JP Feyereisen probably never expected to be in this position this quickly.
The 16th round draft pick in 2014 began his professional career with an exceptional 31 scoreless innings streak out of the bullpen, which helped rocket him through the organization. Now on the Double-A Akron Rubberducks after just two years in the Tribe farm system, the River Falls, Wisconsin native has a great chance of being the first Cleveland Indians 2014 pick to make it to the big leagues.
Feyereisen (pronounced 'Fire-rise-en) has been excellent this year, a perfect four for four in save opportunities, and has limited opposing hitters to a .196 batting average while collecting a stellar 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He's witnessed friend and fellow battery-mate Ben Heller get called up to Triple-A Columbus this past month and knows he's probably on the short list for a promotion soon, too.
The 23-year old spoke with Let's Go Tribe about his love for the outdoors, the Indians developmental program and his inspiration in this exclusive interview.
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Brian Hemminger (Let's Go Tribe): You're a big outdoorsman. Last year, you had a perfect pond to go fishing in Lynchburg. Have you found a good fishing hole yet in the Akron area?
JP Feyereisen: I haven't found a good fishing hole in Akron yet, but the host family I'm living with, their son is a big fisherman and he's gonna take me out on Lake Erie whenever he can. So I haven't gotten out there yet, but it's just because our schedules haven't lined up at this point. I've gone out on Lake Erie one time when I was in Mahoning Valley and have caught plenty of Walleye.
Brian Hemminger: What was it like to meet the real life Shooter McGavin at 'Happy Gilmore Night' in Akron a few weeks back? You seemed really excited about it in the photo you posted on Twitter.
JP Feyereisen: Oh man, it was really cool for everyone on the team. That's one of the movies we grew up with. I actually remember on a fishing trip to Canada, we had a VCR and a TV in the truck and the only movie we had was Happy Gilmore so I watched it on repeat like seven times over on the way to Canada so it was really cool to meet Shooter McGavin. I don't even know his real name [it's Christopher McDonald]. That's just who he is to me, he's Shooter. It was really cool that he did the Shooter gun pose too. You don't get to meet those type of people too often.
Brian Hemminger: You have a really strong connection to your home base at River Falls High School. You have a lot of support there, you're always tweeting about them and you guys just had another player drafted this year who played there.
JP Feyereisen: Yep, Alex Call, who went in the third round actually. My grandparents and both sides of my family grew up right around River Falls and in River Falls and my mom and dad both grew up in River Falls and I lived in the same house my entire life. I was born and raised there and it's all about home and the family and friends that I have there.
Brian Hemminger: What was it like making the transition from starting pitcher to reliever? You were a starter in college but you didn't really miss a beat and came out swinging with that amazing scoreless innings streak as a reliever after being drafted.
JP Feyereisen: It wasn't as difficult for me as for most people because I was actually a relief pitcher also in the Northwoods League for the Wisconsin Rapids so I kind of got a little bit of a feel for it there. It seemed like when you only go out there for one or two innings compared to starting, it's easier to just focus in on three or six outs instead of thinking about getting 21 outs or 24 outs with seven or eight innings. It just made it a lot easier on me being able to do that in the summer before.
Brian Hemminger: You're really known for that intensity on the mound. What do you kind of attribute that to?
JP Feyereisen: You have to be intense on the mound. You have to act like you're either better than the person in the box or you don't like the person in the box, one or the other. I think I like to have a presence and hopefully the batter sees me and fears me on the mound. That kind of intensity comes from my college coach too. He had that same type of attitude, just as intense as you can play, just that "F U" attitude. That's what you want to have. It came from my college coach especially but my high school coach preached mental toughness as well so that's why I have that intensity on the mound.
Brian Hemminger: Was there a specific player who you had that special intensity that you looked up to growing up as well?
JP Feyereisen: A lot of it actually was from the older guys on my college team. One guy ,in particular, his name was Cam Seidel. Him and three guys from my team came out to visit me in Akron. Cam's not playing anymore but when he was a junior while I was a freshman in college, he kind of had that big bulldog attitude and just that dominant presence on the mound of "I'm gonna come out and come after you every single pitch" to get every single out. Just being able to watch him and grow up playing with him helped me a lot.
Brian Hemminger: The Indians are really known for having a great developmental program, particularly with their pitching. Has that really positively affected you as well? Have you noticed any benefits?
JP Feyereisen: Oh for sure. The weighted ball program and all the drills and stuff we do just to get our velo up and our strength coaches and everybody are great. It's definitely helped me a lot. My velo has grown from when I was in college from an 89-92 guy to now I can easily sit around 93-96 so it's definitely helped me a lot.
Brian Hemminger: You have a close friendship with fellow reliever Ben Heller, who's also from Wisconsin and was called up to Columbus recently. You mentioned in a prior interview that he taught you a lot. What were some things specifically that he taught you?
JP Feyereisen: When you watch a guy like him pitch with the stuff that he has, you can realize that, while my stuff isn't quite as good as his, but it's similar, and the way he pitched on the mound, the way he attacked hitters, it was great learn from him and the dominance he had on the mound. When you sit in the bullpen and we had a chance to talk nine innings every single game when he was here, you just pick up certain things that helped him along the way that can hopefully help myself.
Brian Hemminger: I don't know how much you pay attention to what's been going on with the big league roster, but the back end of the bullpen has had some struggles lately. Do you ever think about that, like they could be calling your name any day now because they're always looking for extra help there. Is that something that's in the back of your mind?
JP Feyereisen: You could say no but everyone has that in the back of their mind. I just think the more you think about it, the more it's gonna hurt you. You've just got to get to the field, the ballpark every day and just go through your routine and get the things done that you can get done and then worry about the rest of that stuff later.
Brian Hemminger: Akron has been one of the best Double-A teams all season, but you guys had that vicious 12 game losing streak which just ended a few days ago. How good did it feel to put an end to that, especially with you picking up a win this past Sunday in extra innings?
JP Feyereisen: Oh man it felt really good, especially because one of the losses kind of came by my hand giving up a home run in one of the late innings. It felt real good to get over that losing streak and start playing ball like we were earlier in the year because I think our team is the best in the league. This team is fun to watch and it was really good to get off that streak and start a winning streak and hear some music in the clubhouse after the game. It's much quieter in the clubhouse when we lose.
Brian Hemminger: Do you have any specific goals for the rest of the year that you want to accomplish?
JP Feyereisen: Just do anything I possibly can to help the Rubberducks win right now. If that means eventually moving up in the world, I'll do that too. I'm just hoping for an Eastern League championship for Akron.
Brian Hemminger: There are a lot of LetsGoTribe readers who have been excited about you ever since we wrote an article following your scoreless innings streak last year. Do you have anything you'd like to say to them?
JP Feyereisen: Just keep rooting for me and hopefully you'll see me in Cleveland some day.
Brian Hemminger: Do you have anyone you'd like to thank who's helped you along the way?
JP Feyereisen: Just say "Hey mom and dad!" because they've always been my biggest supporters, but also coach Bishop for everything he did for me in high school and helping to make me into the player I am today.
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You can follow JP on Twitter here.