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PhoulBallz Interview: Fightins LHP Austin Davis

Austin Davis, image- Jay Floyd
Lefty reliever Austin Davis has been an exciting contributor at two levels already this season.  After opening the season with the Class A Advances Clearwater Threshers, the 24-year-old was promoted to Double-A Reading, where he is mowing down the competition.

Overall in 15 appearances this season, Davis, who was the Phils' 12th round pick in 2014, has a 2-0 record with a save, a 1.82 ERA and an 11.2 K/9 mark.

Last week I talked with the six-foot-four 245-pounder about his recent success, learning from Roy Halladay, early memories of the game and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-You've been having plenty of success this year.  Talk a bit about your season thus far.

Yeah, I'm just out here trying to help the team and get us wins and get us saves and just do whatever I can to help the team win and so far, so good.

-Excellent.  The word on you early in the season was that your velocity was up a bit from previous years.  What led to that? What can you tell me that's behind the increase there?

I spend the whole off-season getting bigger, stronger, coming off an injury last year.  I used the Driveline program too and that's kind of bringing everything together and the velocity just jumped and I'll let it ride.

-Driveline program...I haven't heard of that.  What details can you share?

Driveline is a weighted ball program out of Seattle.  A lot of big leaguers are trying to use it now.  Teams are trying to take advantage of it.  My trainer back home has a facility where we can use it and I've been using different weighted balls and do long toss in your throwing and just kind of strengthen your arm and get ready for the season.

-I've talked with coaches at times about seeing a handful of guys in Lakewood and by the time they get to Reading, their velocity is up several notches.  And I have heard about team mandated things being key for those guys.  Was there anything specifically from the Phillies that may have helped in that regard as well?

Yeah, definitely.  I mean, it's the culmination of a lot of things.  Getting your legs going is all a part of it too, so it's not two different programs.  It's not Driveline's program and the Phillies program.  It's bringing all the things together and using different tools to increase velocity.

-What's the full pitch menu right now and what do you consider the quality weapons for you?

I'm working with fastball, slider, change up and, you know, I'm here to get lefties out and I know that and I'm just really working on that fastball (and) slider and making those the best tools I can and we'll go from there. 

-There are a few prospects on this Reading club that are drawing some attention this season.  Now that you've joined this club, you're among them.  Have you heard any buzz and can that be exciting for you?

I mean, I had no clue.  I'm not on Twitter or social media that much, so that's not even something that I know.  You know, but I guess that's exciting for them to hyped on people and stuff.  I'm just trying to make it to the big leagues like everyone else and if people want to say that I'm going to make it there faster of slower that's up to them and I'll just do my thing.

-What's the fun level for you this year?  Because, I imagine, success has to make the whole thing more enjoyable for you.

I mean, for me, it's fun to just try to execute every pitch as perfectly as I can and working with Jeff Miller and Roy Halladay down in Florida and getting my mind right with that stuff.  I also work with this guy Buddy Biancalana, who played in the big leagues with the Royals and basically success comes from doing what you want to do each and every time.  Whether you get the guy out or he hits a home run, if you execute your pitch you're successful.  And I feel like I'm doing that at a high percentage this year, so that's a lot of fun.  Yeah.

-You mentioned Halladay there.  Any meaningful feedback you've gotten from him or other coaches that has helped you take strides?

I mean, through my whole career the talk has been, "You have the stuff, you just need to make sure you're doing it every single day."  To be able to go out there and be consistent is what I feel like I've done a good job of this year, so far, and I have to keep that going.  But I think that consistency every day is what I think the coaches are starting to notice a little more.  

-What else can you tell me about your interactions with Halladay?  I've heard guys before share that he's given them a book about the mental approach.  Was it along those lines?

Jeff Miller is our head mental skills coach and Roy is part of that team as well, so Roy is stationed down in Florida and he spends time in the clubhouse talking to us, meeting with us.  And I had a good amount of time to talk to him during the season with Clearwater when I was down there and he just knows the game, has the experience, he can relate to you very well and use the things that come from books like The Mental Game of Baseball, The Mental ABC's of Pitching, stuff like that and translate that to our language and make that more personal for us to use.

-Who inspired you as a youngster watching baseball?  Was there anyone you grew up wanting to emulate?

I grew up in Arizona, so Randy Johnson.  Growing up, you watch him throw 100, just letting it go with a nasty slider and I thought, "Hey, I'm left-handed."  And I was tall and gangly- "I can do this!"  Now I'm just trying to throw balls fast and get guys out.

-Is that your earliest memory of baseball, watching Randy Johnson?

Yeah.  I remember exactly where I was for his perfect game and just watching him with the Diamondbacks win the World Series was just exciting.  So, just trying to think back to that, what made him successful and just use that imprint.

-Did you ever get to see him compete in person?

I saw him pitch in person.  It was sort of toward the end of his career, so he wasn't as nasty as he was back in the day, but still nasty.

-Are there any family members that got you into the game?

My family loves baseball.  None of them played of anything like that, but they were just fans.  My mom and her parents grew up in Kansas City and are huge Royals fans and now live out in Surprise, where the spring training stadium is.  They just enjoy and love baseball.  And I grew up playing every sport and they just let me choose from there.  And I figured I wasn't athletic enough to do anything else, so I just stand in one place and throw the ball as hard as I can.

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