1-on-1 With MSU Pitching Coach Butch Thompson

Mississippi State Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Butch Thompson talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about how his pitchers did this past week.

Dakota Hudson was consistently 90-91 with his fastball and he also threw another pitch that was 84-85. I'm not sure what that pitch was.
"I think he is throwing a cutter. We are looking for that second pitch to go with his good fastball. We are looking for a high percent of strikes from it..He got a strikeout with it and put it in the strikezone more often. What I am excited about right now is he is the healthiest that he has been this fall which allows him to go out there ever three days and get better."

He is also trying to keep his fastball down in the zone. So, as you have mentioned before, as long as you know what a pitcher is trying to do, and you agree with that, then you are comfortable with that?
"I have never any of these guys to be perfect. Pitching is a tough skill. But it is so important for people to see what you are trying to do. And I think I am seeing more of that out of Dakota right now."

You started Levi Mintz and he had a solid outing Sunday.
"I wanted to reward Levi as an example for the entire staff. He made a little adjustment after throwing high and being very marginal. He really jumped off of the cliff by lowering his arm slot a little bit. He threw really well on Tuesday. Whenever someone jumps off of the cliff with an adjustment I want everybody on our staff to see that is going to be rewarded. Levi gave up one base hit, a ball hit by Seth Heck that was hit right in front of home plate. But he had a non-competitive walk in the first inning. And he started his second inning with an HBP and another non-competitive walk. That gave opportunities in the first two innings for runs to score. But I think with the adjustment that he has made he has better spin and is throwing more strikes, which means he can have more success. And he didn't get hit, he just self-inflicted himself a little bit by starting the innings off with walks and an HBP."

Something that I have noticed about Vance Tatum is he seems to be really good when he gets a man on third base with less than two outs. He's left a man on third a couple of times in that type situation. He's also given up some runs in other situations, other than that type situation. What are your thoughts about that?
"I don't know the answer to that. I know that he is one of our most competitive pitchers. We've started him this fall. We've also thrown him in relief. We are also going to look at him finishing a ball game. He's had a challenge and he has had a bright spot. The challenge is the first hitter that he faces. He's trying to learn how to get ready in the bullpen so that he will be ready to go against the first batter. He has been a little slow in the strikezone. He has been dipping below the zone, spiking in front of the plate a little bit. Once he gets 10 to 12 pitches into the game he might strike out the side. But a lot of times the game is won or lost with that first hitter that you face. I don't know what the recipe is for him to change that. He's got to be more competitive when he first walks onto the mound, whether it be starting a game, coming in the middle or at the end. We are trying to figure out what we have to adjust with his routine so that he doesn't need to throw 10 pitches before his stuff becomes electric."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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