2012 MLB Draft Q & A: Mitchell Traver

Houston Christian's Mitchell Traver

Today in our 2012 MLB Draft Q & A Series, we interview Houston Christian right-handed pitcher Mitchell Traver. Traver currently is committed to TCU and is ranked as the #34 draft prospect by Scout's Frankie Piliere. Inside Traver discusses how he is able to repeat his delivery consistently, how he prepares his body and arm to pitch, his mind-set about the draft, who his mentors are and much more.

For a complete scouting report on Traver from Scout.com's National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere, see: 2012 Draft Scouting Report: Mitchell Traver.

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Rays Digest: I have read several scouting reports on you, but could you tell me a little bit about your arsenal as a pitcher? What kinds of pitches do you throw and which ones have you had the most success with?

Mitchell Traver: Fastball (4-seam and 2-seam), circle-change, and spike-curve are the pitches that I currently have. I really have only been throwing the spike curve ball since last fall and it's really become a very effective pitch for me this spring. I feel like I can throw that pitch anywhere in the count and move it through the zone with a great deal of confidence. My changeup is coming back to me -it's a feel pitch and I put it away and am learning to trust it more. My fastball is my bread and butter, like most power pitchers, and the 2 seam has a sinker-like action most of the time. In terms of velocity, 4 seam is normally 92-95, top 96-97, 2 seam 89-93, Change 80-83, Spike 78-81.

Rays Digest: What about your approach to attacking hitters on the mound? What is your philosphy when you're pitching?

Mitchell Traver: I'm aggressive with my fastball and I always aim to get ahead on hitters. Throwing first pitch strikes is something I have definitely improved on this year in my outings. I like to throw inside; I look to challenge every hitter at some point and I believe it's my job to compete on every pitch. When I get on the mound I really focus on winning one pitch at a time, making my best pitch at that moment, then when I get the ball back I get ready for the next one. I'm a competitor and I hate to lose.

Rays Digest: You are a tall guy at 6'7 and often times taller pitchers have a tough time maintaining their delivery consistently. However, the scouting reports on you all say that you repeat your delivery well. Is that something that you work on alot?

Mitchell Traver: Repeating my delivery has been the name of the game for me. It's the foundation for me to be a long-term player (clean mechanics with repeatability). Truthfully, yes, I have worked extremely hard on my delivery and mechanics and feel and knowing what it is I'm doing to be able to repeat it. I use video for all of my bullpens and translate that into "my feel" in the delivery. I've been able to model from some of the best using video including pitchers who throw the right way and do what I seek to do including guys like: Beckett, Price, Sabathia, & Josh Johnson. I have really made huge strides over the past year or so with my pitching coach David Evans, as he uses a system called ProMirror to be able to video record every pitch and break it down to get an advanced idea of what I'm doing and how I need to correct it. I can always get better at repeating my delivery and becoming consistent with my offerings and that's what I have been working towards. I believe I have an excellent foundation that I am throwing from and am able to use my size and power as an asset when on the bump.

The other starburst I got was from my training regimen with Dynamic Sports Training and Lee Fiocchi. Everything about me physically is now at another level as a result of the strength, speed and flexibility training I have been doing since last year with him. For me, that has translated into better mechanics, repeatability and huge boost in stamina and endurance during outings.

Rays Digest: Other than throwing, what kinds of things do you do to prepare your arm and body to pitch? Tell me a little about your workout routine.

Mitchell Traver: I believe the physical training I have engaged in with DST & Lee Fiocchi gives me two huge advantages every time I go out. The benefits are half preparation and half prevention. The preparation piece is about getting stronger where I need to be stronger, and for me, that was strengthening my core and my lower body. As a result, I have seen huge gains from my work with Lee. And it's all been baseball- specific work versus football lifts.

The prevention piece is the other half and is very valuable to me. The shoulder recovery program that you may have heard Trevor Bauer rave about is the same program I use after every outing. It's amazing. The flexibility piece has helped me a ton in terms of staying loose and that translates into injury prevention. The workouts are tough and I alternate my body lifts with my core training. I believe I have an excellent plan to improve my ability on the mound going forward because of these routines.

The thing that most people don't know is that Lee Fiocchi also trains MLB guys like Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Chris Young, Michael Bourn and Trevor Bauer to name a few. It's been fun to get the chance to workout with these incredible athletes in the off-season and it's definitely a blessing I seek to take advantage of. The shoulder recovery program that he has all his pitchers use is truly amazing. On a 7 day rotation schedule, I'll lift twice, do core strength one of the days, along with cardio like rowing or stationary bike and sometimes sprints, I do core stability another and I'll have a break day the day before I throw. I also long toss three times, with a pen mixed in during that week.

