The Cincinnati Reds have had success cultivating young pitchers in recent years, with Aroldis Chapman, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto all making major contributions to the big league team. This bodes well for one of the Reds’ most recent draft picks, right-hander Dan Langfield.
Langfield was a high school star in Somerset, Massachusetts. He was part of the 2006 Somerset High School team that won the 2006 Division II State title. He peaked as a senior, going 5-2 with a 0.85 ERA. He struck out a ridiculous 118 batters in 57.1 innings, earning a scholarship to the University of Memphis.
Langfield improved in each season as a Tiger, culminating in his junior year in 2012, when he went 7-6 with a 2.79 ERA. He also fanned a Conference-USA best 111 batters in 93.2 innings. He finished his career with 252 strikeouts; good for third-place all-time at Memphis.
The Reds took Langfield with the 109th overall selection (3rd round) of this past year’s MLB draft. He was sent to short-season Billings to get his first taste of pro ball and didn’t fail to impress during his debut season. He appeared in 15 games (five starts) and went 3-0 with a 2.68 ERA. He also struck out 54 in just 37 innings.
Control is one area that Langfield will need to work on in 2013, as he walked 17 and hit five batters last season. More information on his statistics is available at BaseballReference.com.
I was able to ask Langfield some questions earlier this offseason. Given his draft pedigree and impressive first pro season, expectations should be high for the young pitcher as he prepares for his first spring training. Keep reading to learn a little more about one of the Reds’ up-and-coming prospects.
Dan Langfield Interview:
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player growing up was actually a position player, Derek Jeter, because I was a Yankees fan even though I grew just 45 minutes south of Boston. He was my favorite player because of all the “Jeter plays” he was making, and they just kept showing them on SportsCenter.
What was it like playing baseball for the University of Memphis?: Playing at the University of Memphis was the best thing I could have done because it helped out my game and prepared me so much for pro ball and life altogether. I appreciate everything Head Coach Schoenrock and Pitching Coach Corral has done for me up to this point. The team was a great group of guys that wanted to get better, play hard and win, and that’s the atmosphere I needed to be around.
Can you describe what your draft day experience was like?: Draft day was such a great day because it is every kids’ dream who plays baseball to be drafted. I had got done with working, and my girlfriend and I were on the way home and I was receiving calls from different teams, with them telling me different things. When I got home we turned on the draft and watched the second round and started to realize it was real and I was about to be drafted! The second round went by and I was a little a disappointed because about five teams had said they were going to take me in the second round, but the third round came and the Cincinnati Reds said they were going to take me at overall pick 109. When that came it was very exciting because it meant I am getting closer to my dream. It was awesome to have my family around but my dad had to be at work unfortunately. He was there throughout my entire career going up to that point. I was real excited to be drafted by the Reds because they’re a great organization and they are the team who gave me the opportunity to play professional baseball.
What was the anxiety and anticipation like between the time you were drafted to when you got assigned to a team and played your first game?: There wasn’t really much time because of the way the draft is set up now there is not much room for negotiation. So my agent told me the Reds wanted me in Arizona in six days, which didn’t give me much time off, but I was ready to begin. Then after being there for four days we went to Billings, Montana to begin our first professional season. I was real anxious to get out there and start pitching, but I knew it was still the same game, just at a new level.
Which pitches do you throw, and which is your best and which do you believe needs the most work?: Fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Best pitch is fastball because that is the pitch I throw the most strikes with. The curveball is my second best because that’s where a lot of my strikeouts come from; and my changeup needs a little work, just on slowing it down a little.
Your dad was drafted by the Blue Jays in 1980; how much advice has he been able to give you throughout your career?: He has helped out so much with baseball because he was pretty much my pitching coach up until college. He has taught me so much and I am so thankful that I was able to have him around to help me through things and teach me new things.
What was the most difficult thing to get used to this summer other than the travel?: I would say just having games every single day and being at the field at 2 p.m. every day. I was used to only being at about four games a week in college because that’s all we really played in a week. Also the language barrier with some players was tough to get used to because some only knew very little English and it made it pretty difficult.
Transitioning from college to professional ball this year, how noticeable was the difference in talent between the two?: The talent at the Rookie level was not a major difference because you’re facing a lot of college kids that were drafted that year and high school kids that were drafted as well, but as you move up that is where you notice to difference because of experience. But at Rookie level it’s still very competitive facing the best college players and high school players, so the lineups are a bit better and so is the pitching.