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BCB Interview: First-rounder Eric Arnett

Eric Arnett celebrates with his parents after being drafted by the Brewers (<i><a href="">Newark Advocate</a></i>)
Eric Arnett celebrates with his parents after being drafted by the Brewers (Newark Advocate)
The Brewers made Eric Arnett their first-round pick on Tuesday, taking the big righty from Indiana University 26th overall. You can read more about him in my first day draft recap. He was nice enough to take the time to talk with me this afternoon.

BCB: How's it going?

EA: Pretty good, finally getting a chance to relax now and soak it all in.

BCB: Yeah, it's been a crazy couple days, I imagine. How did you celebrate?

EA: My advisor knew the owner of a local bar in my town, so he had him set everything up and we had about 100 people in there watching the draft, and it was really fun being able to celebrate with all my friends and family and people who have followed me through my career.

BCB: I think I saw a picture from that. Your parents sounded really happy in the article.

EA: Yeah, they’ve been great through this whole process and these last couple weeks.

BCB: So, when did you know the Brewers were going to take you? They were rumored to be on Mike Trout, and he didn't go until the pick before you.

EA: Well, I knew they were interested, and I had a good feeling about going there if I was available. My advisor actually wrote down who he thought I was going to go to earlier that day, and it was the Brewers.

BCB: I heard the Indians were very interested at 15; did you hear from them?

EA: Yeah, it was kinda funny with everyone watching, when it came to their pick everyone let out a big "Awww..." I knew that they were interested, but at that time they had other guys ahead of me on their board.

BCB: You're from Ohio--did you grow up an Indians fan?

EA: Yeah, at a younger age I was, and then they ended up trading everyone so I moved back to a Reds fan.

BCB: We like the Reds all right, but you're going to have to hate the Cubs.

EA: I’m fine with that. [laughs] Yeah, I’m definitely happy with becoming a Brewer.

BCB: I heard you were very impressive at the workout at Miller Park before the draft.

EA: Yeah, I mean it was definitely more of a pitcher’s day with all the hitters still getting used to the wood bats, but I did pretty well, and it was good to get out there and pitch to a couple batters in their stadium.

BCB: Who else was there?

EA: There was a number of guys there, I think 30 pitchers and probably at least another 30 to 40 position players. My teammates Matt Bashore and Evan Crawford were there.

BCB: Bashore went the pick before the Brewers' in the supplemental round.

EA: Yeah, we had a number of players drafted this year. Three before the second round and four inside the top 10 [rounds].

BCB: Yeah, you guys had a pretty good team this year. What do you attribute that success to? Indiana isn't exactly known as a baseball factory.

EA: We came up a little short this year, and we definitely didn’t start off as well as we would’ve liked, but we came together as a team once conference play started, and we started playing like we knew how. A lot of the credit has to go to our preparation this year and how hard we worked before the season.

BCB: What brought you to Indiana to begin with? I would imagine you had some hopes of playing for Ohio State growing up where you did.

EA: Well, I really didn’t know until the end of my senior year in high school that I was going to play just baseball. In high school, I was more of a football recruit, and when people talked me into focusing on baseball, Indiana was the first team to contact me again, and I ended up committing the day of my visit.

BCB: What caused the switch from football to baseball?

EA: Well, I think it was people talking to me and telling me I had a much better shot in baseball, and I think I knew that too, but once the pro scouts started coming to some high school games I knew baseball is what I should do.

BCB: I hear you're not a bad basketball player either.

EA: Well, that’s definitely the worst of the three sports I played, but this year I was able to play for IU and help Coach and the team out a little. Becuase of the scholarship situation, I wasn’t able to play in a game, but I was still able to dress and travel with the team.

BCB: Yeah, I hear Tom Crean put in a good word for you with Doug Melvin.

EA: Yeah, he’s been great, and I appreciate everything he’s done for me. He knows a lot of important people, and he’s been great with letting teams know about me, and I’m thankful for it.

BCB: Coming out of high school, did you get any consideration from any teams in the draft?

EA: Yeah, I talked to a few teams, the Mariners, White Sox, Twins, and a few others, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be a high pick coming out of high school.

BCB: What was your stuff like back then?

EA: I was just a power fastball pitcher. I threw in the low 90s, and my slider wasn’t as good, but after three years in college I was able to learn a lot. My mechanics got much better, and my slider and other pitches got a whole lot better.

BCB: A lot has been made of the fact that you "came out of nowhere" this year after pitching sporadically your first two years. What do you make of that?

EA: Well, this year I definitely became more consistent. My first two years, I had some success, but never became a complete pitcher. This year I was able to build confidence and my stuff improved, and I think my preparation and work ethic really became a huge factor coming into this year.

BCB: So basically you just took it a bit more seriously this year?

EA: I guess you could say that. This year I definitely wanted to show what I was capable of, and this possibly being my last year, I knew this may be my last shot.

