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.
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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are you still 6’4”, 200 lbs?
Bobby Wahl: Yeah, I’m about there right now. I lost a little bit of weight because I got the flu, so I’m about 190-195 lbs right now.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you play any other sports besides baseball?
Bobby Wahl: Yeah, I used to play football and basketball in high school, but I dropped them after my sophomore year just to kind of focus on baseball. My dad was a big part in that, and he helped me realize that baseball was probably going to be the main sport in my future.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So if it wasn’t about your future, which one would you enjoy the most?
Bobby Wahl: Oh, definitely baseball. I’ve been playing baseball for my entire life, and I’ve always been a pitcher. I just played football to stay in shape and everything, and it was a lot of fun, but you know, I’ve got to go with my sport, and that’s baseball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it that you knew that you were pretty good at baseball?
Bobby Wahl: You know, I’ve always been pretty good at baseball, but I didn’t really start to stand out until probably the end of my sophomore year when I started throwing a lot harder. I started going to bigger showcases, gained about 3-4 MPH on my fastball, and everything started off from there.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember the first time you hit 90?
Bobby Wahl: Oh man, it was actually right after my sophomore year up at a UVA camp. I didn’t know it had happened – I felt like I threw pretty well, but then one of the UVA scouts came up to me and said “you know, you hit 90 MPH.” I was like, “wow, really?!” I was pretty hyped up about it, so it was cool.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When did you start going on the showcase circuit?
Bobby Wahl: After my sophomore year. My pitching coach got me a lot of other coaches looking at me, and after they saw me throw a few times they got me on some of the elite teams, I guess you could call them. That’s when the showcase circuit started for me, and all the stuff with Perfect Game.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is it like being in high school, yet having to travel around the country to do things outside of academics?
Bobby Wahl: I think it’s so cool. I feel like I’m extremely blessed with the opportunity, and when you think about it it’s crazy that you’re able to go all over the country just to throw a baseball! I think it’s amazing.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You must be pretty excited about college and going to Ole Miss. What is it specifically that drew you to them?
Bobby Wahl: Yes, sir. I’d been to a few schools, mostly ACC schools, and I got a few offers. Ole Miss started talking to me after Jupiter, going into my junior year. They asked me to come down on a visit, and I went down there in January – it was about 55 degrees, and being from Virginia I hate the cold, so that was nice. All the coaches were great, and the atmosphere is perfect for me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What other schools were you considering?
Bobby Wahl: UVA, Virginia Tech, and Clemson.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft?
Bobby Wahl: I’m just waiting for the spring season to come here, I’m excited for it with the opportunity I have, and I feel very blessed just to have some of the pro teams talking to me. Just you calling me is even a huge deal for me [laughs], so it’s crazy, and a very big deal for me. I try not to think about it and focus on competing for a state championship, and I’m just really excited for it all to unwind, you know?
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Would playing professionally out of high school be something you were interested in if the contract terms were right?
Bobby Wahl: Of course, if all the stars aligned, if you wanted to put it that way - if everything is perfect and everything is right. Since I was five years old playing pro baseball has been my dream, and I want to play the highest level of baseball that I possibly can, so if that opportunity comes, and it’s the right one, then I want to play professional baseball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s your dream when you think about playing professionally?
Bobby Wahl: Oh man, I’m sure it’s similar to a lot of the guys you interview, but to come out of the bullpen from getting loose, lights and cameras are flashing…It’s one of those images you get in your dreams. Whenever I think about it it’s insane, just a crazy feeling to get.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?
Bobby Wahl: About 25.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Any contact from the Yankees?
Bobby Wahl: Yes, sir, we had an in-home with them.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: As a pitcher tell me about your arsenal.
