Italiano is working on his secondary pitches.
The Oakland A’s surprised a lot of people when they selected Craig Italiano, a hard-throwing pitcher out of Flower Mound High School, in the second round of last year’s draft. Italiano has not disappointed during his first few months in the A’s organization. He was sent to Kane County to start the season and his 98 MPH fastball has already led to 18 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. Contributing writer and BaseballEvolution.com columnist Keith Glab recently caught up with the young right-hander.
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Keith Glab: Were you surprised at all to be drafted by the Oakland A’s, considering their policy of not drafting too many high school pitchers over the past few seasons?
Craig Italiano: Very because I only really filled out a questionnaire for them. They never called me and I had never shook hands with their scout or anything. I just filled out a questionnaire and that was about it. Draft day, you know, I got a phone call and I was pretty surprised.
Keith Glab: What was the questionnaire? Was it like a psychological profile or something like that?
Craig Italiano: No, no. Just a simple questionnaire, like family names, your name, birth date, stuff like that. It was a pretty general questionnaire.
Keith Glab: Do you have any guesses as to what set you apart from some of the other guys that they tend to shy away from?
Craig Italiano: No, not really. I’m glad they picked me because I couldn’t be happier, but I don’t really know why me. But I’m glad.
Keith Glab: So was it a pretty easy decision to sign with the A’s instead of going to college?
Craig Italiano: Not at first, but it became an easy decision. I had a pretty good scholarship from a good school (Texas Christian University).
Keith Glab: You had a lot of great pitchers in your high school, didn’t you?
Craig Italiano: Yeah, we had three guys go in the top-ten rounds. Two second rounders and a ninth rounder, so we had a pretty good team.
Keith Glab: So did that engender a lot of competition between you guys?
Craig Italiano: I think there was. We didn’t say a lot about it, but we knew that there was some competition between all three of us. We never really talked like that, we more showed it out on the field.
Keith Glab: How much have you learned since high school?
Craig Italiano: Oh, a ton. It’s unbelievable. It was overwhelming at first in Rookie ball – just overwhelming all the information I got and then I got a lot of information in Instructs. It was nice having the off-season to let it all soak in a little bit. I learned a ton and I’m still learning everyday.
Keith Glab: You have a real hard fastball. Can you tell me about some of your secondary pitches?
Craig Italiano: I’m working on a change-up right now. It’s looking pretty good. And I’ve kind of got like a curve slash slider that is kind of slurvy right now. I want to get it either one way or the other, but if I can get it over for strikes, I should be in good shape. I’ve got a two-seam working, too, that I’m working on.
Keith Glab: Can you throw it over for strikes?
Craig Italiano: Starting to. It moves quite a bit and I haven’t been able to control it so I’m trying to get it to run back low in the strike zone.
Keith Glab: Do you approach lefties different than righties?
Craig Italiano: Sometimes 0-2, you know, you might throw a two-seam 0-2 [to a lefty] to get the ball outside for a strike, but generally you treat them the same way as righties.
Keith Glab: What else are you looking to improve on, besides the secondary pitches?
Craig Italiano: Getting late in the games. I haven’t gotten through the fifth inning yet successfully. I want to get to where I am in the sixth inning, seventh inning. I want to work deeper into the games.
Keith Glab: Are you on a strict pitch count?
Craig Italiano: I’m on a pitch count, yeah, but I want to be more effective with my pitches so that I’ll be where they’ll let me get into the sixth or seventh innings. I’ve got to be more efficient with each pitch so that I can get a weak ground ball or let them line-out to somebody because we have nine gloves out there.
Keith Glab: Do you feel that you go for the strikeouts a little bit?
Craig Italiano: I tend to, yeah. I guess that it is just my nature.
Look for more interviews with Kane County Cougars from Keith in the coming days…
Keith Glab is a contributing writer to the Scout.com network. His work can also be found at FutureBacks.com, a sister publication to OaklandClubhouse.com. Glab is a regular columnist and editor of BaseballEvolution.com, a website dedicated to covering Major League Baseball.