This is the second part of my interview with Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman. Part one is here.
BB: Thursday was a cold night but the scouts guns had Syndergaard at 92-94 but I heard that's a little less than where he usually sits.
VH: Yes, it's a little down but I am not a big fan of the gun. I'm like what were the hitters doing? They weren't doing anything, they couldn't catch up to him and so that tells me he had a pretty good fastball. And he had some life to it and he really got over it and created a good downhill plane. And he commanded his fastball, he threw three innings and thirty-seven pitches. He really didn't have to use his secondary pitches, but I'd like to see a few more. He threw a couple of nice curves and a couple of good change-ups so it wasn't like he was out there trying to pump fastball after fastball. He pitched a little bit, got guys out in front and chased. The gun isn't an indication of what kind of stuff you have, that's for the scouts.
BB: Anthony DeSclafani is a college pitcher, more experienced than the kids, what are trying to work on with him?
VH: Disco has a couple of keys in his delivery that he really has to pay attention to. For him it's his front shoulder, he likes to rotate his front shoulder in too much, that causes him to get around the ball too much and it causes his stuff to flatten out. We have been working really hard to make sure he stays quiet on his front side, with his shoulders especially and make sure they work north- south and not east-west. The one game he struggled he was east to west and his slider was flat and his fastball was flat and he got hit around. Then in his next start, after a few good side work sessions, he went out there and threw 26 pitches in three innings. He was north to south with his shoulders and the fastball was sinking really good. Secondary pitches weren't as good, his curvball kinda rolled and he couldn't keep his slider in the strike zone but his fastball command was good and with his fastball he basically threw three shutout innings. So he was wow I did that just with my fastball. Now if you have your secondary pitches it makes life a lot easier but reinforcing those fundamentals gives him the confidence to say as long as I command my fastball I am going to be OK.
BB: Tyler Ybarra pitched very well in his first inning but struggled in his second. Is there a reason for that?
VH: Just some things he is working on with his delivery. We are tweaking it a little bit and he is going out there trying to repeat it. That night I thought he was thinking too much about his delivery instead of just going to get the hitters out. With Tyler he is working on command of the baseball, that's the biggest thing for him. He threw a couple of nice breaking balls the other night. Tyler just has to make some adjustments to his delivery but sometimes he gets too mechanical, he needs that nice flow to his delivery. Get a song in your head Tyler, pitch to the song and get loosey-goosey and just go get it. But Tyler has come a long way since the beginning of the season, he struggled a bit earlier, and he is really starting to put it together.
BB: His arm whips through the zone, it's unusual.
VH: He has a very quick arm, he has a real live arm, and it's going to be fun to watch him perform when he has all the pieces come together.
BB: Last nights starter was Dave Rollins. He pitched with his fastball up a lot, but he didn't need to use his off-speed pitches so much.
VH: Dave benefited from a very over-aggressive offense yesterday where they were chasing his fastball out of the zone and he has enough life on his fastball to go ahead and get away with that, at least at this particular level. But with him it's the same thing, in the bullpens he is really good at keeping the ball down but taking that to the mound, to the game where the intensity is there, he may need to back down a bit so he can command the ball. He will throw a real good pitch followed by a couple of fastballs up in the zone and the hitter swings and misses and it looks really good to punch the guy out on three pitches but he only threw one strike. If it was on purpose we would be high fiving each other, but it's not, it's accidental. I am looking forward to when he can put it together and yesterday wasn't all bad and the start before that was good. The secondary stuff is OK but for him the priority right now is fastball command.
BB: Marcus Walden is pitching today. He pitched here last year too, what strides has he made since last year?
VH: I didn't have the chance to work much with Marcus in the spring, and he had some delivery issues in the spring and he didn't have the type of spring we expected him to have. So he came here, and he came with a good attitude, but his delivery needed tweaking. He is a short guy, he has a good arm, but sometimes he gets real flat and he pushes the ball to the plate. So for the last few weeks, in between starts, we have been working hard to get him over the ball. He knows that, he knows he has to get over the ball and he has made tremendous strides over the past two starts, it's been a pleasure to watch him work.
BB: Tomorrow Justin Nicolino is your starter. Is there any comparison to be made between him and Drew Hutchison, leaving aside the hand they throw with. Both are command guys with very good change-ups and average fastballs. Is there any comparison there?
VH: I wouldn't say you are way off but it's comparing apples to oranges. Drew had a lot of mound presence, a lot of savvy for a young man and Nicolino has the same. As far as pitches go, and pitchability at the major league level, I think Hutchy, even though he was in the Midwest League, his stuff played at the big league level already. And Nick, two of his three pitches will do. He needs to work on his breaking ball, get it a little firmer, take some of the loop out of it. It's not far off to compare the two but Nick being left handed is always a great asset. The command, the savvy, the poise, the way he can bear down when he is in trouble and escape by making quality pitches is very similar to the way Drew goes about his approach. Drew when he was here was ahead of Nicolino but not my much.
BB: I forgot to ask you about Syndergaard, his curve is around 70 mph, would you like it to be harder than that?
VH: Yes, I would like to see it around 77-80. Here is a guy who can throw 95-98 and his curveball is at 70, that's too much separation right now for the speeds. He is probably going to get more swings and misses from the change of speeds than the break of the ball. I want the break of the ball to be the determining factor. But he has been working hard trying to get a feel for it and it has come a long way and all indications are that it is in there, we just need to add some miles per hour to it.
BB: The last pitcher is Aaron Sanchez, he has the pitches from all reports but command has been a challenge, he has walked more hitters than your other pitchers.
VH: I think the walks can sometimes be misleading. Sometimes the umpires can miss a pitch, not that I am putting it all on them. In his last start he walked three and struckout seven. On two of those walks he made really good pitches, and on one walk, yeah he did lose the strike zone and walked a guy on four straight. So sometimes I think those walks can be a bit misleading. But Aaron has come a long way too with his command. He is getting more pitches in his lanes with his fastball, and his breaking ball is already there, it's a big league breaking ball, and his change-up is major league quality as well. But he does need to improve his consistency in the strike zone with his stuff but it's just a part of the maturation process that a power pitcher has to go through. Both Noah and Aaron are power pitchers so sometimes the walks will be there but they have the ability to get themselves out of the jam by strikeouts because their stuff is power stuff.
Batters Box thanks Vince Horsman for his time.