Oakland A's Q&A: Gil Patterson, Part Two

In the final part of our off-season interview with Oakland A's Minor League Pitching Coordinator Gil Patterson, we discuss the improvements made by James Simmons, Tyson Ross, Carlos Hernandez, Andrew Bailey, Jared Lansford and more...

For part one of this interview, please click here.

OaklandClubhouse: You mentioned Carlos Hernandez earlier. He won the Most Outstanding Pitcher award during Instructs, right?

Gil Patterson: Yes, he was outstanding. You saw his numbers from this year. You know how you might watch a guy and watch his stuff and you'll say, ‘his stuff is okay.' Then the next thing you know, it's the sixth or seventh inning and it is 3-1 and he's winning every time. It's like, ‘how does he do that?' He's just got a great feel for pitching. He is continuing to improve and we are extremely happy for him. You say, ‘how far can he go?' The answer is, ‘I don't know.' You just keep sending him out there and let him keep pitching like he is pitching. He did it from Extended Spring to Vancouver to Kane County and then finished up strong in Stockton. Like I mentioned before, Tyson Ross also had an excellent Instructional League, but Carlos was very, very good.

OC: Was Fautino De Los Santos there? Is he on a throwing program at this point?

GP: He is still just in the early stages of throwing. By the time he comes to spring training, he will be throwing sides and stuff like that, but I do not think he will be ready to pitch in games by the start of the spring. It might not be long after, but he is someone who is likely to spend some time with Garvin Alston.

OC: You mentioned that James Simmons accomplished what he set out to do. What was he working on?

GP: You probably know as well as I do that his fastball command is really outstanding. And his change-up has really come on. The fastball command has always been there, but the change-up has greatly improved. This spring, he really started working with that slider that we gave him, and it has come on to be a good pitch for him now. He can throw it where it looks like a strike and when the batter goes to swing, it runs off of the plate. He'll throw it anywhere between 79 and 82, 83 miles per hour. As he continues to throw it, it is going to get better and better. So that was the biggest thing that we were happy with.

He does also spin a nice curveball over the plate. It's more of a 0-0 curveball. It's not a strike-out curveball at this point. But those two breaking balls, especially the slider, have really come on and he continued to improve on those in the Instructional League. But the biggest thing was getting him those extra 15 innings to get him close to 160 innings or so for the season. That will allow him to get to 180, 200 innings next season without any real problem.

OC: He missed some time with a sleep disorder, right?

GP: Yeah, and I believe that he is getting that fixed this off-season. I certainly hope so.

OC: Did you end up playing with Tyson Ross' mechanics at all, or did you let him keep that throwing motion?

GP: We tried to lengthen his stride just a little bit and tried to have him have just a little bit better finish. In answer to your question, did we work with his mechanics some? Yes, we worked with it some. Did we work with it much? No. There is that fine line sometimes. It's difficult to change something that I'm not going to say isn't broken, but someone might say, ‘why fix something that is working?' His delivery definitely isn't the norm. You can look at it and see a few different mechanical points that are a little bit different, but at the same time, you don't want to take away from anything that he has – whether that would be his stuff or his deception.

He has had a little bit of soreness and has missed some time with the arm, so that allows you to suggest a few mechanical things to give him some longer periods of time of not being injured. That's all we are doing. It's very minor stuff. It's a little bit of a longer stride, a little bit better finish and get him a little bit further out on his front leg. Again, he is very, very talented and he has a slider that you can tell guys that it is coming and they still aren't going to hit it.

OC: Was there stuff that you are asking Henry Rodriguez to work on while he is in Venezuela?

GP: Just to keep his head on-line. With Henry, it seems like the more he is challenged with a hitter, the better that he will do. With everything with him, he just needs to learn to control the throttle. He needs to know when is too much, too much. There is never too little with him. He needs to control it and make sure that it is not too much. When he gets going too quickly, he almost spins in a circle. You remember the Tasmanian devil? He used to be able to spin in a circle and that is what Henry does sometimes. He falls off everything. When he stays on-line and gets through his pitches, there aren't many people, if any, who can hit him.

OC: Did you see much of the Arizona Fall League contingent when you were out there?

GP: I did. I saw them a few times. Andrew Bailey's little project that I gave him to work on worked out really well. I was really happy for him.

OC: Was that the cutter?

GP: During the summer, he was not getting the results that any of us would want, including him. I talked with David Forst and Keith Lieppman and I said that I have a plan and I would like to see if it works. If that didn't work, there was one other thing that I thought we could try and then I was out of plans. The first plan was that we would make him like Mariano Rivera a little bit. [Bailey] always cut the ball anyway, so all it was was that we moved him on the rubber and we tried to have him pitch like Mariano Rivera.

The only thing that Bailey had that was a little bit extra was a slider with a little bit bigger break and even a curveball. Scott Emerson did a great job with him slowly but surely working that in. If you look at his numbers from a starter to a relief pitcher, they were just unbelievably good. I'm very glad that worked because that meant that during the Instructional League he didn't have to come and I didn't have to go to Plan B. I was extremely happy with that.

Jared Lansford's development has just been tremendous. He's almost like Simmons was. He had no breaking ball and that is why he struggled so much early on out of the starting rotation. He continued to work to his credit and his curveball is much better and the slider has also gotten better and now when he comes in for that inning or two, forget about it.

With Andrew Carignan, we added a curveball to him. The slider during the summer wasn't sliding very consistently. So one day I asked him if he had ever spun a breaking ball. He says, ‘oh, yeah, catch this.' It almost hit me right in the ankle. Scott Emerson did a nice job with him working on that curveball and I saw him in some games this year where he was just tremendous with that curveball. He still needs to develop better fastball command. Who doesn't, but with him, he probably needs just a touch more than a normal guy might.

Jeff Gray, him and Ron Romanick worked together to try to create a little bit more deception and try to lower his arm a little bit. Garvin mentioned to me that for making a little change, he looked really good and made some positive steps in the right direction.


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