Training is something I take very seriously. I enjoy working hard and I enjoy doing the things nobody else wants to do because of the difficulty, because I know it makes me better and gets me closer to reaching my ultimate goal of being a front-line Major League starter.

Rays Digest: You are committed to TCU, but are also considered to be one of the best high school pitchers in the draft. When draft day comes, what sorts of things will be part of your decision making process when deciding to sign with a MLB club or going to school?

Mitchell Traver: I'm very excited for my opportunity at TCU, it's a blessing that I'm extremely excited about. The coaches and I have a very good relationship and TCU has all the resources I can think of that will make me better and get me ready for whatever follows. As for my mindset, I'm eyes wide-open as far as the Draft and being ready for pro-ball. That's why I have prepared like I have. If the situation is right, I can definitely see myself playing pro-ball somewhere this summer and continuing the journey to becoming better. Most of those things are out of my control though, so I am going to stay focused on what I can control. I am going to keep working hard and will be ready for June 4th or the TCU campus either way. I guess we will just see what happens!

Rays Digest: With the new MLB draft rules that were put in place this off-season, players and teams must kind of feel their way through how the draft is going to be different in terms of signing and slotting. Have you and your advisors studied the new rules and thought about how they may affect your final decision?

Mitchell Traver: I've looked at it a little bit, but I know my Dad and advisor are well aware of what's going on. I think the changes will affect every player's decision on draft day. It's definitely a completely different set of circumstances after the CBA changes.

Rays Digest: As a high school player who is heavily scouted and talked about, how do you balance that scrutiny with just being a normal high school kid?

Mitchell Traver: I received that advice going into this season and it's not always as easy to do as it sounds! But, my attitude is to focus on controlling what I can control, which is my effort, attitude, and preparation. I do my best in those three areas everyday to get better and I'm able to relax because I know there isn't anything else I could really do to get better. Because I'm able to really let go of those things I can't control, it allows me to be a 17 year old young adult and still be able to be a "normal H.S. kid". I am with my family a lot, because we are extremely close, and I also hangout with my teammates and a few close friends. All those things around me right now usually aren't part of my concerns.

Rays Digest: I know at one time you played basketball. Do you still play? If not how hard was the decision to focus solely on baseball?

Mitchell Traver: I still play just to play, but not for school or anything. It was a tough decision to stop playing because my dad played, and I was pretty good at it and still relatively new to it. But I made the decision to fully commit myself to my first love and to being the best I could be with the 24 months I had left in high school. Every now and then, my friends call me up and I'll go play with them and it's always a lot of fun to see how others react when they realize "the big dude can jump!"

Rays Digest: Houston Christian has a pretty rich baseball tradition in the state of Texas. What has it been like playing for such a successful program?

Mitchell Traver: It's been a huge blessing, I absolutely love it here and I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to play here. The competition we play is really the best in Texas, minus four or five teams in Dallas or San Antonio, so that's definitely a huge benefit of playing here. My team has really come together this year, and as always, we are looking to continue that rich tradition with a state championship this year.

Rays Digest: Who are your mentors on and off the field that have helped you develop as a player and a person?

Mitchell Traver: Definitely my Dad and David Evans. My Dad is my best friend and he has really set the tone as far as how to live the right way and how to serve. He is a man after God's own heart and he is someone I consistently try and become. If I am half the man he is, I did pretty darn good. David Evans is my pitching coach and has been since age 12. But in all seriousness, he is definitely like family to me also. We are extremely close, and can talk about anything, and I know without his impact on my life, and me, I would not be where I am today. He went through the rigors of pro ball and knows what to expect. He was a pitcher and he knows the game. He is the one who really gets me educated and prepared for the game.

Rays Digest: Have you been contacted by any MLB teams to work out for them or are you going to be participating in any pre-draft showcases?

Mitchell Traver: Yes, I have been contacted by teams to work out for them in May but right now I am working through my high school state playoffs and devoting myself to that. I was able to attend a few in January and hope to do the same in May.

Rays Digest: I've read that you are a very good student. Are academics something that is important to you? What do you want to do if you dont play professional baseball?

Mitchell Traver: Academics are very important to me, and whether I go to TCU now or not, I will get my degree and I will take my grades seriously to be the best I can be in the classroom. They tell me there is life after baseball, but right now I don't want to believe it. But if that day does come, I am leaning towards a career in Business Law or that general arena. It's still kind of gray though, I really just want to play baseball!

Rays Digest: What is your favorite MLB team? What players do you admire and try to emulate?

Mitchell Traver: My favorite MLB team is either the New York Yankees or Milwaukee Brewers. Probably the Brewers because my whole family is from Wisconsin, so I've grown up being a Brewers and Packers fanatic. The players I try and emulate are Josh Beckett and Chris Carpenter. They play the game hard, compete on every pitch and are both fireballing right- handers with a knee-buckling curve and an intimidating mound presence.



John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.

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