Monday, July 9, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: IronPigs All-Star SP Cole Irvin

Cole Irvin, image- Jay Floyd
Selected as one of three IronPigs' All-Star representatives, lefty pitcher Cole Irvin has enjoyed a remarkable season in the International League.  

Through 17 starts, the 24-year-old sports an 8-3 record with a 2.89 ERA and a .239 batting average against for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. 

A 5th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2016 out of Oregon, Irvin has enjoyed a swift rise through the organization's developmental ranks.

He'll represent the IronPigs in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Tuesday night, July 10th.

Recently, I talked with Irvin about being named an All-Star, his progress this year and his team.  Read ahead for that complete interview. 

-You've enjoyed a remarkable season to date.  What does the All-Star nod mean to you?

It's always cool to represent your team for an All-Star Game, an All-Star appearance, and you know being this close to the big leagues, you'd almost take a call up to the big leagues over an All-Star appearance, but it's a cool accolade.  It's a cool event.  I'm excited that I get to represent not just the IronPigs, but also the Phillies as well.  It's gonna be a really good time.  I'm really excited.

-You get to go with a pair of teammates, with Joey Meneses and Enyel De Los Santos voted in as starters for the game.  Does it make it more fun to be going with those guys?

Oh, absolutely.  It's gonna help my Spanish a little bit because they're both, you know, very, very fluent in Spanish.  (laughs)  But it's gonna be a good time.  I'm excited to spend a little bit more time with De Los Santos and Meneses.  And I'm just really excited to get to know them a little bit more. I'm pretty sure that their girlfriends are going.  So, you get to know them a little more off the field at events like these.  So it's going to be really cool to get to bond with them.

-Where's the game set to be played?

It's in Columbus, Ohio.

-Have you guys played there?

We have not played there yet.  I've been in Columbus, been to the stadium and stuff when I was a freshman at Oregon when we went to Ohio State.  So, I'm familiar with the ballpark, I'm familiar with everything that Columbus has.  So, I'm excited to get back there for everything Columbus has and get to see some friends I have up in that area.

-This season, you've been great, doesn't seem like there was any adjustment period to the level.  What can you share on the ease with which you've seemed to handle the competition?

I think I've got to give a lot of credit to (Nick) Rickles and (Logan) Moore and (Matt) McBride for catching me.  They call really good games.  I'm the one that has to execute the pitch in the end, but they're smart guys.  They're smart catchers and they know the guys in this league.  So, it just kind of helps to have guys in your corner helping you out and to be able to execute those pitches is a lot harder than it looks.  So, I've been fortunate on that end.  But, I've got to give all the credit to the catchers because they're keeping me composed out there.

-If somebody wanted to give you some of the credit, what's been working for you?  Is there a go-to pitch that's really helped you in key spots this year?

No, I mean I've always believed that every pitch you have should be a weapon and should be an out pitch.  So, I've just been able to throw a little bit more strikes this year.  I think I've thrown in some outings where I've given up a little more runs, I think I've thrown more strikes.  Maybe over 70-percent, which is really high for a pitcher, so it's just throwing strikes and limiting walks and limiting the time that runners are on base and just kind of managing the game and I've just had a really solid stretch of games where I've felt like I've managed things very well.  And it's a credit to our team with a lot of veteran experience kind of keeping me composed out there too. 

-You talked earlier about being close to the big leagues.  Not that the topic weighs on you, but when you are this close to the big leagues and there are names called for promotions, are there moments when you're on edge about it?

No, not really because that's all the work you gotta do to get there.  So, the guys that get called up have proven their worth and proven their abilities at this level.  And, really, they're your teammates, so you're rooting for them and you hope on the flip side that they're rooting for you as well.  And on the chance that a guy gets called up, it's always an awesome feeling in the clubhouse.  Whether that's myself or any other guy on this team, it's fun when a guy gets his name called. 

-I talked to you last year around the same point of the season and you were all smiles that day.  You're still smiling now.  I love it.  Since we've talked last, who has helped your progress or helped you learn a lot?

I think a lot of guys on this team have left a good impression.  Kind of how you should be with your teammates and stuff.  We've got Trevor Plouffe, Collin Cowgill, Danny Espinosa just joined us.  You know, Matt McBride.  There's a lot of guys that have been around the league for a while and it's just been really fun to interact with them and there's just some really good chemistry among the guys.  So, honestly, I feel like the whole team, I feel like there's been a really big kinda push for me.  It's fun to come to the ballpark when you've got a good group of guys around you having fun.

-Was there any one in spring training, a big leaguer that you got time with, that you learned from?

I mean I spent a little time in big league camp.  You learn from everyone.  I think (Jerad) Eickhoff was the bigger guy that I spoke to the most.  (Aaron) Nola as well.  It's just been a learning experience being with guys here.  More so because they're my teammates.  

-Were there any moments this season or even last season that was sort of a misstep that could have resulted in a learning experience?

I've kind of just kept my head in the dirt this year and just played.  I haven't had too much bad experiences, but I just really like playing with this team, so I'm just going to keep my head down and work my butt off and play for these guys that I have around me.  And when my name is called, I'll do that same thing in Philly.

-What's the best thing about this place, these fans, this facility in Lehigh Valley?

They're fun.  They come with energy every night.  It's just a fun time to be around.  We've got a really good team with the big club and we've got a really good team here.  So, any piece can fit.  It's just a matter of time.
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