Thursday, February 7, 2008

Darren O'Day went a combined 7-4 with a 2.53 ERA and 21 saves in 2007.

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor
We had the chance to hook up with reliever prospect Darren O'Day today and ask him some basic questions so that Angels fans can get acquainted with one of the Angels best relievers prospect relievers in their system. Darren posted a sparkling 0.75 ERA with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 24 games with his submarine delivery, baffling opposing CAL League hitters. He was promoted mid-season to Arkansas where he found it to be a little tougher, but still posted a respectable ERA (3.99) and when the season was over he finished with a .195 BAA.

O'Day represented the Angels in the AFL for the Surprise club and continued his success posting a 2.38 ERA. With his deceptive delivery I could see the Angels using him in late inning situations in the near future, especially if he has a solid showing in Spring camp and or a successful start to his minor league season.

Look for O'Day to start the season in Triple-A Salt Lake where area scout Kevin Mark and I will be keeping a close eye on him. Mike Scioscia likes to give opposing hitters a different look and Darren would definitely add that to the talented group of late inning relievers the Angels currently have going into the 2008 season.

So with no further ado, let's introduce you to......
Darren O’Day (RP, Los Angeles Angels)

Q: (Angelswin) When did you start playing baseball?

A: (Darren O'Day) From what I'm told I started playing as soon as I could walk. Every little brother wants to be just like his big brother, and I am lucky that my older brother, Kyle, decided he wanted to play T-ball when he was five. At that time I was 2, so maybe after a couple years of running around and playing in the dirt while he played baseball, I decided I wanted to have a try at the game too.

Q: (Angelswin) Who was the most influential in your pursuit to the big leagues?

A: (Darren O'Day) I would have to say my dad, Ralph. As long as I can remember he has made time to play or practice with me, even when it involved being my personal pitcher when I was in Tball and taking repeated line drives off his shins. He also coached me right up to high school on various park and travel teams. I couldn't go without mentioning Momma O'Day here, I think she has driven to and sat through more little league practices than she would have ever imagined.

Q: (Angelswin) What baseball player was your favorite growing up?

A: (Darren O'Day) When I was growing up, the only baseball games we saw regularly down in Florida were on WGN. Even better, both sides of my family are from Chicago, and I have fond memories of going to White Sox and Cubs games on summer vacations. So I would have to say my favorite player was Andre Dawson.

Q: (Angelswin) Team you followed growing up?

A: (Darren O'Day) Guess I answered that in the preceding question.

Q: (Angelswin) Best 1-game performance in your career to date?

A: (Darren O'Day) I was part of an improbable run to the College World Series in 2005 by the Florida Gators. In our second game there, we faced off with a Nebraska team with the likes of Alex Gordon and Joba Chamberlain. Lincoln is only an hour or so from Omaha, so the the Husker fans turned out to the tune of @ 25,000. My good friend, Tommy Boss, started and pitched into the fifth where he struggled a little and I was called in. With some great defensive plays behind me, I was able to go the distance without allowing a run. Playing on the national stage of ESPN and in front of a hostile crowd made for my most memorable baseball experience to date. I have never had so much fun playing baseball as I did that night.

Q: (Angelswin) Who impressed you both on the mound and in the batters box in your stint with the Quakes and the Travelers last year, and why?

A: (Darren O'Day) I played with both these guys at Rancho and Arkansas last year and loved the way they approached the game.

Brad Coon: he is my least favorite type of hitter to pitch against. He's a patient hitter that puts the ball in play almost everytime. He's fast enough to turn a routine groundball into a hit, and as soon as he gets to first, he's probabaly gonna steal second and third. Eventhough he fancies himself as a "power hitter" he's my prototypical leadoff guy, and he's smart enough to outthink a lot of pitchers.

Brok Butcher: Brok is a student of the game, and a very smart pitcher. I think his unbelievable year is a result of him figuring out what kind of pitcher he is. He has the ability to throw low to mid nineties, but realized that high eighties down in the zone with great sink is what's gonna get him to the big leagues. He still has the good fastball in reserve to bust a guy in when he wants, but more often than not he'll induce a weak groundball with that sinker.

I think middle relievers get overlooked more than any other group in baseball. I played with Dave Austen and Von Stertzbach in Arkansas and the Arizona fall league, and I think they add more to a pitching staff than can be measured. Both are coming off arm surgery and are unbelievably talented. They have been in the system for a few years and taught me a lot about leadership, approaching the game, and having fun while still being a professional.

Q: (Angelswin) What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: (Darren O'Day) Well, I think no matter how good you are every facet of your game could use some polishing. I would say my first priority at this point is improving the consistency of my offspeed pitches, especially my changeup.

Q: (Angelswin) What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?

A: (Darren O'Day) I take great pride in surprising people. I was lightly recruited out of high school and decided to try to walk on at Florida. I didn't succeed my freshman year throwing overhand, and tried again my sophomore year with my new submarine delivery and went on to play for four more years. I cant say that my freshman year, when I wasn't playing baseball, that I would ever have imagined having an opportunity to play professional baseball. I was given a chance by Tom Kotchman, who signed me as a senior non-drafted free agent. I took that same approach, of overcoming barriers, into pro ball, and have taken it out to the mound every time I pitched.

Q: (Angelswin) What type of velocity does O'Day get off his fastball and what is your repertoire of pitches?

A: (Darren O'Day) Last year I worked at 86-89, occasionally touching 90 or 91. I throw a 2 and 4 seam fastball, slider, and changeup.

The lighter side of Darren O’Day

Q: (Angelswin) If there is one thing people should know about Darren O’Day the person, it is?

A: (Darren O'Day) Tough one.....maybe that if I weren't playing baseball right now, I would be in my second year of Med School studying to be a surgeon.

Q: (Angelswin) What’s your favorite food?

A: (Darren O'Day) Another tough one, I eat just about anything, but I'm gonna have to go with my Mom's chicken piccata or deviled eggs.

Q: (Angelswin) What kind of music do you listen to? What’s in your CD player right now?

A: (Darren O'Day) Just about everything. The new Linkin Park, Angels & Airwaves CD's, and a mix tape of popular songs remixed by different DJ's.

Q: (Angelswin) What’s your all time favorite movie?

A: (Darren O'Day) I don't have an all time favorite, but I just saw a good one. "There Will Be Blood" starring Daniel Day Lewis

Q: (Angelswin) Most visited website?

A: (Darren O'Day) Foxnews, Facebook, and the Angels official website.

Q: (Angelswin) What do you like to do besides play baseball, what’s your hobby?

A: (Darren O'Day) Any outdoor or water sports. I read quite a bit. Do my best to keep up with friends from home while I'm away for most of year.

Q: (Angelswin) What person are you going to call first when you get promoted to the big leagues?

A: (Darren O'Day) Gonna have to go with my Dad. If it's possible, I think he would be even more elated than I will be. I guess all those line drives off the shins will finally pay off!

That's it for now, but we'll be sure to catch up Darren again in Tempe in a few weeks.

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