Musgrove Learning To Pitch, Not Throw

DUNEDIN, FL - Nearly three months ago, Joe Musgrove was selected 46th overall in the draft by the Blue Jays. Now, he's working on becoming a professional pitcher. The 6-foot-5, 230 pound right-hander was drafted straight out of high school, and after eight outings in the Gulf Coast League, he understands that he must become a pitcher instead of just a thrower.

"In high school, I could get away with just throwing fastballs over the plate anywhere and guys just couldn't catch up to it," Musgrove said. "Something I learned real quick out here is you gotta learn how to locate your fastball and be consistent about it.

"I'd be throwing to guys and I'd have good at bats going - I'd be ahead in the count — and I'd leave one pitch up in the zone and that'd be the one pitch that they'd get on."

Thus, Musgrove, 18, is mainly focused on the location of not only his fastball, but all of his pitches. The righty's four-seam and two-seam fastballs range anywhere from 90 to 96 MPH, along with a high-70s to low-80s split changeup, a high-70s curveball and slider. While he said his out-pitch is the two-seamer, the pitch that needs the most work is his changeup.

"[I'd like to improve] location on my changeup for sure because out here, fastball and changeup are the two most important pitches," Musgrove said. "I want to learn how to command my changeup a lot better and be able to throw it for strikes and spot it up."

Through eight outings, seven of those being starts, Musgrove has worked 21.2 innings and has a 4.57 ERA with a 16:4 strikeout to walk ratio. Opposing batters are hitting .227 off him. Pitching Coach John Wesley gave his scouting report on Musgrove.

"[He has] outstanding velocity on his fastball; tremendous sink and diving action on his fastball. He's got a good curveball, good slider, his changeup's getting there," Wesley said. "He's a competitor. He's had nothing but success here in his first year so far and I think he's gonna be a real good one one day."

Though he is a right-hander, Musgrove said he prefers pitching against left-handed batters. The statistics agree. In 9.2 innings against southpaws, he has a 1.86 ERA. Against righties in 10 innings, his ERA jumps to 6.75.

"For me, it's easier to throw to lefties," he said. "Because I'm a right-hander, my two-seam's gonna run away from a lefty so I can place it outside more comfortably than I could inside to a righty. It's not much a difference for me. I'm more comfortable throwing to a lefty, but I have no problem throwing to righties."

As the short-season comes to an end with Musgrove putting up solid numbers in his first professional campaign, there is of course still work to be done. Wesley said that the first area for improvement is consistency.

"At this level, just a little more consistency," Wesley said. "He's doing very well — he's just young, he just needs a little more of a consistent delivery just so it's more repeatable. Don't get me wrong, he repeats most of the time, it's just you gotta be pretty much perfect to be in the big leagues."

A compensatory first round pick, Musgrove admits he sets the bar high for himself. He believes that his own high expectations are a positive, as they help to keep him wanting to work hard and improve. Musgrove said he wants to improve on his command and keeping the ball down in the zone so that he can make his way up through the organization.

"I want to get out of here as fast as possible and get on to the next level and just keep moving up," he said. "That was the reason why I signed early and wanted to get out here right away and get this first year under my belt.

"I just want to be successful out here enough to where they think I'm ready to move up to the next level and start off in either Vancouver or Bluefield next year, hopefully."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"In high school, I could get away with just throwing fastballs over the plate anywhere and guys just couldn't catch up to it,\" Musgrove said. \"Something I learned real quick out here is you gotta learn how to locate your fastball and be consistent about it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd be throwing to guys and I'd have good at bats going - I'd be ahead in the count — and I'd leave one pitch up in the zone and that'd be the one pitch that they'd get on.\"
\r\n
\r\nThus, Musgrove, 18, is mainly focused on the location of not only his fastball, but all of his pitches. The righty's four-seam and two-seam fastballs range anywhere from 90 to 96 MPH, along with a high-70s to low-80s split changeup, a high-70s curveball and slider. While he said his out-pitch is the two-seamer, the pitch that needs the most work is his changeup.
\r\n
\r\n\"[I'd like to improve] location on my changeup for sure because out here, fastball and changeup are the two most important pitches,\" Musgrove said. \"I want to learn how to command my changeup a lot better and be able to throw it for strikes and spot it up.\"
\r\n
\r\nThrough eight outings, seven of those being starts, Musgrove has worked 21.2 innings and has a 4.57 ERA with a 16:4 strikeout to walk ratio. Opposing batters are hitting .227 off him. Pitching Coach John Wesley gave his scouting report on Musgrove.
\r\n
\r\n\"[He has] outstanding velocity on his fastball; tremendous sink and diving action on his fastball. He's got a good curveball, good slider, his changeup's getting there,\" Wesley said. \"He's a competitor. He's had nothing but success here in his first year so far and I think he's gonna be a real good one one day.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough he is a right-hander, Musgrove said he prefers pitching against left-handed batters. The statistics agree. In 9.2 innings against southpaws, he has a 1.86 ERA. Against righties in 10 innings, his ERA jumps to 6.75.
\r\n
\r\n\"For me, it's easier to throw to lefties,\" he said. \"Because I'm a right-hander, my two-seam's gonna run away from a lefty so I can place it outside more comfortably than I could inside to a righty. It's not much a difference for me. I'm more comfortable throwing to a lefty, but I have no problem throwing to righties.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs the short-season comes to an end with Musgrove putting up solid numbers in his first professional campaign, there is of course still work to be done. Wesley said that the first area for improvement is consistency.
\r\n
\r\n\"At this level, just a little more consistency,\" Wesley said. \"He's doing very well — he's just young, he just needs a little more of a consistent delivery just so it's more repeatable. Don't get me wrong, he repeats most of the time, it's just you gotta be pretty much perfect to be in the big leagues.\"
\r\n
\r\nA compensatory first round pick, Musgrove admits he sets the bar high for himself. He believes that his own high expectations are a positive, as they help to keep him wanting to work hard and improve. Musgrove said he wants to improve on his command and keeping the ball down in the zone so that he can make his way up through the organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to get out of here as fast as possible and get on to the next level and just keep moving up,\" he said. \"That was the reason why I signed early and wanted to get out here right away and get this first year under my belt.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just want to be successful out here enough to where they think I'm ready to move up to the next level and start off in either Vancouver or Bluefield next year, hopefully.\"
\r\n
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