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 6’5”, 230 lbs?
Dan Child: Yes, I am.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you always been a big kid? When did you hit your growth spurt?
Dan Child: I was always bigger growing up, but as soon as I hit high school I was about 6’1” freshman year, and then grew a couple of inches a year. I’m probably done growing, but yeah – I’ve always been big.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you play any other sports besides baseball?
Dan Child: I played pretty much every sport I could when I was younger, and when I got to high school I played football freshman year and basketball freshman and sophomore years. I had to give them up though because they conflicted with baseball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What positions did you play in those sports?
Dan Child: I was a tight end for football and a power forward in basketball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When did it hit you that you were pretty good at baseball and could do something with it?
Dan Child: It hit me that I could do something with it my freshman summer. I gained about 10 MPH from my freshman season, and when I hit 90 MPH for the first time I really got excited and thought that I could maybe do something with baseball.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was it that drew you to OSU?
Dan Child: Well, I had heard a lot of great things from Andrew Susac and Danny Harris, who both went to my high school and are playing at OSU now, so that kind of got me looking at them. Then, as soon as I took the visit I was really surprised. I was taken aback at how nice the campus was, how genuine the coaches were, and that, plus the two national championships and winning history, made it seem like a great place to go.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What other schools were in consideration?
Dan Child: The main ones I was considering were UCLA and Stanford.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft?
Dan Child: I try to just focus on my high school season and to work as hard as I can to be as successful, but it’s always in the back of my mind. It’s something that I look forward to, but I try not to focus on it because either way, whether it’s college or the draft, I know that I’ll be in a good spot.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself to think about, when you can’t force it out of your mind, what is your dream?
Dan Child: The first thing I think about is the moment of my debut, just being out there with all those people watching, and thinking about all the great players who have played professional baseball. To get that chance to be a part of everything I’ve watched and loved since I was a little kid – it’d just be a great experience.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?
Dan Child: I’ve probably heard from about 25 teams.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are one of those teams the Yankees?
Dan Child: No, I haven’t heard from them, I’ve never met their area scout.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you give me a detailed description of your arsenal?
Dan Child: Everything starts off with my fastball. I have a two-seam fastball and a four-seam fastball, and I try to keep the usage of them even. My two-seam has a good sinking movement away from lefties and is good for jamming righties, so that’s the main pitch I’ll try to start a batter off with. It comes in in the low 90s, usually around 92 MPH, and the four-seam is usually 2-3 MPH faster on a good day. I have a hard, late-breaking slider that’s usually in the low-to-mid 80s, and that’s my outpitch for sure, I feel most comfortable with that. I’m developing a three-finger changeup that’s in the low 80s and pretty good at times, but I’m still working to get consistent with it. I had started working on it the fall of my sophomore year and then kind of went away from it, but this offseason I’ve tried to make it my big focus so I could add it to my arsenal consistently this year. With the better hitters I’m going to face I’m going to need to have it effective.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you know what your peak velocity has been?
Dan Child: Last year in the playoffs I maxed out at 97 MPH.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s your mindset on the mound?
Dan Child: I try to be really focused on the mound, but I don’t really let people see it when I’m pitching. I just try to make sure I’m focused on each pitch. You’ll see an occasional fistpump because I get excited out there, but I try to keep it under wraps as best I can.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being from NorCal what team were you a fan of growing up?
Dan Child: I’ve always been a Giants fan, I like the A’s too, but the Giants have always been my favorite.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the players that you look up to in terms of their skills or the way they play the game?
Dan Child: Being from around here it’s definitely a lot of fun watching Lincecum pitch; the way he attacks hitters is just really fun to watch. Him and Matt Cain are my favorite pro guys to watch pitch.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could buy an hour’s usage of any pitcher’s stuff for $100, who would be getting that c-note?
Dan Child: I would say Nolan Ryan in his prime. His explosive fastball was awesome, and it would just be a lot of fun to throw that hard.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal any one pitch from anyone else in your draft class, whose pitch would you steal, and why?
Dan Child: I would steal Jameson Taillon’s curveball because it’s got such a huge sudden and sharp downward break and it’s coming in at like 84 MPH. That’s just nasty! I don’t throw a curveball myself, so I’ve always been envious of the guys that can, and that’s why I’d take his curve.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who is the toughest hitter you’ve faced?
Dan Child: Probably Bryce Harper. I had a good nine-pitch battle with him where I struck him out on a full-count slider, and that felt good because he was raking the whole tournament.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What’s the biggest thing you want to focus on as an individual this season?
Dan Child: I want to focus on throwing more strikes and trying to be more efficient as a pitcher, because in the past I’ve just been the guy who comes in for one or two innings to close the door, so I really didn’t have to worry about being pitch-efficient. So I’m trying to be more of a complete pitcher, save my pitches, and become more of a starter than the reliever I was in the past.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So are you just transitioning to a starter’s role now?
Dan Child: My sophomore and junior year I was a reliever because when I got called up we had a lot of upper classmen who were starting. They had me as the closer and it kind of stuck for the last two years because he had a really good team – a lot of D-1 guys. Now that they’re gone I’m back to starting like I did freshman year, but there’s obviously a difference between playing freshman ball and varsity.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What do you like to do outside of baseball?
Dan Child: Outside of baseball I like hanging out with my friends, playing basketball, and tennis. My younger brothers are in little league, so I like helping them out – I try to teach them how to pitch and let them know as much as I can. I also like watching some games whenever I can, and besides doing those things and working out, I really don’t have much of a life outside of baseball to be honest [laughs].
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You’re one of the youngest guys in this draft, only turning 18 at the end of July. What is it like for you dealing with these great opportunities you have in front of you, having the pressure associated with them, and trying to balance that with trying to be a normal teenager?
Dan Child: I feel really lucky to be in the spot that I’m in; I can’t think if a much better spot for a 17 year old kid to be in. If anything, seeing scouts that are there when I pitch only pumps me up a little more, but I honestly just try to keep it out of my head by focusing on the pitch I’m trying to make. At the same time, it’s definitely cool when I see guys back there that have come to watch me. Overall though I’m just a normal guy with my friends and family – I don’t think I’m any different than any other teenager.