Six years into his minor league career, left-handed relief pitcher Ryan Sherriff has quietly put together the best season of his professional career -- at the minor league's highest level with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. In response to the big-league promotion of Sam Tuivailala, Sherriff was rewarded for his first-half performance with a nomination to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team. The game took place last night, and Sherriff retired the only batter he faced via groundout.
- Throws: Left
- Height: 6'1"
- Weight: 185 pounds
- Born: May 25, 1990 (26 years old)
- College: West Los Angeles College (Culver City, CA)
- How Acquired: 28th round of 2011 MLB Draft
2016 Triple-A Statistics
Given his repertoire (you'll read about it below), Sherriff strikes out hitters more frequently than you'd think. That being said, he is notorious for inducing ground balls, and his 63% ground ball rate (via Baseball Prospectus) would rank just outside the top five of MLB relief pitchers at present, and right behind Matt Bowman's 63.8%. Of note, per Sherriff's player card on MiLB.com, left-handed hitters have mustered only a .121 batting average against him this season.
Viva El Birdos: You appear to have really turned a corner this season -- making the Triple-A All-Star team -- does one adjustment stand out to you or is it more just a culmination of development?
Ryan Sherriff: The only thing I have done differently this year is drop my arm angle. I did not think it would bring me this much success. I just knew I needed to try something new.
VEB: Despite being all the way up in Triple-A, not everyone has seen you pitch just yet, thus can you describe your repertoire?
RS: Sinker, sinker, sinker.
VEB: This is probably a dumb question, then, but
two three on, two out, two strikes, with the bases loaded and a right-handed hitter at the plate, which pitch do you turn to?
VEB: You have now been in the minor leagues for parts of six season. What is your favorite part about being a minor leaguer? And least favorite part?
RS: My favorite part is just learning about myself and who I am. My least favorite part is the travel.
VEB: Do you mind sharing the significance/meaning behind your tattoo sleeve?
RS: The lower half consists of the passing of my father, and the upper half is a significance of happiness.
VEB: How often do you and your teammates watch the big-league Cardinals while your own season is taking place?
RS: Whenever it is on in the locker room.
VEB: What are your thoughts on advanced metrics and their place in the game of baseball?
RS: Advanced metrics are cool, but I also believe in passion, hard work, and dedication. You can't take those away from somebody just because the metrics say they can't be a big leaguer. You will never know until they are up there.
VEB: Take us back to the day the organization told you that they were transitioning you from a starting role to the bullpen, what specifically did they say and how did you feel at the time?
RS: It was in spring training, and they just said, "Sorry, you're a reliever now." I said, "Uh...all right." Lol.
VEB: If you were forced to spend a year on a deserted island with one your teammates -- past or present -- who would it be and why?
RS: Definitely John Brebbia. The guy is hilarious.
Editor's Response: I have no idea about Brebbia's survival skills, but at the very least Sherriff would be entertained.
VEB: Based on your Twitter feed, you're a budding Pokemaster on the new Pokemon Go app, what advice would you give to those still deciding whether or not to begin playing?
RS: Everybody needs to become a Pokemaster because "you gotta catch 'em all."
I thank Sherriff for taking the time to answer these questions for Viva El Birdos, especially considering he did not have time off for the All-Star break since he was an All-Star representative of the Memphis Redbirds. While he may not currently be on the 40-man roster, I could absolutely see some late-season shuffling of the roster to make him an option out of the MLB bullpen come September call-ups.
If interested, you can follow Sherriff on Twitter: @KingSherriff. He easily has one of the best baseball player accounts out there. Also, Sherriff was interviewed on the radio before a Redbirds' game last month here.