Pic via Perfect Game

MLB Draft Nine Innings with Jacob Heatherly

In the latest of our interview series at BPKC, I had a chance to interview Alabama High School pitcher Jacob Heatherly, a player I highlighted earlier this year in our It’s Never Too Early draft series. The young lefty has made himself into a top draft prospect after competing at a high level in a number of showcases and in high school. A Perfect Game All-American in 2016, Heatherly has continued to build his stock with his latest performance this past Friday night: A 13 strikeout, 3 walk no-hitter, the second of his career, as he continues to help lead his Cullman High School squad on their path to another state championship run.
1. You are a multi-sport kid. How do you feel the other sports you play have helped you with baseball and when did you realize baseball could be your future?
Well, I’ve played three sports my whole life. I played football until 9th and gave up football after my 9th-grade year. I played basketball also until my junior year, so I gave that up after my junior year to focus on baseball my senior year. But, I’d say playing multi-sports all my life has helped me to be a more well-rounded athlete and a more physical athlete. Now, when I realized baseball would be my future was I’d say during the spring of my sophomore season. I really grew up that year. I was the number two in the rotation my sophomore year and we won state that year so that was a really special year to me and I really think that’s when I grew up and knew I could have a future in baseball. Also, the summer of my sophomore year I started to hit 89 mph was offered by Bama. Since then I have been on my journey towards a baseball future.
2. Your school, Cullman High, is a real powerhouse in baseball in Alabama. What is it like to play for a program with the type of tradition that you’re building there?
Playing for Cullman is very surreal. It’s truly an honor to play at such a place where the whole community cares about baseball here, and they love to come watch and support us. Just to wear Cullman across my chest on and off the field is the utmost honor and I wouldn’t take any second for granted. It’s also great to play with such great teammates and to have such great coaches who don’t only just care about you as a player but also as a person. They want you to be your best and live life the right way. Everybody is so encouraging and so supportive. I thank God most of all for that. At Cullman, we have high expectations. We expect to win state every year that’s just us. We expect to outwork everybody in the nation, and that’s where the results come from. Not only hard work but the relationships we build. One team one heartbeat.
3. Being at a school that has won multiple state championships (4 in 15 years) puts a target on your back against the competition. How does that help you when you take the mound if at all?
Being at a school that has won multiple state championships like Cullman is awesome and I love having a target on my back every day. Wouldn’t have it any other way. This really pushes me to never take a day off or a pitch off cause it doesn’t matter who, where, or when we are playing. I love it, I love having a target on my back cause that’s where my team and I strive at our best. Like I said I wouldn’t have it any other way.
4. How has your HS pitching coach helped you develop? How do you work with your HS coaches and differentiate what they may say from your travel ball coaches?
My HS pitching coach has helped me so much in my development as a pitcher. He hasn’t only really just been my HS pitching coach either, he’s been watching me and helping me since I was a little kid. I couldn’t be more appreciative of him (Shannon Fondren).  I like to watch film of when I’m throwing all the time and see what I did wrong, so the next time out I can correct those mistakes. But Coach Fondren is great with helping me develop my pitches and most importantly building my command. And my travel ball coaches I’ve had my whole life haven’t really been any different either. They just all encourage me and push me to be my best every day. They all really try to help me develop my pitches and work on my command and how to attack hitters. They also work with me a lot on my mechanics year round.
5. What training program do you like to employ?
Well, I did Driveline for the first time this fall and loved it. But I like to do the Jaeger bands and long toss a lot. Bands every day, stretch everyday, core every day. I like to work out my legs and back a lot also, but I do some upper body too… just don’t over do it. It’s pretty hard to list certain specifics of it but that’s the gist of what I do.
6. What have you learned from using Driveline? How has it helped your game?
I’ve just learned that it builds arm strength, but that it isn’t the only thing that makes you throw hard, there are other intangibles that make you throw harder like flexibility, a strong core, strong legs, and mechanics. It has just helped me gain more arm strength and build velocity.
7. You mentioned previously to me that you model your game after Clayton Kershaw. Obviously, he’s the best pitcher in the game but what specifically would you like to simulate?
What I love so much about Kershaw, is that he is just a bulldog type competitor on the mound. He attacks hitters with his fastball, and he has an electric fastball with great life on it. He also loves to throw his big breaking curveball that’s so good. He can really pitch and dot pitches up where he wants. He doesn’t walk many people at all. I just like to simulate the same bulldog mentality he has on the mound and really attack hitters with my fastball as well. I think my curveball I’ve been working so hard on all year for this spring is going to be somewhat similar to Clayton’s as well, and I’m in love with my curveball right now. I also like to take in the same type command as him and really try to dot pitches up.
8. The scouting report reads that you have a better than average fastball with a good slider, curve and feel for a change up. What do you need to do to improve those pitches and what steps are you doing to perform this?
Mechanics all had things to do with developing my pitches more this offseason such as stride length and finishing my pitches better. Just really trying to get out front with a repeatable delivery. I’ve really worked hard on my lower body this offseason to help further develop my pitches. I really believe it has helped a lot also and I know the results will show this spring.
9. Lastly, you watched fellow Alabama prep pitcher Braxton Garrett go #7 last year in the draft. How do you feel about the draft? Do you make that a goal or competition to go as high or higher than fellow draftees and former draftees with your competitive spirit?
Watching Braxton go in the draft was cool to see, and it was well deserved for Brax. I like the draft and I think it’s a great deal and a fun time for the players and their families. I don’t necessarily make a goal to go higher than the other person. But I do make a goal for myself to be the best as I can possibly be. And that is to be the best. Nobody else my goal is to be the best. And I truly believe great things will happen if I just take care of myself and have fun. I have high expectations for myself though and I expect to be the best, not just the best left-handed pitcher but I expect to be the best and that’s it.
Main picture via Perfect Game
Related Articles