MyCentralJersey.com recently sat down with Somerset Patriots pitching coach Grayson Crawford for a conversation about the club’s pitchers.
The starting rotation featured three of Baseball America’s Top 30 prospects in the Yankees organization at the start of the season in Will Warren (7), Richard Fitts (19) and Clayton Beeter (22).
On Warren adding velocity this offseason: “I think it just makes the fastball play up a little bit more. He’s added the four-seam; maybe not necessarily even added it, as much as cleaning up some of the movement. The velocity helps, but something that people wanted to see is if he could create more miss with the fastball, and I think naturally adding a couple miles per hour on the fastball helps.
“He flashes a good slider every time he’s out there, so I think any time you can do something with added velocity, just to get him off the slider a little bit more (it helps). He’s added the cutter along with it too, so that’s helped him. But throwing everything harder, it all plays up, and when you start talking about now getting above big-league average in fastball velocity, it proves where he’s headed.”
On Warren’s cutter usage: “Pretty often to lefties. That’s going to be something that we worked really hard on in the offseason and spring training, is kind of giving him a different weapon for lefties. Between that and the four-seam, I think that’s proven so far this year that it’s going to be a big weapon for him, especially early in counts. Probably not something he leans on to strike a bunch of people out with, but early in counts and trying to see if he can get some weak contact with the cutter will be a plus for him.”
On Fitts and stuff vs. results thus far: “The thing about Fitts is he’s so process-driven, and he really understands what we care about. It’s funny, because (the first few outings) have been more strikeouts, but kind of similar to how he started in Tampa to where the box score doesn’t necessarily how good he’s really pitched … he’s the guy that’s just steady. You’re not going to see a lot of emotion out of him. But I think he’s pitched really well, he just has to continue on that path that he’s on right now, creating that swing-and-miss.
“He added a new short gyro slider, which has helped him a lot to go with the other pitches. And really, something that hasn’t been talked about a lot is the increased changeup usage and miss that he’s gotten on that as well. Fastball velocity is up a couple of ticks, so really for him, it’s staying the course, and what he’s been doing will end up paying off in the long run.”
On Fitts throwing the gyro slider vs. the more common “sweeper” slider in the Yankees system: “I just think some people are naturally able to spin it differently than others, and I think some pitchers probably play better with different releases than others. Fitts is obviously a little bit more over the top, so sometimes, guys from different slots have an ability to do different things. He’ll actually throw the sweeper from time to time, but he also throws the little, short slider and then a cutter-type pitch.
“I think he’s mixing and matching with what they do best. (His slider) might be perceived to the hitter as a little bit more like (a slurve action) because it’s over the top, but him and Beeter both kind of have that higher release point, so I think it’s perceived with more depth. It’s actually pretty traditional, I just think the slot has a lot to do with it.”
On Fitts and the importance of that changeup: “I think it’s been huge. If you look at last year, his left-handed miss was something that he really wanted to work on this offseason. It’s something to give the fastball relief, kind of the opposite of Warren; he needed something to give his slider some extra relief, so he added the cutter, but Fitts needed to get something to keep people off of the fastball, and I think with him adding now the gyro and then the changeup, I think that’s made lefties have to respect that, which with the added fastball velocity, makes that fastball continue to play up a little bit more. I think it’s been huge so far to lefties.”
On Beeter and the changes he made this offseason: “He’s extremely steady. He would tell you he thinks he can actually be better, which is fun to think about, because he’s been really solid. But that’s who he is. When I think about Clayton, it’s you know what you’re getting every day when he comes out here – whether it’s game, whether it’s practice – and that’s just who he is, and that maturity has really paid off so far for him. Really just the same as some of the other guys, just staying the course. Really spent spring training kind of working on a few things that he needed to get better at, and I think he’s done that. He’s throwing more strikes, he’s getting miss, he’s added a changeup as well that’s a newer pitch for him. I’m continuing to look for big things from him.”
On Beeter being used as a true starter this year and the effects of that on stuff/data: “I think the fastball is elite, it really plays up. The velo is there, the movement is there, and it’s from that different slot, so it plays and continues to play. But the biggest thing, is he just wants to show people he can be a starter. He jokes with me all the time about if the training wheels are really off or are they not, but he wants to go show people what he can do, and I think he’s doing that. For him, it’s just staying the course and showing people what he’s made of, and he’s been doing that so far.”
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Yankees developing highly touted starters at Double-A Somerset
Source: Yahoo Sports