Monday, August 12, 2019

IronPigs Quotables: JD Hammer interview excerpts

JD Hammer, image- Cheryl Pursell
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Recently I published a feature on reliever J.D. Hammer, who spent some time with the big league Phillies before returning to the minors with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

In the piece, Hammer and the IronPigs' coaching staff speak about the righty pitcher's current path and what he's focused on to return to the majors.

During my time chatting with the talented prospect he spoke on some topics that didn't make the cut in the feature.  Topics included the variance in the baseball at the upper levels, the IronPigs' catchers and more.  Read ahead for those interview excerpts.


I asked Hammer about the difference in the baseball from the lower levels of the minors to Triple-A and the majors.  The variance in the balls is said to take some getting used to...

Yeah, the seams are different from Double-A to Triple-A, but they did a good job of getting us ready for it during spring training.  The guys that they expected to have a shot at Triple-A and the big leagues this year, they made sure they were throwing the big league balls during spring training, so yeah there's differences in the Double-A ball and the Triple-A ball, but we've prepared for that this whole year, so I mean I think a lot of guys are feeling confident throwing it, because that's what we've been used to.

I asked if he felt equipped to work with the different ball ahead of debuting in Triple-A...

Yeah, absolutely.  I mean, at the end of the day, it's baseball.  You've got to make pitches and you've got to make adjustments, so if the ball's an adjustment, you've just got to adjust with it.  It's just like anything else.  So, I mean I haven't noticed anything crazy between here and the big leagues.  The seams on the balls in Double-A are a little bit bigger, but other than that a lot of us have been used to throwing the big league balls since spring training.

Hammer shared some thoughts on battery mate Deivy Grullon...

He's been awesome for us.  He's definitely a different breed of catcher.  He knocks the ball around pretty well.  So, it's been fun to watch since I've been here and he's got a bright future ahead of him.

And also spoke on the IronPigs' other catcher Rob Brantly...

Brantly, he's awesome.  He's a veteran guy.  I can talk to him and see what he's thinking about in certain situations, hitting wise, and get a feel for what the hitter's thinking about and he's been awesome to throw to.

In addition to the insight he shared on bonding with Pat Neshek specifically in the original piece, Hammer spoke on the Phils' relief corp overall being helpful during his tenure with the big league team...

Yeah, (I learned from) pretty much all the guys in the bullpen.  I talked to Morgan a lot.  I talked to Neris a lot.  Neshek, Robertson, just picked their brains.  Just see what they're doing to be successful.  They're a tool for us younger guys 'cause they have that experience, so yeah I picked a lot of their brains while I was up there.

Hammer also spoke with me about the extra attention he gets from fans due to his signature look (big, thick framed glasses) and his last name...

I don't pay  much attention to it.  I'm just here to play baseball, so I've got my  mind focused on that.  I try to stay away from social media as much as  possible.  I don't really know what  exactly is said, or the buzz or anything.  It's nice to have fans and  to have people support you when you're doing good and be there for you  when you're doing bad.  Everybody always says the Phillies fans are  passionate and they are!  I mean it's nice to have  support from people who really care about the game.

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