There are many factors that go into a draft pick’s decision to sign if he has college eligibility remaining. Some of those factors include the value of finishing a college degree as opposed to starting a career one year earlier, getting a chance to play in the College World Series one more time, etc. Oakland A’s 11th round pick Jason Fernandez is weighing all of those options right now.
Jason Fernandez was picked in the 11th round of the recently completed 2006 amateur draft after compiling a huge season for the Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns. Fernandez came to Louisiana-Lafayette after two seasons at Delgado Junior College. The 21-year old went 9-2 in 14 starts for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He had a 2.86 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 91.1 innings pitched.
We caught up with Fernandez on Friday, June 9 – three days after he was selected in the draft – to get his feelings on being drafted, whether or not he’ll sign, information on his pitching repertoire and more…
OaklandClubhouse: What was it like to have your name called in the draft?
Jason Fernandez: It was exhilarating. It’s something you wait for your entire life and it was really hard to believe it was actually happening.
OC: Do you think you are likely to sign?
JF: I definitely have a tough decision to make. I have a lot of options to weigh before I decide whether or not to sign. If I come back to school next year, I’ll be that much closer to earning my college degree and I am only three semesters short right now. I also know that if I sign, I might regret not having pitched in my senior season. So it is a tough choice. I definitely believe physically that I am ready to pitch professionally and I think I can make that jump if I do decide to sign.
OC: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher?
JF: I consider myself a bulldog on the mound. I like to really attack the hitters. I come after each hitter hard. I like to throw my fastball hard, my curveball hard, even my slider hard. I use a fast arm action to come after the hitters.
OC: You had a lot of strikeouts this season. Do you try to strikeout hitters?
JF: Yeah, I definitely try to strike everyone out. [laughs] That is something that can get me in trouble at times because sometimes I try too much for the strikeout when I really should be pitching more for a quick out in that situation. That is something that I have worked on this season with my coach. He has talked to me a lot about when there are runners on-base, taking a step off the mound, taking a deep breath and trying to get one or two outs with one pitch rather than using five or six pitches to get one out.
OC: You threw a lot of innings this season. How does your arm feel right now?
JF: I feel great actually. I’m really upset right now that I’m not pitching on ESPN at the College World Series because my arm feels really great.
OC: You guys just missed out on being in the College World Series, right?
JF: Honestly, I think we got screwed. The two teams that they selected [for the College World Series] from our conference, we beat them. One of the teams we beat two days before the selection committee made their decision. That is another reason why I may consider coming back for my senior season. I feel like we have some unfinished business.
OC: What type of pitches do you throw?
JF: I throw a two-seamer and a four-seamer [fastballs], a slider, change-up and curveball.
OC: Are any of the pitches ones that you just started working on?
JF: Actually I was a position player in high school and I only moved to being a pitcher in junior college, so all of my pitches are kind of new to me. I learn something different about pitching every year, it seems like.
OC: What positions did you play in high school?
JF: I was a third baseman and a shortstop in high school.
OC: Do you miss playing in the field?
JF: I definitely miss it. That is the hardest thing about pitching, that you have to wait six days or so to get back on the field. I love being out there every day.
OC: Did you always know that you were going to be a professional baseball player or are you better now then you would have imagined?
JF: In high school, you always dream of making it, but, of course, I thought back then that I’d make it as a position player. It became clear that the way I was going to make it was as a pitcher, though. After I pitched my freshman season and saw some good results, I began to really think that this was a possibility.
You never want to say that you ever thought you weren’t good enough to make it, but it is still surprising in some respects. You never really know with the craziness of the draft what is going to happen. It was exciting.
OC: Did you have scouts at all of your starts this season?
JF: I had probably two or three scouts at every start.
OC: Did you know that the A’s were interested in you before the draft?
JF: The A’s sent me a letter in the mail asking me for some basic information, I think, a few months ago, so I guess I knew that there was some interest there.
OC: Have you discussed any specifics with the A’s area scout yet?
JF: I actually have an appointment to meet with the A’s area scout in about an hour, so we’ll see how it all goes.