On the latest edition of the PhoulBallz Minor League Podcast, Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus joined me and my co-host Tug Haines as our guest. Among the topics of discussion was the type of impact that veteran teammates have had on him thus far in his big league career.
While sharing his thoughts on Phils closer Jonathan Papelbon, the 25-year-old De Fratus, who is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in seven games this season, declared that he has inserted himself into the role of the five-time All-Star’s protege.
From episode 28 of the PhoulBallz Podcast, De Fratus said:
“Well, to be honest, my first encounters with Pap and Mike Adams were, you know, I kind of just stayed away from them. I just kind of let them do their thing and tried to observe. But, really recently, in the last two weeks, or so, in my time up here, I feel at least my relationship with Pap has really taken off as far as, like, I really feel like he’s a mentor to me…teaching me about, you know, everything, like what it takes to be a closer or a successful major leaguer. He’s a closer, so he’s gonna talk to me on what it takes to be a closer and I just really enjoy listening to what he has to say. He talks to me about being aggressive and about being prepared to throw every day…But as far as the preparation and the mindset of what it takes to be a dominant major leaguer and, you know, so we’ll sit in the bullpen and he’ll just fill me with all this knowledge…it’s awesome for me. I’m kind of just making myself…or self-proclaiming that I’m going to be his protege kind of thing. That’s what I’m looking for and that’s why I’m trying to get everything from him as much as I can.”
“Obviously, at the end of the day what’s important is pitching in the big leagues, staying in the big leagues and making sure your team is winning. But, just like every starter’s goal is to be the ace of the staff, every reliever’s goal is to be a closer. You know what I mean? If you don’t want to be a closer and you’re content with just whatever, then I don’t know. What are you playing for? So, I mean I want to be the best in the bullpen. I want to be that guy, pitching in the most important situations. So, that’s why I look up to a guy like Papelbon, because, I mean, he comes in day in and day out and he comes in ready to win and that guy knows how to fight.”
A guy this fired up about his role in the ‘pen, who feels this passionate about learning from the best, is definitely the sort of pitcher that the Phils could use more of. Here’s hoping even a portion of what Papelbon has to offer can rub off on younger hurlers such as De Fratus and that they can put what they learn to good use for years to come.
To listen to the full interview, in which De Fratus talks about pitching at Fenway Park, having a place in team history, his own weight lifting prowess and plenty more, stream or download the episode at THIS LINK.
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