Pennsylvania is a well known breeding ground of athletes. Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr., and Dan Marino are just a few legends who were raised in the Keystone State. Another trying to earn his place on that ever-growing list is Houston Astros pitching prospect Jordan Jankowski.
The right-hander was taken by Houston in the 34th round of the MLB draft out of high school in 2008. However, he elected to attend Catawba College in North Carolina and passed on a chance to go pro. The team never forgot him, and four years later in 2012, the they once again used their 34th-round selection to nab the hurler. This time he signed and has steadily progressed through their system, looking more and more likely each year like a pitcher who will have a chance to play at the major league level.
In three professional seasons, Jankowski is a combined 12-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 90 games (26 starts). He has struck out an impressive 10.1 batters per nine innings and shows excellent control. Although he has started and relieved, it remains undetermined where his ultimate home will be. Having reached Double-A in 2014, the 25-year-old is knocking on the door of the big league team, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him there soon.
Last offseason, I had an opportunity to ask Jankowski some questions. Keep reading for more from this Astros prospect, who may soon be plying his craft in Houston.
Jordan Jankowski Interview:
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I'd say it was Ken Griffey Jr. I was a hitter until the second time I got drafted, and I loved his swing. I used to try and be like him with the backwards hat during BP in the back yard with my dad!
What do you believe are the primary sacrifices you have had to make to get so far in baseball?: You need to realize early that you can't do what other kids do. I grew up in Pittsburgh and I wasn't allowed to play football, go skiing or snowboarding. I wasn't allowed to do much with my friends but it kept me on the right path and helped me stay healthy. I wouldn't say choosing who my friends were was such a sacrifice but you need to surround yourself with the right people to stay on path.
Was it just a coincidence that the Astros drafted you in the 34th round in both 2008 and 2012, or did they follow you throughout?: I think it was just a coincidence. It was funny it happened that way. I was just blessed to get drafted twice by such a great organization!
What pitches do you throw and which do you think you need to work on the most?: I throw a four-seam, two-seam, changeup, spike curveball, and a slider. I believe that I need to work on my changeup control the most. Going to a Division II school, I really didn't need my changeup that much and I really never got to develop it. In pro ball, it is a different story, and a changeup has really opened up more pitch-ability options for me.
How much talking to the minor league players do when news of MLB vets signing big contracts comes out?: We really don't talk about it much. I try and just focus on what I can do and helping my team win. We really don't watch much TV and when we do we just want to relax.
Do you believe you will ultimately be more successful as a starter or reliever, and why?: I'm not sure but I am happy with the chance to do both. It is very pleasing to have the opportunity to show that I can start and relieve. I am grateful that the Astros have given me both opportunities to develop as both.
What is the most impressive thing you have either done or seen on a baseball diamond?: I am impressed on a daily basis. The game of baseball is wonderful. You see new things in every game and it is really a treat to watch such talented players play a game. I did experience my first triple play in person this year and that was really special.
What are some things you like to do outside of baseball?: I have been doing workouts from Cressey Performance. I like learning how I can prepare myself better for the upcoming season. Also, I like to hang out with my family and fiancé as during the season I do not see them much. I like to keep in touch with my teammates to see how their offseason is going for the next year. I am a big Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins fan so when they are on, I will be watching!
You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew