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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

2/2/24 : High Performance Camp - Day Twenty

Updated: Feb 2

Today’s Camp Activities :

Bullpen sessions on the seven mounds with some of them held inside in the pitching lab for Enrique Segura, Wilmer Blanco, Alexis De La Cruz, Cristian Hernandez, Estibenzon Jimenez, Jonathan Petit, Jordi Martinez, Tyler McKay, Andrew Schultz, Griff McGarry, Tommy McCollum, Andrew Baker, Brett Schulze, Jaydenn Estanista, Luke Russo, Tristan Garnett, Christian McGowan, Micah Ottenbreit, Mavis Graves, Samuel Aldegheri, Andrew Walling, Wesley Moore and Alex Rao.

My focus was on the bullpens today - first time I’ve seen RHP Wilmer Blanco and RHP Alexis De La Cruz throw.  De La Cruz fires on a downward plain, simple compact delivery akin RH Wen Hui Pan - one step to get in motion, slight leg kick, then rock and fire, ball comes out hot albeit no one is throwing full capacity yet - keep in mind that January work is focused on mechanics, pitch refinement and focus.  Can see though that De La Cruz can bring it, big, strong young man - ball flies, even at reduced speed.  Blanco also has relatively tight mechanics, his release point is more three quarters - he seemed to be honing in today on rolling breaking balls off the fingertips in his session.

I always enjoy watching RH Enrique Segura pitch - he has a uncoiling delivery where the ball comes out from a long arm slot - extends well and his pitches get a lot of action and movement - was excited about him last season and that hasn’t waned - the now nineteen year old has the goods to be a very impactful pitcher.

Second time I’ve watched RHP Griff McGarry in this camp.  Really like the work he’s done to simplify delivery and stay aligned to his target - it’s more about form and repeatability at this point and less about stuff - he’s not throwing anywhere close to full intent yet but he did let a bender fly today that got great reactions from his catcher and nearby coaches.  The stuff is legit - that’s never been a question.

Right handers Andrew Schultz and Brett Schulze were consistent with mechanics and in the zone with deliveries as well, each has the capability of throwing the ball past hitters if they can maintain command.  RH Tommy McCollum has an easy delivery which is deceptive in itself  because the ball comes from a big frame and releases hotter and with more movement than seems likely given the ease of release - it jumps and the splitter he throws disappears on a downward path. LHP Wesley Moore comes from a unique arm slot and gets terrific action on his deliveries - he brings the ball from behind his head as he uncoils - at least it gave that deception from my vantage point behind the catcher.  Sometimes his pitches had a natural lefty tail while his changeup appeared to run away glove side at times - good stuff!

Lefty Andrew Walling is my player spotlight today (see below), it’s always fun to watch him pitch as well - releases more above the head albeit not completely over the top - say one slot below that - ball is hot out of the hand and pops the mitt - even at reduced speeds in January.

I truly enjoy watching bullpens from behind the plate - seeing the ball movement helps to visualize what a batter sees while in the box.  The data and video collections of the team are far more defining and indicative of the work than this old man’s eyes and the coaches who decipher the efforts are also far more intelligent in baseball knowledge than I can even imagine to be but from an old pitcher’s perspective I can at least share with ya all what I see and think - just sayin take it for what it’s worth 🤪.

Outdoor batting practice was on Ashburn Field this morning.  I didn’t see any of it as I focused on the pitchers.

Big League Notes :

Manager Rob Thomson was on hand today and observing.  Pitching coaches Caleb Cotham and Brian Kaplan are also here.  RHP Tyler Phillips joined LH Jose Alvarado, RH Orion Kerkering, LH Matt Strahm and RH Nick Nelson in side bullpen sessions on the mounds between Ashburn and Schmidt fields.  Tyler has been working this off-season at Cressy Sports Performance - I’m a big fan - keep the name in mind for a big league debut this summer.

Player Spotlight :

LHP Andrew Walling - 24 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 8/1/22 - Mississippi State

2023 Stats :   very strong season - appeared in 40 games (55.2 IP) with a 3.23 ERA, 73 strikeouts and 29 walks.  Averaged 16.56 pitches per inning pitched and had a 62 % strike ratio.  At Clearwater - 26 appearances (39 IP) - 46 strikeouts and 26 walks, a 1.41 WHIP, 3.23 ERA and .206 BAA.  Promoted to Jersey Shore on 7/26/23 where he appeared in 14 games (16.2 IP) with 27 strikeouts and a minuscule 3 walks - 66 % strike ratio, .164 BAA, 0.72 WHIP.   

2023 Notes :   during 2023 spring training I had a scout ask me who was the lefty throwing on Ashburn Field with the live arm, he couldn’t believe that Andrew went un-drafted and thought the Phillies had made a real discovery.  During the season Andrew was a three pitch reliever with a fastball consistently in the 93 to 97 mph range and a sharp slider along with a cutter.  Has multi inning capabilities - in 18 of his 40 appearances he went multiple innings.  Likable young man whose desire to excel shines thru, can handle pressure spots in games, has baseball savvy and moxie - strong competitor with big arm talent.  Reminds me a bit of former Phillie Jake Diekman.

Andrew’s reflections :  “Personal takeaway would have to be understanding more of the type of pitcher I am and what leads me to have success on the mound. This off season I plan to focus on adding to my repertoire with a variant of a changeup/split finger.”

Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert :  “Walling made big strides in his ability to command the strike zone. He has an electric fastball that is complemented well with his cutter/slider combo. He thrived in high leverage spots for both CLW/JS and gained confidence as the season went on.”

Jersey Shore Pitching Coach Phil Cundari :   “I don’t know what’s tougher, playing catch with him or trying to hit him 🤓.  He’s got electric stuff, very strong young man who made tremendous strides this season.  Throws a bowling bowl of a cutter, varies his slider from a cutter to one that has more sweep, both have great velocity, exceptional breaking stuff.  Has a strong fastball already but I believe that velocity down the road with the fastball will be sitting 96-98 mph.  As he learns to throw more strikes with his pitches can move quickly up the chain. Tremendous worker and an outstanding young man.”

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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02. Feb.

Hey Steve: Thanks for your reporting. Have you Eiberson Castellano there at all? I know he pitched in Venezuela this winter. Had some decent appearance for the Threshers as I recall.

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