Brooks Pounders is the type of prospect I love. He’s a mammoth (6’4, 255) right-handed power pitcher who can get his fastball into the mid 90’s. Any batter stepping in against him has to be intimidated. The Kansas City Royals, who acquired Pounders this past off-season via a trade, hope that he will soon be bullying major league hitters as part of their big league pitching staff.
Baseball was part of the Pounders’ home when Brooks was growing up. His father Brad Pounders was an excellent prospect in the San Diego Padres’ farm system in the 1980’s. He passed his love of the game on to his son, which has paid off in him becoming one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
Naturally, Brooks was a high school star. He went 9-2 with a 1.86 ERA as a senior at Temecula (CA) High School, drawing an immense amount of interest from both college and pro teams. He passed up on a scholarship offer from USC to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2009 MLB draft.
The Pirates pitched Pounders primarily out of the bullpen over the past three years. He went 10-10 in 61 total games (9 starts) with a 3.82 ERA, 4 saves, and 121 strikeouts in 132 innings. More information about his statistics are available here. He has a low 90’s fastball that plays whether he is starting or relieving, and the development of his breaking pitches will likely determine his future role.
This past off-season the Pirates included Pounders in a trade with the Royals for Yamaico Navarro. Teams hate giving up their prospects in deals, but they are the standard currency of the trade market. It remains to be seen if the Royals will keep Pounders in the bullpen or make him a fulltime starter, but it is clear that they consider him a very promising prospect.
Fans who follow Pounders on Twitter won’t be disappointed, as he is one of the friendliest players you can hope to meet. Recently I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his experiences in baseball.
Brooks Pounders Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?: My favorite team growing up was the Padres because my dad played for them. I grew up watching Roger Clemens and idolized him along with Troy Percival, a close friend of mine, mainly because they were power/dominant pitchers.
What pitches do you have in your arsenal, and which one do you think you need to improve the most?: In my arsenal, I have a four-seam fastball along with a two-seam, changeup, slider, and a curveball. I would like to develop more of a feel for my curveball and be able to throw it 1-0 and 1-1 for strikes.
Can you run through what your 2009 draft experience was like?: The draft experience in 2009 was a hectic/amazing experience. I obviously had expectations, but from day one my dad told me not to get my hopes up. When I got the call from Pittsburgh, I signed a week later and headed to Florida to play in the GCL. In the end and I couldn’t be happier with where I am at today.
Do you believe your future lies in starting or relieving?: I would love to start, but whatever I can do to help the club is my main focus, and if that is starting or relieving, then that’s what I am going to do.
How did you find out you had been traded to the Royals, and what was your immediate reaction?: I was in Florida at the Pirates complex for a mini-camp during the winter meetings, and the head of Player Development with Pittsburgh, Kyle Stark, called me at 11 p.m. and told me I had been traded to the Kansas City Royals. I ended up speaking with Scott Sharp from the Royals about an hour later, and was on a flight to Arizona at 7 a.m. for physicals and workouts. I was shocked at first to be honest, as would anybody who was traded for the first time would be I am sure, but after being around a few guys down in Arizona for those three days, everybody made me feel right at home and I am extremely excited to start my career with the Royals, and want to thank the Pirates for the opportunity they gave me.
Have the Royals shared what plans they have for you?: I have spoken with a number of people with Kansas City, but as of now do not know the plans they have in mind for me. I will be heading to Arizona February 5th to get situated, meet the new coordinators and trainers, but also to continue workouts, long toss, and bullpens at the Royals facilities.
Besides the travel, what is the most difficult thing for a minor league player to adapt to?: I would have to say the day to day grind of the 142 game season. We work out all off-season to keep our bodies healthy throughout that season and ultimately to reach the goal to not only play in the major leagues, but to stay there, and make an impact for the club that has devoted time and effort into you.
After you signed your first contract, did you do anything to treat yourself or celebrate with friends and family?: Actually my family and I have yet to vacation. I get out and do things in the off-season with them and spend as much time with my family and friends as I can. They also come out and watch me play when they plan it around their work schedule, which is always nice. As for myself, I bought my truck which I love, but other than that not much traveling because the past few off-seasons I have been living in The Woodlands, Texas, working out with a group of MILB and MLB players. But I am home now and ready for the 2012 season with the Royals.