Drafted in 2006, Jeff Luhnow called Adam Reifer the “sleeper of the draft”. No one is sleeping on him any longer, as Baseball America rated him the top pitcher of the NY Penn League. Armed with a 95-99 MPH fastball, a nasty hard slider and an abundance of confidence, he helped steer Batavia to their league’s championship. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Reifer for a little Q and A.
Congrats on winning the NYPL championship. Can you describe the experience of winning it all?
Winning the NY-Penn was an awesome experience. It was the first championship that I have ever won, so this will forever stick out in my mind, especially being out there to close out the game. And to do it with the guys we had on our team just made that much more special. We had one of the best group of guys that I have ever been a part of.
How would you describe Adam Reifer, the ballplayer?
Adam Reifer the ballplayer is intense and wants no one to get an edge on his game. He wants to be the best and will stop at nothing to try an get there.
And Adam Reifer the person?
Adam Reifer the person is laid back and takes life as it comes. He tries not to take life to seriously because life is short and stress could make it shorter.
What was the key to your success this past season?
The key to my success would be my dedication to let nothing get the best of me, because I did start this year on a sour note by not coming out of the gates healthy. But I knew I was better than that, and knew what kind of pitcher I was. I knew I would get through that bump in the road.
Baseball America ranked you the best pitcher in the NY Penn League. What does that mean to you?
Being ranked by BA as the best pitcher lets me know all the hard work I have done to be best has paid off. It also means a whole lot that I have been recognized by my peers and higher end guys that I was the top pitcher in the league.
How would you define a “closer’s mentality”?
I define a “closers mentality” as a cocky mentality. A closer tries and lets nothing get the best of them. They go out there for an inning or maybe more and they give it their all. You go out there giving your best every pitch and want no one to beat you because you really know there is no one better than you out there on the mound.
What is going through your mind when your called to record the last three outs?
When I get called to record the last three outs I am not thinking a whole lot, actually. A lot of my thought process comes before I’m called out there. I start preparing myself in about the 7th inning when I kind of separate myself from the the rest of the bullpen. A lot of my thought process is that I tell myself I am the best, and the other team has no chance. I begin to grow a hatred for the other team as well. I do a lot of things basically to build myself up. So when I actually get the call to go out there, everything now is just how I react than actually think.
What would you say was the most important thing you learned this past season?
Most important thing I learned would probably don’t get to ahead of myself. Take each day and outing as it comes because they are all different.
Is there a closer in the big leagues that you particularly enjoy watching?
Jonathan Papelbon is my favorite pitcher and favorite closer. I just love his intensity, the way he goes after every hitter with authority and he has electric stuff. He’s a pitcher I try to model myself after, but I want to better and just want to be me.
Give me your quick prediction – Who do you think wins the league championship series, who do you think will win it all, and why?
I think the Dodgers have a real good chance to win even though they are down 2-0 now, but I just think they have some firepower and have a lot of momentum still that can take them to the World Series. The Rays would be my pick in the ALCS because they are just a complete team and I just really want them to go. To win the whole thing…I will say the Dodgers will win even though I really want the Rays to win it all.
Thanks to Adam for taking the time to talk with us. I would say he has a very good shot at rocketing through the system given his stuff and demeanor.