The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Victor Black in the 2009 draft with the 49th overall selection. Black came in to the draft rated as the number 50 prospect by Baseball America, profiling as a future back of the bullpen option. After an injury filled 2010 season, the Pirates announced that they were moving Black to the bullpen for the 2011 season. Black has a 91-95 MPH fastball which can go higher in relief appearances. He currently rates as one of the top relief pitching prospects in the farm system, behind Diego Moreno and Daniel Moskos.
John Dreker of Pirates Prospects recently interviewed Victor about his 2010 injuries, his move to the bullpen, his preparation for the upcoming season, and his pitch selection. Here is what Victor had to say:
John Dreker: Hi Victor. First, thank you for taking the time to do this. Could you start by telling the readers about the injuries you suffered this year and how you are recovering from them?
Victor Black: Hi John, well thank you for allowing me to help. Well as far as the injuries go it was the same thing that I dealt with a bit early in my college career, and it sidelined me for a full fall semester, but once back the shoulder never felt better. I have been under careful watch with our athletic trainers and have rehabbed and now continue to strengthen the whole shoulder and scap area as much as possible without losing flexibility. But as far as myself and my shoulder being ready, I have never been so excited to start throwing again.
John: What are your plans for getting ready for the upcoming season and have they changed from last year due to the injuries?
Victor: John my plans for the upcoming season started this June when it looked as though I was done throwing for the year. Intense rehab and definitely getting after it in the weight room and preparing myself for a full season so that I have as little breakdown as possible. I have been working out very hard and begin my throwing the 1st of December. But my preparation hasn’t changed much. I definitely have some target things that had to get stronger and more stable and I feel that they have, and now I’m ready to take this next year and get a roll on.
John: What pitches do you currently throw and what velocity? Also are you working on any new pitches?
Victor: Right now I am sticking with a fastball, curveball (which was a project this spring before I was sidelined) and a changeup. We did away with the slider for now. I really don’t have a good idea of what I am throwing them all at velocity wise but I assure you that each time I throw a ball there is intent and conviction behind them all! I am not working on any new pitches at the moment. Just focused on getting on the mound and competing. I believe that what I have right now is plenty good enough to compete and have a great deal of success. I do have to admit I have a rather nasty cutter that at some point down the road might break into my rotation. HaHa
John: We just heard that you are being moved to the bullpen,what are your thoughts on that and have they mentioned what team you might start the season with?
Victor: Yes it is true. I am a bullpen pitcher as of now. There is a method behind it and we are wanting to get some innings and trust built up in my arm before I start again. Or who knows this could be a permanent deal. Either way this will not change my mindset as a pitcher and competitor. I bring it all to the table every pitch whether it is the last inning or first. That is how you win and being in the bullpen will allow me to pitch more often and build up some stamina in my shoulder. As far as a starting point for the upcoming season, I have no real idea. My desire is to break camp healthy and ready to go. I live for baseball and to have to sit for a year and watch is gut-wrenching.
John: Do you have any particular goals for the upcoming year?
Victor: Like I said my goals are to stay healthy and give whatever team I am with all I have and let the rest take care of itself. I believe that when we as people take the time and effort and put it into something we believe in and have a passion for then God will reward us and so I am putting it in His hands and taking care of my side. Although I do have one secret goal which now will be no secret: to not give up a run this next year.
John: Any final thoughts for the readers?
Victor: John I certainly appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and am definitely thankful for all that I have and where I am at at this point in my career. I desire with all my heart to play in Pittsburgh as soon as possible. There is something about that city that keeps sucking me in every time I am there. I love it up there!! Pittsburgh fans keep your heads up. The sun will rise again and when it does I can assure you that it will be exciting.
John: Thanks again for taking the time to do this!
Victor: Thanks again John.