Currin On The Rise With Midland

Although it wasn't always smooth sailing, Patrick Currin put up some impressive numbers during the 2007 season, especially in the strike-out category. He led all Oakland A's minor league right-handed relievers in strike-outs. Currin is off to a good start in 2008, having already earned an early season promotion to Double-A. Currin is looking to parlay what he learned in 2007 into a successful 2008

For the second consecutive year, Patrick Currin broke camp with one team, only to be promoted to a higher level just weeks later. Last season, Currin spent the first couple of weeks of the year with Low-A Kane County before being promoted to High-A Stockton. This year, Currin began the year in Stockton, but got the call for the promotion to Double-A Midland within two weeks of the start of the season.

Currin saved 13 games last season and already has two saves this year.
After pitching in a game at Modesto for Stockton on April 11th, Currin was informed that he was being promoted to Midland. He rushed back to Stockton, packed and hopped a plane to Texas, where he joined the Rockhounds at home. It didn't take long for Currin to jump into the fray for the Rockhounds. On April 13th, he entered in the fifth inning of a tied game and worked 2.2 scoreless innings with four strike-outs to earn the win in a 7-3 Rockhounds' triumph over Springfield.

"It was good [to get in quickly]. The day of rest was needed after a long plane ride and packing and all of that stuff. After the day rest, I was ready to get in there and get my feet wet. That was fun," Currin said.

Despite the disruption that moving across the country brings, Currin has been happy to make the moves.

"[Changing teams mid-season] is something that comes with the territory. It's always a good little hassle. I can't really complain about being promoted. Whenever the promotions come, I'm not going to turn them down," Currin said, laughing.

For Currin, the transition to Double-A has been a smooth one thus far. In only four appearances, Currin already has two wins and a save for the Rockhounds. He has allowed one run on two hits in 8.1 innings with eight strike-outs with Midland.

"The transition has been great. I was able to get to know most of the guys playing with [Midland] in spring training and last season. I think there were only three or four guys that I had to get to know since I got here. Everything has been going well," Currin said.

The 2007 season was a learning experience for Currin. He began the year on fire, jumping quickly from Kane County to Stockton, where he found immediate success. Currin was named to the California League All-Star team after posting a 1.71 ERA and saving six games and striking out 30 in 26.1 innings for the Ports during the first half of the season. The second half of the year was a different story for Currin, however. He still maintained a good strike-out rate (43 in 39.1 innings), but he saw his ERA jump to 6.86 during the second half of the year. He finished his 2007 stint with Stockton with a 4.80 ERA in 65.2 innings, and he had a 4.50 ERA in 80 innings for Kane County and Stockton.

Currin was one of two Stockton Ports on the Cal League All-Star team last year.
Currin says that he learned a lot from his struggles during the second half of last season.

"Darren Bush [Stockton manager] and Garvin Alston [Stockton pitching coach] really worked with me a lot last season when I was struggling. It was a really good learning experience. The second half was a little bit of a downward spiral, but it helped me with the mental aspect of my game and how to recover from bad outings," Currin said.

"Bad outings are going to happen, it's just all about not stringing them back-to-back and that sort of stuff. It was a big learning process going through that second half."

Currin threw 80 innings last season, but he didn't feel that fatigue factored into his struggles at the end of last year.

"I felt pretty strong at the end of the year. I took a couple of weeks off to cleanse my body and get back into the routine of conditioning and all of that stuff. Everything felt pretty good. I was ready to get back to it this season," Currin said.

In a lot of ways, Currin profiles similarly to former A's relief prospect Connor Robertson, who made his major league debut with the A's last season and was later sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren trade. Like Robertson, Currin doesn't posses an overpowering fastball, yet he induces frequent swings-and-misses. With 90 strike-outs in 80 innings last season, Currin had one of the best K/IP ratios of any A's minor league pitcher in 2007. Thus far this season, Currin has racked up 16 strike-outs in 14.1 innings.

Although strike-outs have been a big part of Currin's repertoire as a pro, he doesn't go out on the mound looking for strike-outs.

Currin's throwing motion adds deception, especially against righties.
"There are some situations where a strike-out is needed, but when a hitter comes up, I am not thinking about a strike-out. I'm just thinking about making quality pitches," Currin said.

"Strike-outs will happen, but I am really just looking for soft contact. If soft contact leads to no contact, then I'll take that too."

Currin uses a three-quarters throwing motion to create deception and movement on his fastball and his big breaking slider.

"My fastball has been working pretty well for me this season. The whole combination and the changing up of my pitches is probably my biggest strength. I look to keep the hitters off-balance," Currin said.

Currin, like many pitchers that employ a three-quarters throwing motion, has dominated same-side (in this case, right-handed) hitters throughout his career. Last season, Currin held righties to a .203 batting average, while lefties hit .308. This season, lefties have five hits in 19 at-bats (.263), while righties have five hits in 30 at-bats (.166). Despite those splits, Currin feels equally comfortable against both righties and lefties.

"I feel pretty much the same comfort level against both lefties and righties, but I guess that lefties might be able to see my pitches a little better because I do throw from the third-base side of the rubber," Currin said.

"Righties, I think, have the visual image of the ball coming at them at first, so that probably gives me some advantage there. But I feel comfortable against hitters on both sides of the plate."

Currin has been a late-inning reliever since college, and he relishes the pressure of pitching when the game is on the line. He saved 13 games last season and finished 32 games.

"I enjoy the [closer's] role. If that is the role that the manager and the pitching coach see me in, then that is the role that I'll do," Currin said.

"Closing games is a lot of fun. There really is no better role to be in as a reliever, but I'll do whatever role needs to be done and whatever job they need me to handle."

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