it was a must-win game for us against Riverside on a Sunday. I went out there, it was a really windy day at Riverside, and I was able to go out there and pitch six innings, giving up only four or five hits, and I had a couple of big strikeouts with runners on base.
TigsTown would like to thank Zach for taking the time to speak with us, and we wish him the best of luck as he takes to the field trying to replicate his second to last start against Riverside!
As usual, the Tigers went out and found additional arms after the draft, and Samuels has the potential to give the organization quality innings down the line. Check inside to find out how the GCL season has been going, what some of his goals are for this summer, and what some of his collegiate highlights were!
Though Samuels wasn't drafted in June, he still has the potential to contribute on the farm.
Samuels was in the weekend rotation at UCSB.