Steven Sharpe had 12 saves during the first half.
For the first half of the season, the Kane County Cougars could carry a lead into the ninth inning of ballgames with confidence because Steve Sharpe was waiting to close out the game. The Cougars will have to look somewhere else in the second half, as Sharpe is being promoted to Stockton. Jennifer Harasek caught up with Sharpe during his last weekend with the Cougars.
Coming into this season, Steven Sharpe had spent most of his professional career as a starting pitcher. However, the A’s converted him to a late-inning relief role this season and Sharpe has shined. In 25 appearances for the Cougars this season, he has allowed only 13 hits and 10 walks in 30.2 innings pitched. Sharpe has saved 12 games and posted a 2.64 ERA.
That performance earned Sharpe an All-Star bid and he threw a scoreless inning in the Midwest League All-Star game on Tuesday. It also earned him an early promotion to A-Stockton, where he will be headed on Thursday.
Jennifer Harasek caught-up with Sharpe this past weekend and discussed his role as a reliever, his pitching arsenal and more…
Jennifer Harasek: After being a starter in college, how are you taking to being a reliever? Do you enjoy closing?
Steven Sharpe: It's good, I really like it. You get the chance to play every day instead of sitting around all week. I am enjoying it. I like closing a lot. This is actually the first time I've closed.
I think if you're in the bullpen it's the best thing to do because you know when you are going to throw. You know you have the 9th inning, so I enjoy it a lot.
JH: What pitches are you throwing?
SS: A little bit of everything, mostly fastballs and sliders, but anything to get an out.
JH: What is your best out-pitch?
SS: Slider, definitely.
JH: Do you approach lefties different than righties?
SS: Yeah, I do. Typically with the lefties I'll try to throw some changeups in there, which is a little different for me, I don't throw a lot of changeups. I'll see some good lefties, I like to try and stay away from them and then go in late.
JH: Being from Missouri, does your family get to see you play much?
SS: Every once in awhile, maybe two or three times a year. Actually, my wife travels with me. We live together on the road so she's there for every game, which is nice.
JH: Is there anything you are looking to improve on by the end of the year?
SS: Just consistency. Just continue to stay consistent and stay healthy. Throwing that many days out of the year, I just want to make sure I stay healthy.
JH: How do you feel about being selected for the All-Star team?
SS: It's awesome, it's outstanding. I feel great, this is such a good team. There are some strong teams in this league, but besides Peoria, this [the Cougars] is the best team. To be coming off this team as an all-star is awesome.
JH: Have you made an All-Star roster before?
SS: Yeah, I did my first year in short season, but as a starter so this is different. I'm excited.
JH: How do you pass the time on road trips?
SS: We play some chess, Scrabble, Scattergories. We do kind of play some intellectual games on this team. There are some guys that like to do competitive stuff – cards, a lot of that. It's pretty fun. Not a lot of video games with these guys, it's a lot of competitive you and me games. It's fun.
JH: Growing up, who was your favorite athlete? Favorite team?
SS: I loved the Royals, obviously. For players I liked George Brett a lot, and Doc Gooden. I came up watching the Royals a whole lot, even though they suck now, it's okay. That's my hometown team.
JH: What's the best part of being a professional baseball player?
SS: It's a game. They say pro ball, but really, it's a game. It's so much fun.
JH: If you weren't a professional baseball player, what would you be doing?
SS: Oh man, who knows. I don't know. I guess I'd probably be in real estate with my brother.