BCB: It sounds like you're pretty eager to sign and get your career going. What's the status of that?

EA: Hopefully we can work out a deal here in the next couple days. I’m meeting with the local area scout tomorrow, and we may have things worked out by then. I’m looking forward to getting out there and starting my career as soon as possible.

BCB: I heard 1.2 million, is that right?

EA: Well, I came into the draft looking just for a fair contract. I’m just looking for slot money, and I hear that’s about what slot is this year, after they went down about 10% from last year.

BCB: That dastardly Bud Selig.

EA: [laughs]

BCB: Something I've been curious about: What do you think is the difference between a guy like you or Drew Storen, who signed immediately as the 10th pick, and the Boras guys?

EA: Well, I think that is one of the things that helped me and Drew out this year. We came in being very signable, whereas some of the other guys may have slipped a little just for that reason.

BCB: Did Boras approach you at all?

EA: Nope.

BCB: So the strategy of saying you wanted X amount of money and then maybe falling out of the first couple rounds didn't interest you?

EA: No, not really. I mean, the signing bonus is great, but the real money is in the Major Leagues, and the sooner you’re able to get signed and play, the faster you can work your way up.

BCB: I think I speak for most baseball fans when I say that attitude is much appreciated. So once you sign, what's in store for you?

EA: If everything works out as planned, I’ll be signed before the weekend and be able to go up to Milwaukee this weekend, meet the coaches and the Brewers organization, and then go out to Montana for a little bit in Rookie ball and then hopefully be in Single-A before the summer is over.

BCB: It sounds like the team wanted to limit your workload a little bit.

EA: Yeah, I heard that, but I think if I’m still feeling good and able to pitch I sure want to be out there. But I think they may have me on a low pitch count, at least for the rest of the summer.

BCB: Have they said anything about your mechanics? It seemed like scouting reports were split on them. Some people said you landed really hard on your front leg.

EA: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure there are a few things they’ll want to work on, and hopefully I can pick everything up pretty quick and be better for it. The one thing I know I’ll definitely be working on is perfecting my changeup and splitter.

BCB: I didn't even know you threw a splitter. Did you throw that in college?

EA: Yeah, I haven’t had to throw much other than my fastball and slider this year, but last year I started throwing a split, and at times it’s pretty good. Just needs to be more consistent.

BCB: What kind of a changeup grip do you use?

EA: It’s just a three-finger grip with a finger on each seam.

BCB: Is that pretty good sometimes too?

EA: Yeah, I had a lot of success with it last year, but this year I really haven’t thrown it too much.

BCB: It seems kind of counterintuitive that moving to a more dedicated starter's role, you only needed half as many pitches.

EA: Yeah, and I know that to pitch well at the next level I’m not going to be able to get by with just two pitches as a starter.

BCB: Did your fastball and slider take that big of a step up, or were you just more tinkering with your stuff last year?

EA: Well I definitely added a couple more miles per hour on the fastball, and I really improved my slider this fall.

BCB: Sometimes teams will tell pitchers they can't throw their best pitch in the low minors to make them work on improving other pitches; do you see the Brewers doing anything like that with you? Making you work off the fastball and changeup instead of throwing the slider?

EA: Well, I don’t know what plans they have for me right now. I’ll probably know more when I get down there and start playing again.

BCB: [laughs] Fair enough, I'll stop asking you to read their minds. So outside of baseball, what do you like to do?

EA: Pretty outgoing person. I like hanging out with friends, basketball, football, fishing, and video games.

BCB: Guitar Hero?

EA: No, I’m terrible at that. [laughs] More of a Call of Duty and sports games kinda guy.

BCB: That's good, we don't want you to go all Joel Zumaya on us.

EA: [laughs] Yeah.

BCB: Okay, so I have to ask you about something. Naturally, once you were drafted, we googled you and whatnot, and I think I found the best scouting report ever. It's like...translated from a foreign language to English, or something. [reading]

EA: [laughs]

BCB: You really can't sum up the Brewers taking you any better than "It was a great selection of awesome", can you?

EA: [laughs] I really don’t think I can.

BCB: And it's hard to argue with statements like "Today is." Today indeed is.

EA: [laughs] Yeah.

BCB: And if you want baseball in a microcosm, it's "96 MPH fast ball, the BIGS."

EA: [laughs] Well hopefully I can add to that. And I hope they’re right.

BCB: Well, I hope you're "arm enough to stay healthy" and that you have a great career. Is there anything else you want Brewers fans to know about you?

EA: Well, I don’t know how much they know about me or how much any of them have seen me, but hopefully I get a chance to go out to their Single-A team in Wisconsin and show them what they got. I was honored by all the Milwaukee fans that already added me on Facebook, and hopefully I can get out there soon and don’t disappoint them.

BCB: Thanks so much for talking the time to talk; we really appreciate it. We hope to see you in Milwaukee soon.

EA: Sounds good, and thanks for talking with me.