Off-Season Q&A With Ron Romanick, Part Three

Earlier this month, the Oakland A's named Ron Romanick the team's new major league bullpen coach. Romanick had spent the past nine years as the A's Minor League Pitching Coordinator. We recently spoke at length with Romanick about a range of topics. In part three of our discussion with Romanick, we discussed the Fall League contingent, some of the first-year players, Braden and Meyer and more...

Click here for part one of this interview and here for part two of this interview.

OaklandClubhouse: Have you seen much of the Arizona Fall League contingent at this point?

Ron Romanick: Yeah, I have been to about four or five games and I have seen everybody pitch. James Simmons I've seen three times now. He's been throwing pretty good. Jeff Gray looks good. He's been working on that breaking ball that was a little inconsistent in Triple-A. Simmons has also been working on a breaking ball. He has a nice, tight breaking ball now. Brad Kilby is looking pretty good. He is getting into shape and his last couple of outings have been very good.

We lost Jay Marshall to waivers, so now Justin Dowdy is over there. We signed him to a free agent deal and he's filling in over there. He's a left-handed reliever, an older kid who was available at the time [Marshall was claimed]. He's got a good arm. He has a good straight change-up. Todd Steverson, our Double-A manager [who is on the coaching staff of the Phoenix Desert Dogs], calls me when one of our guys is going to get into a game. Gary Lucas [the Desert Dogs' pitching coach], I actually played with him back in my Angels' days. It's a pretty good situation. Our guys can learn something from him.

OC: Have you seen Jerry Blevins since he joined Team USA?

RR: No, they are way out in Surprise, so that's a little bit of a road trip from where I am at. If I can get over there, I will. That is just a great opportunity for him [to play for Team USA]. Hopefully, he'll continue to do what he does and stay fresh. That was a nice pick-up for us. I got a chance to see him in Double-A and followed him through the Triple-A playoffs and when he was up in the big leagues. He's a tall, lanky kid with a nice, whippy arm and a whole lot of leverage. He strikes out a lot of guys, which is what you want. He has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. It will be a great opportunity for him to compete for Team USA.

OC: You got a chance to see Dan Meyer and Dallas Braden up in the big leagues at the end of the year. What do you think they need to do to improve going into big league camp next season?

RR: Dan really made a nice comeback this year. Dallas, he has all of the success in the world when he is at Triple-A. He's adjusting to the fact that if you make a mistake at the big league level, it gets hit a lot further. He's got to learn to miss a little better, whether it is as a starter or coming out of the bullpen. With Dan, it is really the same thing. His velocity came all of the way back this season and he has three pretty good pitches. These guys are kind of knocking on the door. They are in that tweener area where they are trying to get established up there and get their opportunities. Both of those guys just need to learn to cut down on their mistakes when they are not locked in with their location. Guys get paid a lot of money to hit those mistakes up there. They get hit a long way. I think they found that out this season.

OC: Going back to this year's draft class, what did you see from Travis Banwart, Andrew Carignan and Sam Demel this season?

RR: It's an evaluation period with the first-year players. It's a pretty loose Instructional League and we get to know these kids on an everyday basis, which is something I don't get to do when I am traveling from team-to-team during the regular season. We also have instructors who get to take a look at them that didn't have these players [during the regular season]. We try to have some fun with them, try to get them to share a little about themselves. They also do some goal-setting. We try to get them to pick something that they think they need to work on first and set-up a plan on how to do it. By doing that, the personality of the kids really comes out.

The neat thing is that you don't know what these guys are going to turn into. You really don't. You try to expose them to a couple of different things. You kind of get an idea [of what they can become] based on the guys who have come before them and guys that are really good in the major leagues. It is kind of a good motivational thing for me to tell a guy, ‘hey, you kind of look like this guy,' ‘you throw like this guy' or ‘hey, this guy does pretty well with this, what do you think?' You ask them how they view themselves as a pitcher or who they think they throw like. And you expose them to different things and they evolve.

Banwart, Demel and Carignan all fit into that mold. They all have really good arms. Carignan hit 97 during the Instructional League, so he's still pretty fresh. Banwart and Demel were hitting 90-plus when they wanted to. Banwart is more of a four-pitch guy, a starter-type. Demel and Carignan are obviously relievers. We actually started Carignan a couple of times [during Instructional Leagues] just so that he could develop a third pitch, and he really liked that because he was able to do more side work.

You throw a few things out there that you couldn't do in the regular season and they tell you what they are going to become. That is kind of the neat thing. You have to be sensitive to the fact that they are tired with the switchover from the college season to the pro season. They all put a good off-season in in terms of their work ethic. You introduce them to the throwing program and then they come back like gangbusters in the spring. You try to prepare them for the spring because all they are going to see when they get there is a sea of green jerseys everywhere.


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