"I usually pride myself on getting ground outs."
The Nationals signed righty pitcher, Josh Wilkie as an undrafted free agent in June of 2006 out of George Washington University. Wilkie began his professional career with the GCL Nationals and put together a solid campaign despite tiring down the stretch. We recently caught up with Josh for a Q&A session. (Free Preview!)
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CapitolDugout.com: First of all Josh, what are your overall thoughts on your 2006 season?
Josh Wilkie: It went really well under the circumstances. I had thrown 97 innings in my college spring and went right into the GCL season with no rest. At the beginning of the season my stuff was sharp and things were going really well. By the 26th, 27th inning I threw for the GCL Nationals my arm was just really tired. But overall, it went well and I got the ability to show my stuff and think the overall feedback is very positive.
CapitolDugout.com: You were signed by the Nationals as an undrafted free agent. Did you expect to be drafted and what were your thoughts after you weren't?
Josh Wilkie: I had a little hope that I was going to be drafted and I was told by someone I knew well that my name was at least put on the board to be possibly picked. At first I was really frustrated because I know I can compete at a higher level and there was not much I could do to do anything about it. I had two top three career records at George Washington, a good D-1 school, and wasn't getting any looks so I just felt kind of helpless.
CapitolDugout.com: When you arrived in the GCL, what types of differences did you notice in the hitters you were facing compared to college?
Josh Wilkie: Well, wood bats are a huge adjustment for every American hitter, but to be honest most of the kids in the GCL were Latino and they have been swinging wood their whole life. In college you are facing every high school's stud ballplayer and in the pro's regardless of the level, your facing the kids that were every college and high schools' top tier player. It is a big adjustment for sure.
CapitolDugout.com: Could you briefly take us through your repertoire?
Josh Wilkie: Well, I throw the basic fastball, curveball, changeup with speeds from 88-91 MPH on the fastball. The curveball is around 75 MPH and the changeup around 76-78 MPH. I throw the curveball different in different counts. I can adjust small things to make the curveball a slider.
CapitolDugout.com: Even though you haven't played a full pro season yet, what are some of the lessons you have learned so far?
Josh Wilkie: You have to be ready everyday to play and compete to the best of your ability no matter what it takes. Playing everyday at noon in the Florida heat and going through the hardships the GCL brought to the table really showed me the sacrifices and dedication that this game requires.
CapitolDugout.com: Looking ahead to next season, what are some of the major improvements you'd like to make?
Josh Wilkie: I'd like to throw harder and be stronger obviously. But I need to work on pitching inside to lefties and getting early strikes with my fastball also.
CapitolDugout.com: You had quite a few strikeouts in the GCL. Would you consider yourself to be a strikeout pitcher or was that something that just happened?
Josh Wilkie: It was kind of something that just happened although I did pick up quite a few in college my last two seasons. I usually pride myself on getting ground outs with pitching backwards and locating my off-speed stuff. But, in the GCL it just seemed to get me strikeouts which was good.
CapitolDugout.com: What are some of your primary goals heading into next spring in terms of what team you'd like to break camp with or any sort of statistical goals?
Josh Wilkie: Well, I hope to start out in Savannah or Potomac obviously. I believe if I come and pitch well at camp that will happen. As for stats, I don't know about what role I will have on the staff but if I am a starter like in college, I'd love to have 150 innings, 150 strikeouts, and an ERA below three. If I were closing, I would like to have a no loss record and a strikeouts same as innings ratio.