FSNextTV: Freshman RHP Levi Mintz Interview

FSNextTV: Mississippi State freshman pitcher Levi Mintz talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

[The video is premium content. The transcript below the video is free for all to read.]

Describe yourself as a pitcher.
"My average velocity is usually 86-87 (miles per hour) but when I want to I can bump it up. I think I have hit 90 a couple of times. It's kind of rare so don't expect that every time. I have a decent curveball. But the thing they recruited me for is my split-finger fastball. I think they recruited me because it gives them something different (to throw).

"I really have to work on my control because I don't throw (my pitches) as hard as a lot of people. There are some guys in the SEC that can throw 94-95. And control is not as of a big deal to them. But I have to work on hitting my spots and throwing it where the batter doesn't hit it (hard). I have to work on getting contact and getting ground ball outs. I want them to get themselves out because I'm not going to blow it by them."

Tell me more about your split-finger fastball.
"You have to work on it. As you can see (he shows his hand) my hand is stretched out from throwing it over the years. But I really started throwing it (a lot) my senior year of high school. Most people don't like to throw it because it puts a lot of stress on your elbow but I've never had any problems with my elbow or any arm problems. I've been throwing it a lot and it's been getting better."

How is a split-finger fastball different than a four-seam and a two-seam fastball?
"I four-seam is generally a straight fastball and a two-seam has a little run to it. A split-finger is a little slower and is more of a breaking pitch. It looks just like a fastball but has a late break to it. It just dives into the ground. If it's really good it just drops off the table about 10 feet from the plate and nobody can hit it."

Does MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson expect you to eventually throw it harder and have more drop on it?
"Yes sir, I think he does. (Adding) more velocity will (cause) more velocity on every pitch, fastball, curveball. The harder you throw, the harder you will throw every pitch and the better each pitch will be."

Recruiting-wise, how did Mississippi State get involved with you?
"Last December I came to one of their winter camps, a showcase camp. My baseball coach told me about their camp and told me that I should go and see what they thought (about me). I came (to the camp) and threw my bullpen and (Coach Thompson) liked what he saw because he started talking to me that day. We went to his office and talked a little bit. We talked to (head) Coach (John) Cohen and they invited me to come here as a preferred walk-on. I'm actually not on a baseball scholarship but an academic scholarship. I was going to come to school here anyway because I'm a bio-medical engineering major and they are well renowned for their engineering school."

When did you make the decision to accept the opportunity?
"I went home and thought about it for a few days. I was a quarterback in high school (and) I had a few football offers back in Alabama that were closer to home. My family and I talked about it and we decided coming here would be better for my schooling and for what I wanted to do later in life. The baseball (opportunity) is a big, big icing on the cake."

What has it been like since you have been at Mississippi State?
"It is like nothing that I have experienced before. It's incredible. All the guys are working hard trying to get to that one goal of winning a national championship, which I think is everyone's goal here. Everybody comes in here ready to work, the coaches come in ready to work, Being a freshman, all the older guys kind of help me out, tell me where to do, what to do. If I'm doing something wrong they help me fix it. It's just a great group of guys to be around."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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