Stroman Easing In

VANCOUVER, CA - Selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft from Duke University, right-hander Marcus Stroman was touted as the draft prospect most ready for the Majors Leagues. Assigned to the short-season Vancouver Canadians, Stroman will be introduced to professional baseball with a focus on learning the basics.

The plan is for the twenty-one year old Stroman to come out of the bullpen and he's enthusiastic to get his start in Vancouver before moving up the minor league ladder.

"I had a bunch of time off between signing and getting drafted so I'm definitely anxious and excited to get it started," Stroman said. "I'm really looking forward to getting on the mound and competing."

Stroman has experience as a starting pitcher and as a reliever. He started at Duke this season and in 14 starts, posted a 2.34 ERA and 136 strikeouts over 98 innings. For the USA Baseball Collegiate National team and in the Cape Cod League he worked exclusively as a closer.

Although he feels comfortable in either role there's a certain thrill attached to being thrust into high leverage situations with the game hanging in the balance.

"I would say my personality is geared more towards relieving and coming in late in a game so I definitely like that part," he said, "but whatever they want me to do I'm more than willing to do."

Canadians pitching coach Jim Czajkowski hasn't gotten an extended look at Stroman yet. However, he's impressed with Stroman's mechanics.

"[He has a] very nice and easy strong arm," said Czajkowski. "He's going to get an inning and from there we're going to give him a couple days rest, get an inning in here and there."

Stroman's Duke Blue Devils went 21-34 this past season and finished last in the ACC, and while it was difficult to endure the losing it taught Stroman to compete hard regardless of the score or the situation.

"We weren't very successful this year so definitely learning to deal with adversity. There were times where my team, not to doubt them or anything but we didn't score many runs so I had to learn to just go out there and compete and pitch every inning and keep my team in the game," Stroman said.

"I literally had to go out there and try and throw up zeroes every single inning. So learning to deal with adversity and playing against I think one of the best conferences in the country that really just helped my confidence."

The current Major Leaguer that Stroman compares himself to, is Atlanta Braves all-star closer Craig Kimbrel. They're both of small stature and utilize an electric fastball and a wipeout slider. To Stroman's delight, Jim Czajkowski was Kimbrel's pitching coach in 2008 and 2009 when he played with the Rome Braves.

"I think that's awesome," he said. "I'm definitely going to have to pick his brain a little bit about what exactly Kimbrel's approach to the game, his stuff, kind of what he's thinking when he's out there. I'm just here to learn and anything I can pick up I love it. I'm just trying to get better every day."

Despite being, as Stroman puts it "five-8 or five-9", he generates velocity from his strong lower half and his best attribute is his fastball. He consistently throws it between 93 mph and 95 mph, and has touched 98 mph.

"I like to establish my fastball first and use my other pitches as put-away," Stroman said. "First and foremost I want to establish my fastball in the zone."

As far as short term goals, Stroman is concentrating on fine-tuning all four of his pitches and building off of the foundation he laid last season.

"There's definitely room for improvement. Right now I would definitely say my fastball command, you can always be better with that and then just really working on locating my other pitches in any count at any time," Stroman said. "I feel like I've made huge strides this year at Duke in that aspect and I'm just looking forward to keeping it going."

Though he has given up two runs in each of his first two appearances, which isn't surprising given his long layoff, his long term objectives however have not wavered. Stroman has his eyes firmly fixed on the bright lights of the big leagues.

"The end goal is definitely to make it to Toronto, it's in the back of my mind and it fuels me because I want to play on that level sooner rather than later," Stroman said. "I just take it one day at a time and just focus on the now, the future will handle itself."

Czajkowski, like most good coaches, stresses the importance of the minor details, and he's passing down the significance of those details to Stroman, just as he did with Kimbrel.

