SHANKS: This is your first full spring training, so how is it going?
HYDE: It’s going real good. Definitely tiring, but I’m really enjoying it. I was ready to get down here. I’ve never had that much time off before. I was ready to get down here and get to work.
SHANKS: This has been a wild last twelve months for you, playing in the College World Series for Georgia Tech and then being drafted by the Braves.
HYDE: Yeah it has been wild. I grew up a Georgia Tech fan. I got to go play baseball at Georgia Tech. I grew up a Braves fan, and found out I got drafted by the Braves. So it’s been kind of a dream come true for me. I got to play in the College World Series after the draft, so it’s been a good past twelve months for me.
SHANKS: Recap your history as far as being a starter and reliever.
HYDE: I always started in high school. I got to Georgia Tech and as a freshman I started out in the bullpen. About halfway through that year I ended up starting a midweek game against Purdue. And then I threw against Georgia the following week. I kind of started the rest of the year. I think it was nine (starts) my freshman year. My sophomore year I started the whole season. I started the year starting my junior year, and then the coaches wanted to make a swap. Tim Gustafson, who is now with the Braves, was in the bullpen and I was starting. They thought it would be best for the team to flip-flop us. So I went to the bullpen for about half the year. When the ACC tournament came around they moved me back to the starting rotation.
SHANKS: Is it difficult to go back and forth like that?
HYDE: It was difficult just because it’s two different mindsets. You always know when you’re going to throw when you’re starting. The bullpen is just different. You could throw anytime. So it’s more mental than anything. It was tough, but I got used to it.
SHANKS: A lot of times that’s college baseball.
HYDE: Yeah. Definitely.
SHANKS: What do you prefer: starting or relieving?
HYDE: There are plusses to both of them. I like starting cause I know when I’m going to pitch and I can prepare myself all week to get ready for it. But then there’s nothing like the adrenaline rush that you get coming out of the bullpen in a tight situation. I like doing both. I can’t say really say which one I like doing more.
SHANKS: When you were drafted the Braves believed you were the best lefty reliever in college baseball. Then four days later you go out against Clemson and have that great start. That game may have made them wonder if you were more of a starter than a reliever.
HYDE: Yeah I think until this year I was destined for the bullpen because I only had a fastball and slider. Then I kind of developed my changeup last year, which made it a lot easier for me to go through the lineup two or three times cause I had three pitches to show them and they couldn’t sit on fastballs and sliders. So I think me developing that changeup helped me out a lot.
SHANKS: Where did you develop the change, at Tech or with the Braves?
HYDE: My junior year with Tech. I’ve always had one, but I never threw it in games. I was just never comfortable with it. I worked on it my sophomore year at Cape Cod. I just threw it cause I knew I needed to throw it. So I started developing it then and then in the fall at Tech. That helped me out a lot.
SHANKS: How fast is your fastball?
HYDE: About 90-92. Coming out of the pen I’ll throw a little harder just because your adrenaline and stuff. But if I’m starting I’m around 89-91, 92.
SHANKS: So where do you think the Braves are leaning now with you? As a starter or reliever?
HYDE: Honestly I have no clue. I think there’s a chance I could start and there’s a chance I could be out of the bullpen. So I don’t know which way they are leaning. I just want to do the best job I can wherever they put me.
SHANKS: What’s it like to be here with all this instruction and all this competition? There are 100 guys walking around here with red jerseys (pitchers) on.
HYDE: I love competition. I feed off competition. I’m a real competitive guy. I hate to lose to ping-pong to my brother. We use to get in fights all the time when he would beat me in ping-pong. So I love the competition. It’s great with all the instruction you get cause there’s just so many people that know so much and they’ve been around the game so long. It’s fun to just take bits and pieces from not only the coaches, but the guys that have been around a while. They teach you stuff too. It’s nice.
SHANKS: The Braves have really stressed going after college relievers lately in the draft. Can you sense they want to get some college guys with experience?
HYDE: I think so. I know coming out of high school I was being looked at (by scouts) a little bit. I know I learned a lot in college – mentally and physically. I learned a lot about the game playing in the Cape Cod League. So I think a lot of guys coming out of college have a little more wisdom, and that’s not to say some high school guys don’t have that. I think it helps to have a guy like Joey Devine from N.C. State, who pitched in the big leagues right after he got drafted. I think that works cause I played against him in college and he’s got great stuff and he’s mentally tough. So it’s good to move them quick when they’re ready.
SHANKS: Did you feel last summer when you were in Rome that you could handle the Sally League and that the college experience you had prepared you to do well there?
HYDE: Yeah I think so. A lot of baseball, pitching especially, is confidence and pitching to an aluminum bat in the ACC, which is a pretty good conference. If you can get those guys out, pitching to wood bats is a little easier. I know these guys that are pro guys are sometimes bigger and stronger than the guys in the ACC, but pitching to a wooden bat made it a little easier for me mentally knowing I could get them out. If you’re confidence is good, you’re going to pitch well. If it’s down, you’re going to struggle. I definitely felt going in I could pitch well there.
SHANKS: Do you think you can make the jump to Myrtle Beach this season?
HYDE: I think I can make the jump. I feel like I could do it, but I have to prove myself out here to all the coaches and scouts and all the people watching. I feel like I can do it. I’ve worked a lot on the mental side of the game in the past year just trying to think positive thoughts when I’m out there. I think that’s helped me out a lot. So I think I can do it, but I still have to prove myself out here.
SHANKS: When I watched you on that Friday afternoon game against Clemson in the College World Series, you looked like you really had an idea of what you were doing out there. Do you feel that experience in college has helped you in that regard?
HYDE: Definitely. In high school we didn’t really have a scouting report when we pitched. When I got to college we had scouting reports of the teams we were playing. I had a tendency to kind of pitch toward their weaknesses, instead of pitching toward my strengths. So I learned in the time I was there and even in pro ball that you’ve got to pitch toward my strengths. You can know hitters’ tendencies and stuff, but don’t get out of your game. Plus we had played Clemson about five or six times going in, so I had a good idea of what guys liked to hit and what they do in certain counts.
SHANKS: Where exactly did you grow up?
HYDE: Fayetteville, Georgia just south of Atlanta.
SHANKS: So did you go to a lot of games growing up?
HYDE: I went to a lot of games at Fulton County Stadium. I remember when they tore it down. Yeah I’ve been to a lot of Braves games in my life.
SHANKS: Who was your favorite player growing up?
HYDE: I was a big Glavine fan, being a left-handed pitcher. I was a big Glavine fan.
SHANKS: How many games would you go to in a year?
HYDE: I went to a lot more when I was younger and then I started playing a lot when I got into high school. But we went to 20 or 30 games a year when I was little. I was a big fan.
SHANKS: So this is a dream for you. Did you know they wanted you last spring?
HYDE: Yeah. They were pretty high on me out of high school. I got to know Al Goetz really well and met Roy Clark and Paul Snyder. Then again once the draft started rolling around I talked with Al a lot and they were pretty high on me. I was hoping they’d get me and they did, so it was good to be drafted by the Braves.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.