Nine questions with Evan (The Thrill) Grills
* LHP Evan Grills (Whitby, Ont.), a former Ontario Blue Jay, is off to a good start with class-A Lexington ….
By Clayton Richer
Baseball Hot Corner
Canadian southpaw Evan Grills is currently proving to the Lexington Legends that quality arms can be groomed north of the border. Grills who is playing for the Houston Astros class-A affiliate sports a 3-1 record with an era of 3.61 in his second season of professional baseball.
The native of Whitby, Ont., was selected in the 10th round of the 2010 amateur baseball draft by the Houston Astros. Grills is a fierce competitor who has a reputation as a “gig game” pitcher the Canadian National Team credits his change-up as his current out pitch.
Grills continues to thrill destined for his debut in the lone star state.
Evan Grills Interview:
1. You have represented Canada on the International level, what is it like playing with the maple leaf on your chest and your proudest International moment?
I’ve actually been blessed to have played in two world championships in Canada. Words cannot describe how proud I felt putting the red and white on. Hearing all the fans sing the national anthem before opening pitch is one of the greatest feelings I’ve had up to date in my career. My best memory would have to be from the 2008 world championships. Being 16 at the time and starting against Cuba was a huge honour for me. I threw eight strong innings and left with Cuba up 2-1. Even though we lost that game I will never forget the experience.
2. What was the greatest obstacle growing up in Canada and what advice do you have for aspiring Canadian baseball players?
Everyone’s answer would most likely be that we do not have warm weather all year round. My thought is that if you want something bad enough you will get it. Obstacles are made by yourself just keep pushing and grinding until you get where you want to be. That’s the best advice I could give to a young kid trying to make his way up.
3. What was the deciding factor to sign with the Astros and forego an education and secondly how early in the process did you know you were going to sign with the Astros?
Playing pro ball was what I wanted to do ever since I started throwing a ball in the front of my house with my father. I really had no interest in school to be honest, my focus was always playing in the big leagues as quickly as possible and competing at the highest level. As soon as I heard my name called my family and I was almost 100% sure I was going to start my professional career as soon as I could.
4. For people who have never seen you play, what type of player can they expect from Evan Grills and what MLB player do you model yourself after or emulate?
I pride myself on being a competitor. No matter what situation you throw me in I’m going to go in there with no fear and compete with what I have that day. I’m going to throw strikes and come after you. The guy in the big leagues I try to pattern my game after is Andy Pettitte. He is the ultimate big game pitcher, ever since I started getting scouted I was always called a big game pitcher. I love the big moment and the adrenaline. It really brings the best out in me.
5. What pitches do you currently throw, your “out pitch “and what type of velocity do your pitches hover around?
I throw a fastball, changeup and curveball. My fastball usually sits at 86-88 and tops at 90. My changeup is my out pitch and is usually at 70-73. My curveball usually sits at 74-76.
6. What is the one pitch you feel you need to add or perfect to be a successful major league pitcher?
I feel I need one more quality pitch to help me get to the big leagues. I am more concerned about where my pitches are going and making sure I throw every single one with conviction. I think that will help me more than adding anything to my arsenal. I truly believe mental strength and the way you think when you’re out there means a lot more than how hard I throw or how sharp my curveball is.
7. What has been the biggest transition for you getting accustomed to life in the minor leagues?
The one big change I have made is mental. When I was an amateur every game affected me until my next outing. If I did well I would be on a high until my next game, if I didn’t do so good it would bother me until my next outing. I’ve learned to set my emotions at a neutral state by trying to make sure I never got too high or too low. It’s a lot easier on the mind.
8. Who has been the most influential person in helping you develop as a baseball player throughout your career?
There are many people that have helped me in my career. Obviously my father is No. 1, he introduced me to the game and made sure I didn’t take short cuts. I have a lot of fond memories with my dad out front of our house throwing the ball around. He was always hard on me but quick to give me a compliment when I was doing well. I wouldn’t change a thing my dad did for me when I was a kid I appreciate everything he did for me more than I can explain. Next would be Sean Travers a coach for the Ontario Blue Jays. He’s is a very close friend to me and pretty much family. He has been in my life since I was twelve and really taught me how to act and what to expect when I went into pro ball. He spends countless hours with me in the off-season and I could not thank him enough for what he does for me.
9. Who has hit the longest home run off you and what do you recall from the at bat?
I’ve let up some big home runs in my life. Just recently I was pitching against the Hagerstown Suns, the Washington Nationals Low A team. Rick Ankiel came to bat and I got behind 2-0. The next pitch I threw was a fastball up that might possibly still be traveling. Even though I don’t like giving up runs I didn’t take it that bad knowing that Ankiel does that to big league pitchers all the time.