"We're just going to make sure we ease him gradually into some games," Czajkowski said. "Teaching him the Blue Jays fundamentals is going to be more important than getting innings."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe plan is for the twenty-one year old Stroman to come out of the bullpen and he's enthusiastic to get his start in Vancouver before moving up the minor league ladder.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had a bunch of time off between signing and getting drafted so I'm definitely anxious and excited to get it started,\" Stroman said. \"I'm really looking forward to getting on the mound and competing.\"
\r\n
\r\nStroman has experience as a starting pitcher and as a reliever. He started at Duke this season and in 14 starts, posted a 2.34 ERA and 136 strikeouts over 98 innings. For the USA Baseball Collegiate National team and in the Cape Cod League he worked exclusively as a closer.
\r\n
\r\nAlthough he feels comfortable in either role there's a certain thrill attached to being thrust into high leverage situations with the game hanging in the balance.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would say my personality is geared more towards relieving and coming in late in a game so I definitely like that part,\" he said, \"but whatever they want me to do I'm more than willing to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nCanadians pitching coach Jim Czajkowski hasn't gotten an extended look at Stroman yet. However, he's impressed with Stroman's mechanics.
\r\n
\r\n\"[He has a] very nice and easy strong arm,\" said Czajkowski. \"He's going to get an inning and from there we're going to give him a couple days rest, get an inning in here and there.\"
\r\n
\r\nStroman's Duke Blue Devils went 21-34 this past season and finished last in the ACC, and while it was difficult to endure the losing it taught Stroman to compete hard regardless of the score or the situation.
\r\n
\r\n\"We weren't very successful this year so definitely learning to deal with adversity. There were times where my team, not to doubt them or anything but we didn't score many runs so I had to learn to just go out there and compete and pitch every inning and keep my team in the game,\" Stroman said.
\r\n
\r\n\"I literally had to go out there and try and throw up zeroes every single inning. So learning to deal with adversity and playing against I think one of the best conferences in the country that really just helped my confidence.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe current Major Leaguer that Stroman compares himself to, is Atlanta Braves all-star closer Craig Kimbrel. They're both of small stature and utilize an electric fastball and a wipeout slider. To Stroman's delight, Jim Czajkowski was Kimbrel's pitching coach in 2008 and 2009 when he played with the Rome Braves.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think that's awesome,\" he said. \"I'm definitely going to have to pick his brain a little bit about what exactly Kimbrel's approach to the game, his stuff, kind of what he's thinking when he's out there. I'm just here to learn and anything I can pick up I love it. I'm just trying to get better every day.\"
\r\n
\r\nDespite being, as Stroman puts it \"five-8 or five-9\", he generates velocity from his strong lower half and his best attribute is his fastball. He consistently throws it between 93 mph and 95 mph, and has touched 98 mph.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like to establish my fastball first and use my other pitches as put-away,\" Stroman said. \"First and foremost I want to establish my fastball in the zone.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs far as short term goals, Stroman is concentrating on fine-tuning all four of his pitches and building off of the foundation he laid last season.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's definitely room for improvement. Right now I would definitely say my fastball command, you can always be better with that and then just really working on locating my other pitches in any count at any time,\" Stroman said. \"I feel like I've made huge strides this year at Duke in that aspect and I'm just looking forward to keeping it going.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough he has given up two runs in each of his first two appearances, which isn't surprising given his long layoff, his long term objectives however have not wavered. Stroman has his eyes firmly fixed on the bright lights of the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"The end goal is definitely to make it to Toronto, it's in the back of my mind and it fuels me because I want to play on that level sooner rather than later,\" Stroman said. \"I just take it one day at a time and just focus on the now, the future will handle itself.\"
\r\n
\r\nCzajkowski, like most good coaches, stresses the importance of the minor details, and he's passing down the significance of those details to Stroman, just as he did with Kimbrel.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're just going to make sure we ease him gradually into some games,\" Czajkowski said. \"Teaching him the Blue Jays fundamentals is going to be more important than getting innings.\"
\r\n
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