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05/10/06 10:00 AM ET

Inside the Draft: Tim Lincecum

Washington ace talks about benefits of returning for junior year

Tim Lincecum is the Friday night starter for the University of Washington. The right-handed junior is 11-2 this season with a 1.94 ERA. He recently set a Pac-10 record for career strikeouts and has 168 K's this season in 102 innings pitched. Opposing hitters have managed just a .154 batting average against the Huskies' ace.

Last year, Lincecum was a draft-eligible sophomore and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 42nd round. After a superb showing in the Cape Cod League, Lincecum decided to head back to college for his junior season. It's a move that has paid off, as Lincecum's name has been mentioned prominently among the top draft prospects in the country. He's agreed to write a journal for MLB.com chronicling his experiences leading up to the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Hey everyone. I'm happy to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you at the University of Washington leading up to the draft.

I'm pretty excited about the draft, though I've still got other things to deal with. I'm still in college. I'm in college ball and we're getting prepared for a regional and trying to win games now. So I'm trying not to think about it too much. Yeah, I'm talking to scouts, but it doesn't seem too heavy right now. I'm sure it will pick up as we get closer.

Right now, I'm going to school every day, going to practice and playing on the weekends. We've got these three-game series on the weekends, practice and the one mid-week game. I talk to scouts before or after the game, and that's pretty much how it's been. It's been a pretty good routine.

The scouts are still getting to know me a little bit. It hasn't been too bad with the questions. They haven't gotten into asking about my personality or my makeup. It's nothing too specific right now, though I know that will change as it gets closer.

I know I probably made the best decision of my life to come back for my junior season. I know I struggled last year. I wanted to go high, but wasn't expecting it because I knew my situation. I hadn't had a good year and I'd have been a big risk because as a draft-eligible sophomore, I had some leverage. Going through it last year helped me with the experience and gave me a little more insight about being drafted.

I thought about signing a lot, especially after the Cape season. At one point, I thought I was ready to go. At another point, I knew I wanted to go back to college. But the offer the Indians made wasn't enough to put me over the top and sign. It gave me another year to mature physically and mentally.

When I was in the Cape, I pitched out of the bullpen. There may be some teams that want me to pitch in relief instead of start like I do now. I'm definitely OK with that. Whatever gets me to pitch in the bigs, I'm going to be fine with. I just want to pitch. I'm pretty sure I'm resilient enough that I can come back on short rest. Whatever they want me to do is pretty much fine with me.

A lot of people want to talk about my size (six-feet, 165 pounds). It's been that way all my life. I was really small growing up. I had to deal with the small-guy thing all my life. I've had to deal with lack-of-size issues my whole life. It doesn't bother me anymore. It gives me kindling for my fire. I use it to my advantage, I guess you can say.

From outing to outing, I set standards for myself, where I want to be, how I want to improve. When I have a bad outing, I think about what I want to improve. Even when I have a good outing, I do that. I had the one outing when I had 18 strikeouts, and I was thinking about the guy I had 0-2 and could've had 19 Ks. I get over it and try to use it to improve for the next game.

I've always been a perfectionist. My room has to be clean all the time. I used to be into art, drawing things to scale -- it had to be perfect. With my curveball, if I don't like the way I'm throwing it in practice, I keep working on it. I don't think that anything's perfect, but you try to work to it.

We've got a big series against Stanford this weekend and I'm pitching on Friday. I'll report back to everyone next week with how that went. Talk to you then.

Tim Lincecum's draft diary appears as told to Jonathan Mayo, a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.