PinstripesPlus.com: What was going through your mind when you saw your name up on the board, indicating the Yankees had chosen you?
Janson Junk: I was actually on the phone with my father just talking about it, seeing how things were going to play out. As I’m talking to him, I get a call from the area scout and I’m like, ‘Hold on, dad. I have to take this real quick.’ I was watching the boards all day and then just took that moment to talk to my dad, and next thing you know, I pick up the phone from the area scout and he’s like, ‘Are you watching it?’ I was like, ‘No. I was just on the phone,’ and he said, ‘We just took you.’ That moment, words can’t describe how I felt, just ecstatic. I’m blessed for this opportunity I got.
PinstripesPlus.com: Were you surprised it was the Yankees who ultimately chose you? Had you talked to them much before the draft?
Junk: They had some heavy interest in me. I thought they were one of the teams that when it came down to it, they might pick me. It didn’t come as a big surprise.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let’s talk a bit about your game. What are your top pitches, and what speeds are you maxing out at right now?
Junk: My fastball I can get up to 98 [mph], so I throw that. I have a sharp slider, trying to work on that every day and get it better. And then I have a changeup that has good sinking action to it. I’m trying to incorporate a two-seam too more, so I’m going to develop that too.
PinstripesPlus.com: What would you say is your biggest strength and weakness right now? What are you actively working to improve?
Junk: I would say my biggest strength is just the competitiveness I have on the mound. I think when I get on the mound, it’s like a bulldog presence. I try to take over. When I’m looking down at the catcher, I’m going to beat this guy and there’s no way that he’s better than me. I’d say, for a weakness, when things get out of hand, sometimes I just need to be better at stopping things to compose myself and not rush, take it one pitch at a time.
PinstripesPlus.com: What has been your biggest accomplishment in baseball so far?
Junk: Probably last year, my sophomore year playing for Seattle University, we came down to the last series for our conference tournament, and I was the starter that day. I didn’t have my best stuff, but I competed very well and won the game. It ended up that just because we won that game, we won the conference, so that was a great moment to be up on the mound and have the ball for that game and celebrate with my teammates.
PinstripesPlus.com: Who was your favorite team growing up or favorite player? Who did you look up to?
Junk: Favorite team, I’d just say Mariners because I’m from Seattle so I’m a hometown fan. Growing up, I looked at Félix [Hernández] a lot during his younger ages. I looked at Ken Griffey, just seeing how he played and the presence he brought to the field and also Randy Johnson. Those guys, I looked up to and wanted to be them when I was younger.
PinstripesPlus.com: Who would you compare yourself to, in terms of how you play, so fans can get a sense of who you are on the mound?
Junk: I like to compare myself to Corey Kluber on the Indians. I think we have similar stuff. We have similar makeup and ways how we compete and take pride in the game, so I think we resemble each other nicely.
PinstripesPlus.com: You’re one of many talented right-handed pitchers who got drafted this year. How do you plan on standing out?
Junk: Pretty much, I’ve been through a lot growing up, being undermined. I should never be here right now. People second guessed me or didn’t believe I could make it to this level, so when I get that opportunity to go on the mound, I’ll show them that I belong and that I’m one of the best arms out here. When I go on the mound, everybody can see that.
PinstripesPlus.com: You’re only a junior this year. Are you looking to sign right away and get your professional career started, or are you going to stay in school another year and hopefully get drafted next year?
Junk: I’m looking to sign this year. After conversations, I think it’s the best thing for me and my family. We’ll move forward with the best opportunity I get. I think it’ll be a good choice.
PinstripesPlus.com: Do you worry at all about pitching in New York and the pressure that comes with that?
Junk: No, not at all. It’s an honor to go to New York and play for the Yankees, put that logo on my chest. If I just do what I do every single day and take pride in the organization, I think that can help me with all the pressures around it.