In the 18th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected right hander Gentry Fortuno out of Charles Flanagan High School in Florida. Fortuno dominated opponents throughout his four-year varsity career: a 35-5 record with a 1.06 ERA in 257 innings pitched, striking out 299 batters while walking just 36. Not the sort of numbers you'd typically expect from a late round pick.
I was immediately intrigued by Fortuno's illustrious track record after the Brewers drafted him and sought out the opportunity to interview him twice while I was writing for Reviewing the Brew. Despite being disappointed about having to wait until the third day of the draft to get selected, Fortuno chose to forgo his college commitment in order to sign with the Brewers and begin his professional career.
Gentry debuted in the rookie-level Arizona League as a 17 year old last summer and experienced immediate success. In 13 games (7 starts), he threw 33.1 innings and allowed just a 1.89 ERA. He doesn't throw tremendously hard, usually topping out in the 90 MPH range on his fastball, but throws an array of breaking pitches and has excellent control for his age. He walked just 3.1% of batters during his AZL stint and induced ground balls against 60.2% of opposing hitters. To put a comp on him his ground ball/command profile on the mound is reminiscent of Zach Davies.
Since I've jumped ship to BCB, I wanted to introduce the faithful readers here to Gentry. I had the opportunity a short time ago to catch up with the recently-turned-18 year old (in September) about his offseason experiences and how his first professional spring training is going.
Kyle Lesniewski: How was your first offseason?
Gentry Fortuno: It started with Fall Instructional League which lasted until the middle of October. There they had me work a lot on getting the foundation for my changeup, and throwing it more than I generally would like in order to get more comfortable with it. After that it was nice being back home for a couple months. I took a trip to Colorado and saw snow for the first time in my life, which was pretty awesome. I was outside pretty much everyday and didn't get sick of it one bit, at least for the first two months or so. Then I started to really miss being on the field with my Brewer teammates.
KL: What did you do to stay in shape over the winter?
GF: I was in the weight room working out almost every day working to get stronger. I also did some running to work on increasing my endurance, making sure I don't pass out and stuff. I didn't start throwing until December and then I worked my way into it and once I got going, I was throwing bullpens on Monday-Wednesday-Friday.
KL: How much contact did you have with the Brewers over the winter? Did their coaches give you anything specific they wanted you to work on?
GF: Yes, before we left for the season they gave everyone a personalized sheet of goals that they wanted that player to specifically work on over the winter. Mine was to work on my lower-half agility and to sharpen the break on my curveball, so I worked hard at that during the offseason.
KL: You reported for early minor league camp on February 13th. How many other players are there?
GF: There are about 60 guys, I'm glad I was picked for the opportunity to join with the top guys in the system and I'm taking every chance they'll offer me.
KL: How has your first professional spring training been so far? What's a typical day like for you guys?
GF: Usually we wake up around 6 am and head over the the field right away. We have breakfast there and then do some stretching and light cardio to warm up. Typically around 8:30 we start getting down to our regular work for the day, whether it's bullpens of PFPs or whatever else we may have scheduled. We normally get home around one-ish in the afternoon. They usually wear us out; I have been dead beat tired everyday and it's only been the first week!
KL: Where do they put you guys up at? Do the Brewers provide meals and stuff to make sure you are getting the proper nutrition?
GF: Yes, they do provide great meal choices for us. They always recommend the healthiest of the healthy. They have us stay in apartments, they're really cozy. Two bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room, balcony, washer/dryer included, and the beds are really comfortable after a long day of working out. It's great.
I share the apartment with Trent Clark and George Iskenderian. Trent and I (teammates in Arizona last summer) share a room since we get along really well. During our downtime sometimes we'll go out to eat, but usually just try to relax or nap. We play Call of Duty. Sometimes we'll go golfing, but I'm horrible at golf.
KL: Do you have any idea where you might be assigned to this year? Or do you hope to get assigned somewhere?
GF: I'm hoping to get assigned to Wisconsin to get the chance against some tougher competition, but honestly I'm blessed even if I get moved up (to the Pioneer League) and I'll take every opportunity the Brewers will give me.
KL: What're your goals moving forward?
GF: I want to take things one step at a time, take spring training one step at a time. I'm continuing to work to establish myself as someone who is young and with good stuff, someone that people shouldn't take lightly. I have very high expectations for myself.
KL: Thanks for the interview and good luck this spring!
You can follow Gentry Fortuno on Twitter at @FortunoGentry.
I also recommend reading the previous installments in my series of interviews with Gentry Fortuno here:
Interview with Brewers' Draftee Gentry Fortuno
Gentry Fortuno Wraps Up Rookie Season
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs