The Pirates drafted Phillip Irwin in the 21st round of the 2009 draft out of Mississippi. Irwin signed quickly, and pitched in 29.2 innings in short season A-ball, putting up a 2.12 ERA, along with a 9.7 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9 ratio. He made his full-season debut in West Virginia in 2010, continuing his impressive numbers with a 3.35 ERA in 113 innings, with an 8.8 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9 ratio. He was moved to Bradenton for the post-season, where he made one appearance. He should start in Bradenton in 2011, and could move up to Altoona if he continues the success he saw in 2010.
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John Dreker of Pirates Prospects recently interviewed Irwin on his 2010 season, his pitch arsenal, and a look ahead to the 2011 season. Here is what Phillip had to say:
John Dreker: Thanks for taking time to do this, Phillip. Could you start by telling us how you felt your 2010 season went?
Phillip Irwin: I felt like my 2010 season went very well. I think getting through that first full season is quite a grind but I also gained a lot of experience. I had a couple rocky starts but, in all honesty, I feel those are good every once in a while to keep you focused and motivated.
John: I was at the July 29th game in Lakewood where you dominated for 5+ innings versus a very good hitting team. You left with a 6-0 lead after an error and walk due to the pitch limit but the Power ended up losing. Did you learn anything from that game and were you able to take positives from that great performance despite the ending?
Phillip: I remember that Lakewood performance well and I remember the events that followed me coming out of the game. I was surprised my pitch count was so high that early. All I can say is, no matter what, I have to trust whoever is coming in after me. I am a part of a team and I have confidence in my fellow teammates to come in and get the job done. It was just one of those days where the train came off the tracks.
John: What was it like joining Bradenton for the playoffs?
Phillip: Joining up with Bradenton was a lot of fun. Even though I didn’t pitch that well in my one outing, I still got some experience at the next level. It’s also nice being around older guys who have been around for a while. Being able to talk with them and watch how they approach the game can help me learn things about myself.
John: What pitches do you throw along with velocity? Are you working on any new pitches?
Phillip: I throw 4-seam fastball that’s 89-91 and on a good day I may touch 93. I also have a 2-seam fastball that doesn’t drop off much from that. I have a change up that can be anywhere from 81-83. That’s the pitch that I need the most work on. I also throw a curveball which is undoubtedly my out pitch. Curve velocity can be anywhere from 77-80. I am currently not working on any new pitches.
John: How is your off-season going and do you have any specific goals for the upcoming season?
Phillip: My off season is going great. I’ve gotten a lot stronger and I hope it plays a big factor in the 2011 season. As for goals, I’m not going to say I would like to end up at any certain level because I trust the Pirates will move me when I am ready. I want to stay healthy and stay focused. As long as I trust my stuff and continue to work hard, everything else will hopefully take care of itself.
John: Any final words for the fans of the site, and Pirates fans?
Phillip: I would just like to say thank you to all of the Pirate fans and everyone else out there for their support.
John: Thanks again to Phillip for taking the time to do this!
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.