Interview with 2012 Draft Pick, Joe Cuda

Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

The latest interview from Viva El Birdos is with Joe Cuda, the Cardinals' 27th round draft pick from 2012. The 24-year-old pitcher saw time in Peoria (A) and Palm Beach (A+) last season. He may return to Palm Beach in 2014, but there is a chance he starts the season with Springfield.

To date, I have interviewed Kodi Medeiros (2014 Draft prospect), Lee Stoppelman (minor league reliever), and Kurt Heyer (minor league starter) since joining Viva El Birdos. Today's interview post will be on Joe Cuda, the Cardinals' 27th round draft pick from 2012. Cuda has made 35 starts in the minors since being drafted and has pitched at three different levels.

LEVEL

TEAM

G

GS

IP

BABIP

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

SIERA

A-

Batavia

13

13

60.2

.343

7.9

1.6

4.15

2.84

3.28

A

Peoria

15

15

75.2

.398

9.2

2.1

4.28

2.65

3.13

A+

Palm Beach

7

7

38.2

.275

6.8

1.4

1.40

2.17

3.65

Quick note: These statistics were retrieved from www.minorleaguecentral.com. However, they were missing one of his starts from Peoria, so I filled in the gap using his statistics on milb.com. His FIPs were exceptional at all three levels, and he did a tremendous job limiting his walks while maintaining a solid strikeout rate. The 5'9", 24-year-old right-hander may be from a small school (Eckerd College) in Florida, but that didn't keep him from making a big splash while with Palm Beach in 2013. He posted some of the best pitching numbers in the entire Cardinals farm system to close out the season with Palm Beach.

As with my Heyer interview, I started with some funny questions and worked my way up to some more serious, baseball-related questions:

Viva El Birdos: What’s your favorite flavor of Big League Chew?

Joe Cuda: I’m honestly a huge gum fan during baseball games, so this is a very fitting question. I always chew gum when I pitch. I feel like it helps relax me. I would have to say that grape is my favorite flavor of Big League Chew.

VEB: What’s your take on the last Muppet’s movie?

JC: I have not seen the latest Muppet’s movie. I do really enjoy watching documentaries on Netflix though. I’m a huge fan of learning about as much stuff as I can.

VEB: What’s your opinion of the band, Heart?

JC: They are awesome! I think I’m a little partial, but they made a really cool song called Barracuda. I used to have it as my walkout song pitching during summer ball in Staunton, VA.

VEB: Which side of the rubber do you stand on and why?

JC: I pitch from the first base side of the rubber. I feel that I am able to comfortably repeat my delivery, as well as hide the ball a bit better than if I was in the middle or on the third base side.

VEB: What’s the best prank (by you or someone else) pulled in the minors so far?

JC: I’m not much of a prankster, but this year in Palm Beach I witnessed what I believe to be one of the best pranks in baseball. Guys would fill up a small cup with water and then put gum around the rim of the cup. What happens next is pranking at its best. They would find another teammate sitting on the bench and then stick the cup above their head. The gum eventually wears off and the cup falls, splashing water on the unsuspecting target!

VEB: You performed well all of 2013, but it appears you did extremely well to close out 2013 with Palm Beach. Did you switch something up mechanically or did things just fall into place for you?

JC: Thank you for saying that. I really didn’t make any big mechanical changes, but I was able to have some success and gain some confidence. It also really helped having a great defense behind me. I try to pitch to contact, so I’m very grateful for all of the position guys behind me.

VEB: What's the thing the organization has deemed most important to your development?

JC: I think that the organization just wants me to continue to be the same pitcher that I have always been. I’m not a flame thrower, but I try to focus on locating all of my pitches and keeping the hitters off balance.

VEB: What does your offseason workout regimen consist of?

JC: I’m fortunate to be living in Florida where I’m surrounded by a very baseball friendly environment. My regimen consists of waking up early and getting my throwing program started. After that, I go to the gym to stretch, lift, and run. I also go back to my former college (Eckerd College) to help out and throw bullpens when I need to throw to a catcher.

VEB: Which major league pitcher do you model your pitching style after?

JC: I don’t know if I model my pitching style after any one specific big leaguer. I like to take bits and pieces from a bunch of different guys. I try to be a student of the game and notice what the most successful pitchers in the big leagues are doing, and then I try to implement those qualities in my routine/mechanics.

VEB: What are your top 3 goals for this season, statistically?

JC: My top three goals for the upcoming season are…

  1. To earn a promotion at some point throughout the season
  2. Make an All-star team
  3. And to win a championship

VEB: Describe your repertoire? Which pitch is your favorite and which needs most work?

JC: My repertoire consists of a fastball, change up, curveball, and a slider. My favorite pitch is a strike hahah. I pride myself on being able to change speeds and locate all of my pitches. My worst pitch right now is my slider. It can be a bit loose at times, and I would eventually like to turn it in to more of a cutter than a slider.

VEB: Where are you starting the year at? (If they even have told you yet…)

JC: I’m not really sure where I’m going to start this year. I just try to focus on the things that I can control and leave the rest up the organization. I would really love to start in Springfield, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if I started in Palm Beach. My plan is to go into spring training and pitch to the best of my ability.

VEB: One coach and one teammate that has helped you most so far in the minor leagues?

JC: I’ve learned a lot of things from several teammates and coaches throughout our organization, but Jason Simontacchi has made a huge impact on my pitching career. I was very fortunate to be able to have him as a pitching coach in Peoria. I really feel that I had success in Palm Beach because I was able to execute a lot of the stuff I learned during my time in Peoria. I also learned a lot form Kurt Heyer. We were throwing partners in Peoria and I was able to learn a lot from all of his success.

VEB: Who has been your favorite catcher so far?

JC: All of the catchers that I’ve had so far have done an amazing job. If I have to name a favorite, I would say it is a tie between Casey Rasmus and Jesus Montero. They both have different qualities, but they both have a great understanding of the game.

VEB: How often are you able to keep track of the big league Cardinals during the season?

JC: I try to watch as many Cardinals games as possible. Those guys are best way to learn how to play the game the right way. This past post season was especially exciting.

All of us at Viva El Birdos thank Joe for his time in answering these questions. We wish him the best in the 2014 season and beyond.

You can find Joe on Twitter: @JCuda24


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