Five questions with Indians' Justus Sheffield

Jonathan Mayo talks to Cleveland's No. 5 prospect

March 3rd, 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As part of's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Indians camp, it was No. 5 prospect Justus Sheffield.

Sheffield was a first-round pick, taken No. 31 overall in the 2014 Draft. In his first full season, the left-hander finished second in the Midwest League, and his organization, in strikeouts. How far have you come as a pitcher from the time you were drafted, or even from last Spring Training, until now? Do you even recognize the kid that was in high school?

Sheffield: The kid's still there. He's always going to be there. I'm out here having fun, enjoying the weather. I came from cold weather, so it's definitely nice out here. I think mentally and physically, I've improved from last Spring Training and definitely since I came out of high school. I know a lot more about pitching. I know a lot more about my body and how to go about things on the mound differently.

MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports You had to learn a between-starts routine, pretty much from scratch. How hard was that to figure out and buy into?

Sheffield: In high school, I just laced up the spikes and I went out there and played. Even a little bit last year, I didn't have that much of a routine. As the season went on, I started learning more and more things about what I could do to get ready, what I needed to do, not just sitting around and waiting for that fifth day. I've learned more about the weight room and the training room, about prep work. I'm still working on my routine, it's gradually getting there. You and your brother, Vanderbilt starter Jordan Sheffield, took different paths. How much do you compare and contrast what you're doing with what he's doing in college?

Sheffield: I was in Nashville at Vanderbilt and got to watch his last two starts before I had to head out here. That was good because I hadn't seen him throw in a while. We are always talking about the difference between college and pro ball. We end up talking about the same things. He's on his own program and I'm doing my own thing out here, but when it comes to pitching, we always feed off each other's minds about how to go about at-bats. It's always great to catch up with him, kind of see where he's at. It looks like he's doing pretty well. I'm excited about him this year. Are you going to have fun being able to give him advice about starting a pro career, instead of being the younger brother taking advice?

Sheffield: I don't know if he'll really take it, because I'm the younger brother. No, we're competitive. He's always saying he's going to make it to the league before me. There's always that argument. It's a lot of fun. Being in a house full of baseball players -- I have a younger brother who plays -- it's great. Baseball definitely runs in our family. As a guy who's a little undersized, do you use that as a motivator?

Sheffield: You're always going to get people who doubt you just because of your height. It's what you have on the inside, what you have in your heart that matters. I'm really competitive. I feel like I'm a dog on the mound, that's how I go about it. I love Toronto's Marcus Stroman, he's an example. He has the HDMH -- Height Doesn't Measure Heart -- and I love that. That's pretty cool.

Bonus question How frequently do people insist on asking you about being related to Gary Sheffield?

Sheffield: All the time. I have baseball cards that say he's my uncle. It's just an old fairy tale. The rumor probably started my freshman year in high school, playing travel ball. We were playing at one school. The next day in the newspaper at the place we were playing, it said he was actually in the stands watching us play. It wasn't true at all, but I guess that's what started everything up. But there's no relation. I'm my own Sheffield, I'm going to start my own name.