Not too long ago, Trevor Cahill was just a high school baseball player. Three years later, the 20-year-old righty is making a name for himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
The 20-year-old righty has pitched in the XM All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium -- as the youngest member on the U.S. roster -- and has punched his ticket to Beijing to pitch for USA Baseball in the Olympic Games.
I had a chance to catch up with the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder before -- and after -- the Futures Game, where we chatted about everything from his decision to forgo a chance to pitch a Dartmouth to his approach when he takes the mound.
Adam Loberstein: When the A's drafted you in the second round in 2006, how sure were you that you'd be declining your scholarship offer from Dartmouth?
Trevor Cahill: I was thinking if I was taken in the fourth, fifth or lower, I was probably going to sign. This is what I've wanted to do ever since I was growing up. I knew this would be the best opportunity. I knew I was going to go in and compete.
AL: Not too long ago, you were in high school. Going through all these different towns, being in New York for the Futures Game -- it must feel like a bit of a whirlwind. What's this lifestyle change been like?
TC: It's definitely tough. I think at first, when I was in rookie ball, it was the toughest being away from home. After that, you kind of get used to it. I hadn't gone through it in college like a lot of these guys have, so it was probably easier for them to transition. You just get used to it, though. You have to adjust.
AL: Talking about transitioning, you'll be making a big adjustment in the form of China and the Olympics. Is that something you were thinking about going through the Futures Game process?
TC: That was kind of the basis of this year's U.S. [Futures] team. You didn't know how many guys they'd pick off this team, but we had some good guys. I look at all the numbers, and it looks like all the top players to play in Beijing were playing [in the Futures Game]. It's definitely something you'd think about.
AL: Simply put, you're a guy that balances out a lot of way to keep people off the bases. High strikeout rates, keeping the ball on the ground, low walk rate -- what's your approach when you take the mound?
TC: Usually it's about getting ground balls. Early contact and ground balls gets you later into games. I got a little obsessed with the strikeout when I was with [High-A] Stockton. I would start throwing to get them to swing and miss instead of getting them to roll over. That kind of prevented me from getting deep into games.
AL: So would you rather pitch deep into the game -- eighth inning, complete game -- or strike 15, 16 guys out?
TC: Well, right now with one inning [in the Futures Game], it's nice to strike out guys. But it helps the team out more if you go eight innings and give up no runs than it does if you go six innings, give up no runs, and get the strikeouts. Strikeouts don't matter for the win.
I always like to keep it in my back pocket. If a guy gets on third base with no outs and you need strike three, it's nice to be able to have it.
AL: Had you gone to Dartmouth, you wouldn't be eligible for the draft till the 2009 draft. Do you think about how different things would have been had you gone to college?
TC: They can move the college guys up a bit faster, but still, I'm already in Double-A. If I'm in Triple-A next year -- I think that signing out of college I would have been in short season. Making those strides right now, it's been best to get the minor leagues out of the way.
I was excited to get started. I think I was scared to go to college because I was afraid of hurting myself. I didn't want to throw away my chance at playing professional baseball. Seeing where I am now, it makes it seem like it was the right choice.
Adam Loberstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.