Being 17-for-17 in save situations for the Redbirds helped earn the native of Mexico the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week Award for the period of July 5-11, The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month nod for May and a spot on the league's All-Star team.
Memphis hitting coach Mark Budaska, who accompanied Salas and teammate Brandon Dickson to the All-Star contest as the PCL hitting coach, had this to say about Salas.
"He has done well in commanding his slider better than last year and his changeup mixes off his fastball pretty good," observed Budaska. "In his three-pitch mix, I think he has a couple of big league pitches and I think he has a chance to stick (in the majors)."
Salas would go on to fan two of the three batters he faced during the All-Star Game before yielding a harmless single. We caught up with him prior to the game to pose several questions.
When you pitched in the Caribbean Series, was that more nerve-racking than making your MLB debut? Why or why not?
"It's the same thing. For me, baseball is the same everywhere. I got a lot of experience playing in Mexico and I just try to keep the ball down to get people out."
What did Dave Duncan tell you when you arrived in St. Louis?
"He basically just told me to enjoy my time up there and keep doing what I was doing at Triple-A and don't change anything."
You've gone back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis three times already this season. Have they told you what you need to do to stick there?
"Just keep working hard and keep doing what I am doing now and I'll get an opportunity to stay there. The key is to just keep working hard and I'll get a chance."
What do you consider to be your out pitch?
"The change-up, because I am facing a lot of left-handed hitters and its got a lot of control. Actually, it depends on what the count is and what the situation is."
What part of your game are you still working on?
"I'm still working on my slider. My primary pitch right now is the change-up, but I would like to get more control of my slider and I would be better then."
What other pitcher's pitch would you like most to have as your own?
"The only thing that I can think of is Pedro's [Martinez] slider. I would like to have that pitch."
Special thanks to Chuck Hixson, publisher and editor of the Philadelphia Phillies Scout.com site, PhillyBaseballNews.com, for arranging this interview and its translation.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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