Peyton Alford was a much-needed weapon for Virginia Tech in 2019 after transferring from Walters State CC. The southpaw appeared in 24 games, garnering five starts along the way. Alford finished with a 4.19 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched, but settled into a reliever role, maintaining a 2.84 ERA out of the bullpen. The Knoxville native will be a key arm in relief that pitching coach Ryan Fecteau can rely upon in 2020.
Q: You win the lottery. What are you going to do with that money?
PA: Buy a house on the lake. Absolutely. Have boats and jet skis and just be out on the lake somewhere.
Q: Who’s your favorite baseball team and player?
PA: I always get roasted because I don’t have a favorite team. Being from Knoxville, your closest teams are either the Braves or the Reds. They haven’t been great recently, so I don’t really have a favorite team. Which player, that’s a hard one. I don’t really have a favorite team. I just like watching all of it.
CVD: Maybe even a player you model your game after?
PA: Me and coach Fecteau try to model myself after somebody, and that’s actually kind of tough. I’m trying to find somebody that I resemble. I liked watching Sean Doolittle in the World Series with the Nationals. He’s lefthanded, that type of thing. So I’d say if there’s one it’s him.
Q: If you could ask for advice from any historical figure, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?
PA: It would probably be an athlete, and I’d ask their biggest regret. What’s something they wish they did more of? I’d say Mookie Betts because he’s on the top of my head. What’s the biggest regret and how that was for him? He grew up in Tennessee, so that’s a similarity.
Q: What’s been your favorite memory over your time at Virginia Tech?
PA: So far, it’ll be hard to beat, but just hanging out with the guys all weekend, every day. That’ll be the biggest thing I miss, just hanging out with everybody. It’s like a family when you’re here, so that’s the biggest thing. Obviously, the games are incredible, but you’re going to remember friendships and stuff more.
Q: You have the bases loaded with two outs and a 3-2 count on the batter. What pitch are you throwing him?
PA: I’m going to go changeup. That’s my go-to [pitch] for a few years now, so I’m going to stick with it.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between being at a JUCO college like Walters State and being here at Virginia Tech? What has that taught you?
PA: The biggest thing I’ve seen, being at a JUCO you’re used to not really getting a whole lot and kind of having to be more blue collar, that type of thing. Kind of grinding it out. Here, you have so many more things handed to you, so it makes you way more grateful for what you get. We get meals and gear and stuff like that, so you really appreciate it a lot more whereas some guys kind of get used to it because they expect it.
Q: Last year you started some games before settling into a role in the bullpen. What’s the biggest difference between starting and being a relief pitcher?
PA: The biggest thing for me is whenever I come in in relief, it’s just trying to pick up the guy in front of me, so it’s just be a bulldog for three out. When you’re a starter you’re just trying to get a good start for your team. It’s not as much pressure. You’re just trying to last longer, so you may not give it 100 percent every single pitch. At the same time, you’re trying to go at least four or five innings so you can help your team out and not destroy your bullpen for later in the weekend.
Q: Finished last year with a 4.19 ERA over 38.2 innings pitched. What was the focus during the off-season to make your senior season the best it can be?
PA: Just being more consistent with everything. I think this has been a very good off-season just getting a lot more control of pitches and I’ve developed a lot more pitches. I had a curveball this summer that I added new and a cutter this summer that I’ve been working with here and there. I think I’ve added new pitches and gotten more consistent. That’s the thing I’m hoping for the most is just being in the zone a lot more and forcing contact to get outs early on with lower pitch counts.
Q: How has coach Fecteau helped you work toward that?
PA: We’ve gotten Rapsodo, that little machine we use in bullpens and stuff. You can see how your ball spins and your rpm’s and everything like that. I figure out this year that my ball does something completely opposite than I thought it did, so it allows me to pitch up in the zone more. That helps me tunnel with hitters. It’s more deception that I’ve learned from seeing the numbers.
Q: How do you want people to remember Peyton Alford when you take off the Virginia Tech jersey for the last time?
PA: Hopefully a great teammate who did whatever he could to help his guys out. Hard working and gave everything he had.