Photo Credit: GoCreighton.Com
If you’re going to be successful against Nick Highberger, he’s going to make you work for it. Highberger pitches with a very specific attitude: throw strikes and “if guys get hits they get hits…make them earn everything they get.”
The Rye, Colorado native grew up a Rockies fan but knows to make room in his heart now for the team that selected him in the MLB Draft on Saturday, June 11th.
Taken in Round 30 by the Oakland Athletics, the Creighton Junior pitcher carries an impressive résumé (7.32 H/9 in Junior season) and even more impressive mindset into the Major Leagues.
How did you find out you were drafted?
I was actually sitting at home (Rye, Colorado) and we were listening on MLB.Com. I actually stepped outside just for a second and my whole family ran outside saying ‘your name just got called! your name just got called!’
Then I looked on Twitter and my name was up there, then about ten seconds later Oakland called me.
Career ERA of 2.84 in 108 games, what were the keys to success at Creighton?
At Creighton the main piece of success for all the pitchers is just throw strikes. My freshman and sophomore year I didn’t really have anything but a two-seam fastball and all I did was just throw a bunch of strikes. Once I got a breaking ball and learned how to pitch a bit more I just kept throwing strikes. I wasn’t too worried about guys getting hits off of me as I long as I was throwing strikes I would be successful.
That’s not just for me really, that’s basically the motto and keys to success for all the pitchers at Creighton, to throw strikes. If guys get hits they get hits, but make them earn everything that they get.
Add anything to your repertoire during college?
As far as pitches that I throw, not really. Mechanics they didn’t change much for me, I didn’t all the sudden change my arm motion when I got to Creighton. But I did learn a slider and worked on a change-up.
2015 Cape Cod experience (4-0, 0.37 ERA in 24 IP)?
When I went out there I wasn’t on a full contract, I was on a temp. Right when I got out there I knew I had to pitch really well to stay on the team. I really wanted to stay out there for the summer, I knew it was the place to be for College Baseball players. I told myself ‘don’t worry about guys getting hits, just go up there and throw as hard as you can and throw strikes and whatever happens happens. Just go up there and compete and work your tail off.’
Right now I’m getting everything organized at home, packing today and saying my goodbyes. I head out to Arizona tomorrow to sign my contract and get organized there. We’re having a mini-camp with all the draft picks.
Did you grow up a Rockies fan?
I did! It was hard being a Rockies fan sometimes, but I definitely grew up one. I followed them. I would go to Coors Field. When the Rockies Triple-A team was in Colorado Springs I would go out there and watch Tulo [former Colorado and current Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki] play there.
So now you’re an A’s fan, right?
I guess I have to be. *laughs* Now I’m a die hard A’s fan. The Rockies are the team I grew up watching, that’s how I’ll remember it.