Bobby Wahl: Every pitch I throw comes out of a three-quarters armslot for the most part. Right now I’m throwing a four-seam fastball, its sitting in the low 90s, and I’ve gotten up to 94 MPH. My second pitch is a slider, that’s sitting in the low 80s right now, and it’s probably my most effective offspeed pitch I have right now. I try to throw that as a hard slider because I think that late, quick break is so effective and one of the hardest pitches to hit. I’ve got a circle change and it’s sitting in the low 80s, pretty much the same speed as my slider. I’ve been working really hard on that in the offseason because a changeup is a huge pitch for the higher leagues, but it’s going to be hard to throw in high school because you don’t want to slow down some of those guys’ bats. I’m getting some fade on it right now to lefties, but I’m trying to work on it to get a little more. I’m working on a cutter also – I look up to Mariano Rivera, and I’d love to learn his cutter somehow, some way. I don’t know if it’s going to happen though [laughs].
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s your personality on the field?
Bobby Wahl: I’m very calm and collected. I’m very disciplined and I really stress that with myself. I try not to let my emotions go, but inside I’ve got that little fire burning – I want to get everybody out, I want to strike everybody out, and I hate losing.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What team were you a fan of growing up?
Bobby Wahl: Orioles - watched my boy Cal play.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the players that you look up to in terms of their skills or the way they play?
Bobby Wahl: Cal Ripken or Derek Jeter, they both play the game right, and they’re great guys to look up to both on and off the field.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could pay $100 for the opportunity to throw any Major League pitcher’s stuff for an hour, who would be getting that C-note?
Bobby Wahl: [no hesitation at all] Pedro Martinez in 1999. He was nasty. If you look at his game by game track, some of those games were 15 Ks, 12 Ks, 14Ks, it was just game after game dominance. He went out there every single game, went hard, and made fools look silly, so that’s the stuff I would like to have.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal any pitch from any other pitcher in your draft class, whose would it be and why?
Bobby Wahl: I’m probably going to go with Jameson Taillon’s power curveball. I was watching it from the side and that thing just looked unhittable to me, I don’t even know how people can touch it, and I have no idea how he throws it - it comes in 84-86 MPH! But yeah, he is nasty, man.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was the Under Armour game like for you?
Bobby Wahl: Oh, I felt very blessed to be able to pitch in Wrigley, get all the Under Armour stuff, and bond with those guys. Those guys that I played with are going to be top round draft picks, and it’s cool to interact with guys that are so good at baseball. We were all so similar, it was kind of funny because we all liked having a good time, so it was a lot of fun for me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who’s the toughest hitter you’ve faced?
Bobby Wahl: I’ve got to go with Garin Cecchini. I faced him second in the Under Armour game and he fought off every pitch I had – it was a battle.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you gotten any comparisons from scouts?
Bobby Wahl: Some of the scouts say I remind them of Tim Hudson from the A’s and the Braves. It wasn’t a stuff comparison, but my presence, mechanics, and that stuff. That’s the only one I’ve heard.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s the biggest thing you want to focus on going into this season?
Bobby Wahl: As a team, we lost a lot of seniors from last year when we went to the state semi-finals. After losing that game it was the worst feeling in the world, and I hope these guys coming up can help get us as far as last year, but I want a state ring on my finger after this year. For me, I want to take it one pitch at a time, focus on that one pitch and make it the best pitch possible. I just want to stay healthy and put my team in a situation to win every game.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So school is obviously first, baseball is second, what’s third on your list?
Bobby Wahl: I always wanted to be a teacher, teach at the local high school, and coach baseball or be around baseball – anything to do with baseball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Bobby Wahl: I would probably say the semi-final game for our region. It was a 1-1 ballgame and we went to extra innings, a nine-inning game, and I pitched the whole thing. It was one of those games where the other pitcher was dealing, I was dealing, back and forth, and I had to keep that fire going to put my team in a situation to win. Finally in the bottom of the ninth our centerfielder hit a game-winning double. That was crazy and intense.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, what’s this whole process like for you as a 17 year old high school senior?
Bobby Wahl: You know, it’s incredible. I can’t even begin to describe it. Everything has just fallen into place for me and I’m very thankful and feel very blessed for that. God has a reason for it all, he’s given me this great talent, and I’ve got to thank him for that.