January 22, 2014
After getting drafted, players are excited to join their new organization and are eager to see where they will be placed to start their professional careers. This anticipation was no different for left-handed reliever Chad Girodo, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 9th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
“Being drafted was a big surprise. I had no idea I was going to go in the 9th round,” he said. “I really had no idea when I was going to go specifically, but it was a very happy time for sure. I was excited to start pitching with the Blue Jays!”
While the former Mississippi State Bulldog had already pitched 59 2/3 innings in the NCAA, the left-hander was sent to play for the Lansing Lugnuts – the Blue Jays Midwest low-A affiliate – to start his career. It was a huge thrill for the Hartselle, Alabama native who was fulfilling his dream of playing professional baseball.
“I was very excited,” said the 22-year-old, smiling. “I could’ve gone to some other leagues, but for them to put me in the Midwest League right out of college is a blessing.”
In Lansing, Girodo went 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA. Showing great command, Girodo walked just five batters for the Lugnuts while striking out 24.
“I feel my season went well. It felt good getting my feet wet in pro ball. It’s definitely different than what I’m used to. It’s been fun and a learning experience I can take into spring training next year.”
As the season progressed in Lansing, Girodo figured out how to pitch better at the professional level. Focusing on getting more movement on his fastball and locating pitches at different parts of the plate definitely helped in outings late in the season.
“I figured out how to get movement on my fastball in Lansing. It took a little bit of time because professional baseballs have smaller seams than college baseballs, so there was a bit of a learning curve there.”
“In this league if you leave a fastball over the plate it’s going to get hit hard, so I learned how to pitch better by locating pitches on-and-off the plate. You have to be more mentally strong at this level for sure.”
Girodo felt he benefited greatly and learned a lot about the game while working with former Major Leaguer and current Lansing Lugnuts’ pitching coach Vince Horsman.
“Vince has a ton of knowledge. He’s been where you are many times. Rather you’re struggling or having success he always has a solution for you. He always keeps you on the right foot,” said Girodo. “Being a lefty, it’s easier working with another lefty. It’s easier to relate and communicate with him because we’re both left-handed.”
Always enjoying the opportunity to work with another left-hander, Horsman discussed Girodo’s development as he transitioned to low-A affiliate baseball.
“[Girodo] is a crafty little left-hander. Nothing really blows you away as far as his pitches go, but he keeps his stuff down and gets outs. He has nice sink to his fastball and a decent breaking ball. He’s fun to watch.”
Interestingly enough, Girodo was the second pick from Mississippi State University by the Blue Jays and draftee to be sent to Lansing as his teammate and friend Kendall Graveman (interviewed here) was taken by the Jays in the previous round. Girodo enjoyed the opportunity to get into professional baseball with somebody he knows well.
“It’s always great to get into professional baseball with somebody you know. We both spent four years together at Mississippi State as part of the same recruiting class. Then being drafted by the same team was cool. I already knew somebody before joining the team.”
Like Graveman, Girodo spent four seasons at Mississippi State where he spent time as a starter and a reliever Prior to the draft. Playing as a freshman in 2010, Girodo went 2-3 with a 7.40 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings of work. In his time there, however, Girodo would show significant improvement after a stellar season in the 2012 California Collegiate League with the San Luis Obispo Blues, posting a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings of work.
That success in the California Collegiate League helped to springboard Girodo into a breakout senior season at Mississippi State. In 2013, Girodo was 9-1 with a 1.36 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings of work. There is no question that Girodo was a key piece to the Bulldogs bullpen which helped lead their team to the College World Series finals.
“I loved it at Mississippi State. It was a great four years. I had a great coach and made a lot of new friends. My teammates were all great as well.”
“Playing in the College World Series was awesome. Making it there and winning it all was our goal,” he said. “We made it there and fell a little bit short in the finals, but just making it that far was a blessing and a ton of fun.”
With the 2013 season in the books, Girodo is prepared to have a successful off-season to help prepare him for 2014.
“This off-season I’m going home to workout. I’ll probably make a couple trips back-and-forth to school to catch some football games, but I’m going to work out at home and with a trainer. My strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi State helps me train. He’s a good guy and I’ve known him for four years so I’ll work with him a bit and he’ll keep me on track.”
“I’m really excited to see what I can do in 2014.”