This interview with SoCal’s Dylan Covey officially completes my transition to PinstripesPlus, a move that I’m extremely excited about and one that I expect to allow me to take the best coverage of MLB draftees to even greater heights. The 2010 draft has a great pool of eligible players that I look forward to helping you, the fans, get to know a bit better. My predraft goal remains what it has always been: to bring you full-length, in-depth interviews with the best draft prospects in the nation, and this first interview goes right to the top. As in years past, you can friend me on Facebook to get notice of when the newest interviews are put up as well as contact me with any questions or comments.
I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2010 has to offer each Sunday and Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Just to start things off – are you still 6’2”, 200 lbs?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, I’m still around there, roughly.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You’ve got a big senior year coming up, when does your season start?
Dylan Covey: Our first game is March 6th. I just threw my first bullpen yesterday after taking a break from throwing all together for a while.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Tell me a little bit about you and sports – we know you play baseball, but are there any others?
Dylan Covey: I used to play football, but I quit after my sophomore year mainly because of baseball, but I also had a couple of concussions. I played safety and backup quarterback.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it that you knew that you were pretty good at baseball?
Dylan Covey: Well, I think I was good in Little League, but I never REALLY stood out. Then when I was a freshman in high school I was good, but my record was 2-6, so I wasn’t great obviously. Sophomore year I started throwing a lot harder, towards the end of the year I hit 94 MPH, and that’s when everything started happening. I went to Jupiter, Florida then, and that’s probably when all the national attention started coming.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember the first time you hit 90 MPH?
Dylan Covey: Yes. It was in between freshman and sophomore year during the summer in Arizona when I was out there for Junior Olympics. It was pretty exciting, you know, “throwing hard,” but it wasn’t a really big deal because you can throw hard, but you can get hit hard, too. You have to still throw strikes and pitch.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is it specifically that led you to commit to the University of San Diego?
Dylan Covey: They went after me pretty early - I committed before my junior year started, so they had showed a lot of interest. When I went down there to visit I took my brother with me, and he’s been there through my whole baseball career so far. We talked about it and he said “I think this is the right thing,” and I thought “if someone else offered me the same thing, would I regret being committed to San Diego?” The answer was no. I love the coaches, I love the atmosphere, the campus is amazing, and they have the best weather in the world, so it seemed like the perfect fit.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What other schools were you considering?
Dylan Covey: I was really interested in USC, UCLA, you know, most of the area D-1 schools here in California.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Your dad flirted with professional baseball, is that correct?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, he was drafted in 1968 by the Mets, but he didn’t sign.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How has that played into how you are approaching your draft experience?
Dylan Covey: Back then it was a lot different because they could draft you and then ask you to finish college. He kind of regrets not signing and didn’t really pursue it. He didn’t really have a relationship with his father, so because of that he has made sure to keep a really good relationship with me. He’s strict with me about making sure I do things right, and he wants to see me succeed where he didn’t. He’s definitely been the main factor in everything I’ve accomplished.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you thought about the draft?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, but right now it’s all surreal, so until it actually happens I don’t think I’m going to understand it. At this point I just feel like I’m a normal kid.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you are drafted, would you consider signing?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, I would have no problem passing up college, but it would definitely have to be the right opportunity.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you retained an advisor?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, his name is Lenny Strelitz, and he’s with Wasserman Media Group.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you think about professional baseball, what do you picture?
Dylan Covey: Well, I know it’s going to be tough, that I’ll be starting in rookie ball, and that it will be a grind – you don’t make that much money starting out. But I’m willing to take that leap to try and get to the top because my goal is to play professional baseball. No matter what, you have to through all of the steps, so I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be exciting.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you heard from all 30 teams at this point?
Dylan Covey: No, I’ve heard from about 20 right now.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you had any contact from the Yankees?
Dylan Covey: Yes, I have.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was it like being selected as an Aflac All-American and then getting to not only pitch at Petco, but to pitch a clean inning?
