Junior pitcher Matt Grace talked about the MLB Draft after getting drafted by the Washington Nationals in the eighth round on Tuesday.
What was Draft Day like for you?UCLA Athletics
Grace: I had been hearing from a couple of teams throughout the day and in the morning. I thought I would be taken by other teams, maybe in the fifth or the sixth. When the Nationals took me with the first pick in the eighth, I was pretty surprised. I didn't really think I was going to be taken at that point, so I was a little frustrated at the time. I didn't expect it, but it was cool and I was excited about it.
You weren't drafted out of high school, so you're new to this. What are your initial thoughts?
Grace: Coming [to UCLA] was huge for developing. Coach [John] Savage, the way he develops pitchers, they way he knows how to get people out, is huge for me. I've been in a relief role, and although it's not an ideal spot for a lot of pitchers, I've found it and believed in it. It's been a cool experience. I'm way more ready for the pros now than when I was coming out of high school.
What's the relief role been like?
Grace: The past two years I made some starts on Tuesdays, but our pitching staff was nowhere near as deep as it is now. I think with Garett Claypool on Tuesdays, we've had a chance to win as many games as possible. Our entire team has been all about winning, all about trying to establish ourselves as a Bruin team that has done what no other team has done here. In order to do that, you have to make some sacrifices. I have no problem with the role I'm in right now. I'll take winning and what we're doing now over starting.
Do you have a preference between starting and relieving when you get to the minors?
Grace: It doesn't really matter to me. I can do both and both have their benefits -- with relieving you get a chance to play every day, there's always that chance that you're going to get in. Whatever the team wants me to do is what I'll do.