Prospect Pulse: Sit-Down with Russ Savickas

Russ Savickas has quietly made his way up to the Double-A level after being drafted out of High School. Savickas joined InsideTheDome for a weekend chat as he's preparing to climb the organizational ladder.

InsideTheDome: New England's not know as a hot bed for baseball talent. How does a high school kid from Rhode Island get noticed by the Toronto Blue Jays?

Russ Savickas: If you put yourself out there, they'll find you. I went to places like Madison, Connecticut, places like that. Scouts took in interest in me, started showing up at my high school games. They'll find you if you have it what it takes. Often it'll work out.

InsideTheDome: You started the season in Dunedin. You had some success down there. You've now had a handful of starts here in New Hampshire. What's the biggest difference you've noticed between the hitters in Single-A and here in Double-A?

Russ Savickas: They preach that you trust yourself. If you just trust in what you do, you can get anybody out. It's just a matter of when you move up a level not trying to do too much. Sticking with your game plan and not trying to change things just because the hitters are better. In this level you face some hitters that are a little bit older, that have been around a little bit longer. They have more of an approach at the plate. If there looking for a certain pitch and you throw it, they're going to hit it so you just have to change speeds and just trust what you're trying to do.

InsideTheDome: Are there certain pitches that you were able to get by hitters in Dunedin that you're finding hitters in the Eastern League are getting around on.

Russ Savickas: Oh yeah, there's adjustments that you have to make. You really don't have to change too much. It really about location. You have to be a little bit smarter. You have to recognize swings a little bit more. If a guys cheating, you have to come inside. You really have to pay attention to what the hitter's doing. You have to see if he's adjusting to what you're doing too.

InsideTheDome: Of the pitches that you're throwing this season, which ones are you working on improving?

Russ Savickas: This season I'm mainly working on my slider. I threw it a bit last year and this year I'm really trying to fine tune that. It'll be a good pitch for me. I throw a lot of sinkers so I'll have something away to a lefty and then something farther in or away, to a righty. Personally I think that'll allow me to have more success.

InsideTheDome: What sort of pitch count do they have the starters on here in New Hampshire?

Russ Savickas: Down in Dunedin it was around 100 pitches. Here it's 110. It's not too much of a difference but here it's around 110.

InsideTheDome: What do you think you need to work on to move up to the next level?

Russ Savickas: Personally, just getting ahead of hitters a little bit. When I was in Dunedin, I wasn't walking as many guys as I am here. I have to trust my stuff a little bit more. I have to go right at hitters. Not give them too much credit. Just changing speeds a little bit more than I have been.

InsideTheDome: It's been a short time but so far, what do you like about pitching here?

Russ Savickas: The stadium here is real nice. The park in Dunedin is nice too because it's a spring training park. But the difference here is the fans. In High-A and Rookie, you're lucky to get 1,000 people, more like 3 or 400. Here you average 3,000 or 4,000 a game. It's a little more exciting but you really don't let the crowd come into play but the atmosphere is fun. You can really get into it.

InsideTheDome: Do you have a game plan when you start your games? Are there certain players that you try to work around, things like that?

Russ Savickas: We don't really work around guys. If you have your 3 or 4 hole hitter up with a base open, you're not going to give him much to hit if it's a close game. We really just try to go after them with your best stuff and see what they can do with it.

InsideTheDome: What have the Blue Jays told you they expect out of you here in Double-A?

Russ Savickas: They want to see me pound the strike zone a little bit more. I have a good sinker so they want to see me go after guys with that. They want me to go deeper into games than I have in the past. For the most part this year I've done that. It's a challenge but it's fun to be challenged. It gives you something to work towards.

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