Dylan Covey: Leading up to the game I had been having shoulder problems throughout the summer because at the end of the season I kind of pitched a lot. I had actually only thrown one bullpen leading up to Aflac, and my arm felt good, so I was just hoping I could throw strikes. So I went in, and I don’t know what happened, but my arm just felt amazing, and since then my arm just didn’t hurt. It was a great experience because they had called me and said they were thinking about putting me on the Aflac team, but they knew I was banged up, and they wanted to know if I would be able to pitch. I said I couldn’t tell them for sure, I didn’t know, and they told me they’d call me back and let me know. When they called back they told me they thought I deserved it and they would put me on the team whether I could throw or not. It was an honor and a relief because I saw that they thought about it and actually cared about my arm and not just putting together an all-star team. It was good experience because everything panned out well.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was Petco like? Was that the first MLB park you’d thrown at?
Dylan Covey: I’ve thrown at the Angels’ stadium a couple of times for the scout-ball team, but Petco was pretty nice.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: As a pitcher tell me about your arsenal.
Dylan Covey: I throw from very straight over the top which gives my fastball a downward plane. I throw a 4-seam fastball that is starting to sit around 92-94 MPH, my 2-seam fastball is about the same but with some more arm-side run. Curve ball is a straight, 12 to 6, up-and-down drop, and it is anywhere from 78 mph to 85 mph. My slider is pretty much the opposite of my curveball, moves side-to-side, and I’ve hit 90 MPH with it, but it’s usually in the high 80s. I’m developing a changeup right now, it’s not great, but it’s not terrible.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What kind of change are you throwing?
Dylan Covey: It’s actually really weird. It’s like a split finger, but I slide all three fingers on one side. My pointer and middle fingers are split, but then I have my pinky and ring finger on the side for stability. I actually saw someone throwing it and I figured I’d try it out and it’s working out pretty good.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your out-pitch?
Dylan Covey: I feel comfortable with my slider, curveball, and fastball for an out, I guess it depends on the count.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your mindset both on and off the mound?
Dylan Covey: Off the mound I’m just a really quiet person – I like to watch people instead of being the center of attention. On the mound I kind of have that quiet demeanor, but inside I’m more…my dad calls it tenacious. It’s a below-the-surface kind of thing. I’m really aggressive, but I don’t show a lot of emotion.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Speaking of the pros, being from the Los Angeles area, who did your root for growing up?
Dylan Covey: Growing up I was a bandwagon fan, I really didn’t have a team, but in the last couple of years I’ve been a fan of the Dodgers.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the players that you look up to in terms of their skills or the way they play?
Dylan Covey: I really like the way Tim Lincecum plays. I like Josh Beckett a lot, his demeanor and the way he pitches.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could have any pitcher’s stuff for a day, whose would you take?
Dylan Covey: Probably Roy Halladay. I think he keeps hitters off-balance more, and better, than anyone in the game.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal any pitch from someone in your draft class, whose would it be?
Dylan Covey: I’d probably steal Deandre Smelter’s split finger. I like the feel of an old-school type pitch arsenal, and a split would be really fun to throw.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you heard scouts say that you remind them of another pitcher?
Dylan Covey: Yeah. I’ve only had that happen a few times, and the one I do remember is Joba Chamberlain, but I don’t remember any others.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I was actually going to ask you that because I think you guys had similar tall and stocky builds. Are you all about using your legs on the mound?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, mainly legs, and I’ve got a good-sized butt, so I generate a lot of power from my lower body. (laughs)
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s the biggest thing you want to focus on going into this season, both for your team and as an individual?
Dylan Covey: As a team we didn’t lose that many seniors last year, but the one we did lose had a lot of leadership qualities, so we’re going to have to find people to be our sparkplugs. Individually I’m mainly looking to find command of all my pitches and focus on throwing strikes this year.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you have any superstitions?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, during the playoffs our whole team would go to this sandwich shack pretty close to our school, and we’d all eat there before every playoff game. That was our team ritual.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Did it work?
Dylan Covey: Yeah, we won the championship, so we’re going to do it again this year!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, what’s this whole process like for you, being 18 years old yet having such amazing opportunities so close?
Dylan Covey: It’s nice. Talking with people at school, some of them don’t even know they’re going to do next year, but I kind of have it all laid out. At the very least I’m going to San Diego and playing baseball, and if I get drafted that’s great. It’s just been really nice having these options pretty much on a platter for me.