CapitolDugout.com looks at the peripherals stats of the Vermont Expos' hitters to project…
Q&A with Gene Yost
Gene Yost: I kind of had an up and down year. I was throwing out of the bullpen mostly in Spring Training and then hurt my lat, so I didn't make it to Savannah until later in the year. I pitched out of the bullpen for Savannah before going to Vermont and starting. It felt different going back to starting.
CapitolDugout: Do you have a preference starting or relieving?
Yost: I think I have a starter's mentality. I don't have that type of arm to come in for an inning and blow guys away. My preference is starting, but it is really not my choice. Whatever they [the Nationals] want me to do is what I'll do.
CapitolDugout: Talk about your repertoire. What type of pitches do you throw, at what speeds, etc?
Yost: I have a fastball that sits 85-89 MPH, probably topping out around 91 MPH. I have both a 4-seam fastball and a 2-seamer, although my 2-seam is a little slower. I throw a slider around 78-81 MPH and a splitter around the same speed. My splitter is nothing like Roger Clemens' or anything like that. It is more like a changeup, an off-speed pitch. I have a curveball, but I'm not sure how fast it is. I threw it maybe three times this past season. I'm going to have to develop my curve more to help get left-handed batters out. It's a little soft and it is a pitch that I haven't thrown much since high school. My fastball has a lot of movement so I try and get guys out with my fastball.
CapitolDugout: What would you say is your biggest strength as a pitcher out there on the mound?
Yost: I would say my experience. A lot of guys at this level are not used to pitching with runners on base. I think knowing how to get guys out with runners on base is a huge advantage for me. I was a hitter in college so I know what hitters are thinking too, so that helps.
CapitolDugout: What would you say is your biggest weakness as a pitcher? What do you think you need to improve the most?
Yost: Definitely my curveball. I need that dominant two-strike pitch to get somebody out. I also think I just need to get more innings. Pitching out of the bullpen though, it is tough to do that.
CapitolDugout: Which current Major League pitcher would you compare your game to?
Yost: Brent Strom was in town for the weekend and he made the comment that I look like Mark Buerhle of the White Sox. Mostly because we're left-handers and we both work fast. He has the big curveball though. I don't, not yet hopefully.
CapitolDugout: Among your teammates on Vermont this past year, who were you most impressed with?
Yost: For the first half of the year, I'd have to say John Howell. He was unbelievable until he got hurt. But for the whole season, it was definitely Francisco Plasencia. It was just so much fun to watch him play. He plays the game hard and he doesn't get frustrated with the day in and day out stuff. He put up some big numbers. He kind of reminds me of Jim Edmonds out in centerfield, although offensively they have a different game. He has such a great arm too. He's like Michael Vick out there, throwing a baseball. He's fun to toss with the outfielders. I'll tell you what though, I want him out there when I'm on the mound.
CapitolDugout: Okay, switching gears to the mound, which of your Vermont teammates impressed you the most among the pitchers?
Yost: Chris Lugo really impressed me this past year. He is so young and strong. He has three above average pitches and he doesn't walk people. Lugo is about as competitive an 18-year old as I have ever seen too. He's real smooth. His fastball is around 87-89 MPH and he has a good curveball and an above average changeup. He's a small kid now, but once he hits his prime, he'll have good potential.
CapitolDugout: Which of your Vermont teammates do you think could be a "sleeper" prospect? Who do you think will fly under the radar as a prospect but will have a solid Major League career?
Yost: I think Leonard Davis gets overlooked. From what he did last year  to what he did this year, it was pretty amazing. I think anyone that has that much improvement over a one year span has pretty good potential. It is going to be tough for him at third base though. If there's one position the Nationals have depth in at the minor league level, it is third base.
CapitolDugout: What are your goals for next season?
Yost: My ultimate goal is to be in Potomac next year. My real goal is to break Spring Training with a team and avoid Extended Spring Training. Extended is rough. I think if I'm going to be a starting pitcher next season, I could see myself in Savannah for the whole year. If I'm relieving though, I think I could possibly be in Potomac.
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