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10/26/06 1:40 PM ET

Coutlangus enjoying competiton of AFL

Reds pitching prospect chats online with fans

Jon Coutlangus participated in an online chat with fans Thursday morning. The Reds prospect just finished his second season as a pitcher after being drafted out of college as a center fielder. During the chat he talked about making that change as well as playing in college, the Minor Leagues and the AFL.

Coutlangus: Good morning everyone, welcome to the chat.

Coutlangus: We're ready to take your questions.

Question: Who did you idolize growing up?

Coutlangus: I idolized Howard Johnson -- he played for the Mets. That's who I always looked up to and I had about 100 of his baseball cards. He was a hard-nosed baseball player and ran everything out. I tried to emulate his stance when I was playing.

Question: How did you get into pitching, rather than another position?

Coutlangus: I actually started out as a center fielder in pro ball. I played center field at South Carolina and I was drafted as a center fielder. I played center field my first full season in pro ball. This is only my second full season pitching. I was struggling as a hitter, so it was kind of dumb luck that I became a pitcher.

Question: How has playing in the AFL this year changed your game?

Coutlangus: When you play in the AFL you've got to step up your game. The hitters are unbelievable which makes you pitch more aggressively, and they capitalize on every one of your mistakes.

Question: What do you consider to be your best pitch?

Coutlangus: I'd probably say my cut fastball. Trevor Wilson, the San Francisco Giants pitching coach, taught me how to throw it and I've been working on it. He threw a cut fastball when he pitched in the Major Leagues -- that was his specialty. He was one of my first pitching coaches and he helped me out a lot.

Question: Hey Jon, do you regret going to college rather than playing ball right out of high school?

Coutlangus: I definitely do not regret coming out of college, because I had the best time of my life in college and I learned so much about baseball.

Question: What's the toughest thing about moving from center field to pitcher?

Coutlangus: I had never pitched before, so it was just learning how to calm myself down on the mound and stay composed in big situations.

Question: Being a former position player, do you miss getting to hit on a regular basis?

Coutlangus: I do not miss hitting, but being in the National League you might get up once in a while. I don't miss broken bats, my hands stinging and striking out.

Question: What keeps you busy in the offseason?

Coutlangus: I wasn't a high-round draft pick so I have worked at places like Dominos, Carrabbas, and I have put furniture together for a small company. So that keeps me busy in the offseason as I await the regular season.

Question: What was your favorite team growing up?

Coutlangus: The New York Mets, and of course Howard Johnson.

Question: Given the choice, would you rather start or relieve?

Coutlangus: I'd rather relieve because I like pitching almost every day.

Question: Hi Jon, do you have a put-away pitch? Do you use it often?

Coutlangus: Yeah, my slider is probably my put-away pitch -- and I use it when I want to put someone away, or I try to.

Question: Hi Jon, what was it like playing for Ray Tanner in college? And was it his reputation that drew you to South Carolina from Florida?

Coutlangus: Ray Tanner is a professional coach who taught me baseball in general, taught me how to compete, and who is honest. His reputation drew me to South Carolina, as well as the atmosphere and the fans.

Question: What did you study in college?

Coutlangus: Sociology.

Question: Which Desert Dog are you glad you don't have to worry about facing?

Coutlangus: I would hate to have to face Javon Moran because he's a pesky hitter and would be tough to get out.

Question: What are the best and worst things about playing Minor League baseball?

Coutlangus: Some of the worst things about playing Minor League baseball is the pay and travel. The best things are that you make life-long friends with your teammates, because you're on a bus for eight hours. You learn a lot about a lot of people that you never would have met.

Question: How would you pitch your Double-A teammate Joey Votto?

Coutlangus: I wouldn't pitch to him, I'd walk him.

Question: What's the best part of playing in the AFL?

Coutlangus: The best part about playing in the AFL is playing against the high level of competition and seeing how you can handle it.

Question: Do you prefer pitching now, rather than hitting and playing center field? How has it changed your perspective on the game?

Coutlangus: Yes, I prefer pitching now and I gained a perspective because I was at the end of my career with hitting and didn't know if pitching would ever work out.

Coutlangus: Thanks for the questions, I hope I answered them well. It was great hearing what fans have to say and their questions. Thanks!

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.