Tuesday, August 5, 2014


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “intensity” as: “The degree or amount of strength or force that something has.

For athletes, intensity translates into heart – the refusal to be defeated or give up.  It can often mark the difference between mediocrity and the spectacular.

Well, perfect timing. When I interviewed Ian Clarkin for BYB, he was a Charleston RiverDog. Today though, because of hard work, because of intensity... because of heart... he is now with the Tampa Yankees. Now that's a story!

Clarkin is a 19-year-old southpaw from San Diego who the Bombers drafted in the first round (33rd pick) of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft.  According to Baseball America, Ian is the seventh ranked prospect in the organization.  To date, he had a very successful 2014 campaign at Single-A Charleston posting a 3.21 ERA and striking out 71 in 70 innings of work.

Ian had come across BYB before, but couldn’t remember much about it.  I gave him a very brief summary of our site and told him how we have a “family” mentality when it comes to the Yankees and their fans.  With that being said, I wondered who in Clarkin’s family or circle of friends had been his greatest supporters.  The Baby Bomber didn’t hesitate with his response:

“Well, I don’t have a large family, but my parents have always been my greatest supporters….both my mom and dad – especially my dad.” 

He further explained that it was his dad who taught him the game and helped him develop as a player. He explained more than that as well, and it's my pleasure to introduce to you our interview with Ian Clarkin... former RiverDog, current member of the Tampa Yankees.  Enjoy this gang...

BYBGrowing up, who had the greatest influence on you as a player?  Who did you most want to be like?

Ian Clarkin: Definitely Ryan Klesko and Jonathan Papelbon.  I loved how they always “brought it” to a game…love how Papelbon went after hitters…loved that intensity and drive.

BYB: Did you always want to be a pitcher?

Ian Clarkin: It’s funny.  Yes.  But I remember when I was young and the coach asking who wanted to be a pitcher.  Before that, my dad had told me to NOT raise my hand.  He said “Don’t be a pitcher”.  When the coach asked, I looked right at dad and raised my hand.

BYB: So, you’ve pretty much always been a pitcher?

Ian Clarkin: Yeah.  Since I was like 8 or 9.

BYB: What current player or players do you admire the most?

Ian Clarkin: Definitely Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera….just the way they’ve done things.  On and off the field they’ve done things the right way.

Prior to the 2013 MLB Draft, Ian had made a much-publicized “I can’t stand the Yankees” comment that he has since explained as being taken out of context.  Without kicking that dead horse again, I asked him about draft day.

BYB: How did you feel about getting picked by the Yankees in the first round?

Ian Clarkin: I was relieved.  Funny story…it was Grad night on the same day as the draft, so I had to choose between going to Grad night or the draft.  I decided on the draft.

BYB: What was the first thing you did?

Ian Clarkin: The first thing after I got picked that I did was call one of my friends.

BYB: Did you think you’d get picked in the first round?

Ian Clarkin: Yeah.  That’s why I was relieved.  I knew there were some other teams earlier in the round but when they didn’t take me, I was relieved to finally get picked and go to such a great organization.

Even though he’s just 19, Clarkin already has a solid foundation of pitches.  His fastball is in the low 90’s, and he throws a knee-buckling curveball in addition to a decent change.

BYB: What pitch do you consider to be your best?  If you had to throw one pitch with the bases loaded and two outs with the team up by one, what pitch would you rely on to get the batter out?

Ian Clarkin: Definitely my curveball.  Without a doubt I think that’s my best pitch.

BYB: Are you working on adding any other pitches to your repertoire?

Ian Clarkin: Yeah, I’ve been working on adding a slider.

Given the issues with the Yankees pitching staff this season, the movement of players throughout the organization has been “active”.  I decided to ask Ian about his plans.

BYB: You had a good season in Charleston.  Did you think there would be a call up?

Ian Clarkin: I am just concentrating on working hard to get better every day.  I don’t worry about that; I only focus on making myself better.  The organization has the plan.

BYB: With Tommy John surgery becoming more common than not, I’ve noticed that it is rare for anyone in the minor league system to go six or more innings.  Is that just to be safe or is it a result of pitch count?  Are you on a pitch count?

Ian Clarkin: Yeah, everyone in the organization is on a pitch count.  I like the philosophy of the pitch count and stuff like that… Obviously being a competitor no one wants to come out too early, but that’s just the way it is.  It’s keeping all of us healthy.  All of my teammates and I – and I knock on wood – have stayed relatively healthy.  I definitely agree with the philosophy.

BYB: As far as teammates go, were there any in particular that you hung out with the most?

Ian ClarkinIt’s everyone.  Everyone on the team is just great, but if there was one it’s definitely Gosuke Katoh.  I mean, it would be just because we’ve been on the same travel team since we were freshman in high school and we grew up playing together.  We’ve known each other for so, so long and we really get along and are really good friends.  It was a true blessing when we both got drafted by the same team.  It was pretty amazing, I’ll tell you that much.

BYBI have just one more question for you Ian.  I don’t want to take up a lot of your time.  What one thing about yourself do you want our readers and followers to know about yourself?

Ian Clarkin: Just know that I’m working hard every day trying to make myself better.  I don’t take a day off.  I just try to get better every single day.  I’m working hard to be who I want to be and complete my dreams.  I never want to take a day off.  There’s never enough hours in the day- you always wish you had more.

BYB Well keep pursuing your dreams; you are doing a great job.  We’ll be following you and cheering you on.  Thank you for sharing some time with us at Bleeding Yankee Blue.

One of the criticisms of the recent versions of the Yankees is that they can, at times, appear complacent.  They often seem to lack the ability to maintain a high-level of energy throughout a game.  After speaking with Ian Clarkin, I feel good about our Bombers’ future. 

The young hurler oozes with intensity, yet at the same time shows wisdom beyond his years.  Clearly he has a great foundation in his parents, and even greater work ethics that will enable him to one day achieve his dreams. 

If intensity can be the difference between a win and a loss, then Yankees fans can look forward to many winning seasons with players like Ian Clarkin.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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