Friday, January 27, 2017

The Biscuit Is Cool - An Interview with Steve Ascher

Biscuits pitcher Steve Ascher was drafted in 2014 and since then the Cutchogue, New York native has quickly worked his way up through the Rays affiliates.

Last year the southpaw hurler appeared in 26 games for Montgomery and made three starts - including the historic combined No-Hitter against the Jackson Generals. It was the third No-Hit trick turned in Biscuits history and the first one with multiple pitchers shouldering the load.

Recently Steve was kind enough to answer a few questions on topics both baseball and Biscuits!

Q: You were with the team coming out of spring training last year, how did you learn you were going to be a Biscuit?
A: The last few days of Spring Training, as teams are breaking, the organization puts up the rosters on a bulletin board and that's how we all find out.
Q: How do you feel about "cute" team names? Do players gain or lose morale playing for teams named Biscuits or Jumbo Shrimp or Baby Cakes?
A: You kind of learn to roll with it and enjoy it. I don't think you lose or gain morale from it. Plus the biscuit is cool!

Q: Whats the biggest adjustment for a player coming from Pt.Charlotte to Montgomery?
A: The biggest adjustment from High-A to Double A is mostly you have to work both sides of the plate with your fastball as well as being able to throw any pitch in any count. The hitters are much more patient and are more mature hitters.

Q: When you arrived in Montgomery, what were your impressions of the ballpark, or the city in general? Was it what you expected?
A: I wasn't really sure what to expect. The stadium is very unique and I love how it's worked into downtown. When my parents visited we did some exploring of the city and it was actually pretty fun!

1885 view of what is now Riverwalk Stadium on left

RC Lichtenstein
Q: What is it like working with the Biscuits pitching coach RC Lichtenstein?
A: It's great, working with new pitching coaches and picking their brains to see what little things you can do to be the best pitcher you can be is always an advantage.

Q: You started the No-Hitter game vs the Generals at Jackson on short notice, the first combined NoNo in Skitz history. How did you prepare for that start and how did you celebrate afterwards? 
A: Honestly I tried to keep it the same as a relief appearance. I knew I wasn't going to throw as many pitches as I did the last two starts so it would just be a few innings. And we didn't really celebrate like a normal no hitter, Brady just congratulated us and gave the 4 pitchers each a beer to celebrate with.

Q: On the no hitter, did you change your approach knowing you wouldn't have as many pitches to work with, pitching to contact more?
A: Jackson was a great hitting team, I just made sure to mix my pitches up and I remember throwing a lot of changeups that they just rolled over.

Q: I know you made the best catch of your career this offseason, congratulations on your marriage to Stephanie. Not really a question there but definitely a great moment worth mentioning!
A: Thank you very much! We headed to Negril, Jamaica for a week after! Best vacation ever!

Q: With just a few weeks to go before spring training, how do you prepare for camp? 
A: I've been throwing for the past 3 weeks and I'll start throwing bullpens next week. Been focusing big time on my core and leg strength as well as conditioning.

Q:  Fans are hoping to see you back with the Biscuits this April. What do you expect from the upcoming season, do you set personal goals or just let it happen as it happens?
A: I try to control what I can. Which is working as hard as I can to be the best pitcher and teammate I can be, and wherever the organization places me I will compete to the best of my ability!
But my goals are always high!

Q: Last question, a two part - what was your first MLB game attended and who were your fave players growing up?
Andy Pettitte
A: My first MLB game I couldn't tell you exactly. It was definitely a Yankees game and it was either with my family or with one of my best friends and his dad, 5 rows up from 1st base!

And one of my favorite players was always Andy Pettitte because as a lefty I looked up to how he could work with 88-90 and still dominate.

Q: Thanks so much, Steve, that is awesome! Is there anything you want to say or someone you want to give a shout out to before we wrap up?
A: Nope all set! Thank you Shane. I am really looking forward to getting down to Spring Training and continuing to strive for my goal and dream of being in the big leagues!

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