Note: This article originally appeared in April, 2007 on CapitolDugout.com
Fruto split last season between the Seattle Mariners and their Triple-A Tacoma affiliate. This year, he was traded by the Seattle Mariners to the Washington Nationals and was cut from the roster in spring training and sent down to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. Fruto has not only had to get use to playing for a different team, but also for a different league.
"I don't want to say they are both the same type of league because the National and American leagues are different," Fruto told CapitolDugout.com. "Pitchers here hit, and American league you have a designated hitter for you. I went a long time not hitting, then I came here and, as a pitcher, we are suppose to hit, which was not good for me."
While Fruto gets used to some of the changes of a new league, he also has to get use to some of the changes to the mechanics of his pitching. Getting control of his fastball is just one of the weaknesses Fruto needs to practice. If he's walking batters and pitching with the bases loaded, he's forced to back off his heater and serves up a hittable pitch.
"I need to practice a few of my mechanics and throw the ball better," Fruto said. "Sometimes I throw the ball too high or too far back on home plate, you know, and I need to practice the mechanics of my arm."
However, Fruto is a very aggressive pitcher, and his fastball and changeup give the hitters a run for their money.
"My fastball and changeup are good. That's why when I start pitching I use my fastball for the first 3 or 4 innings, then I throw my changeup" Fruto said. "As a starting pitcher, you throw 5 or 6 innings and the same guys come up to the plate 4 or 5 times. So they might hit one of my balls, but will miss the other."
In his opening game for Columbus, on April 10, against the Louisville Bats, he pitched 6 hitless innings, striking out 5 batters and walking one. In his second game pitching for the Clippers, Fruto had a little trouble in the 5th inning, causing him to throw a few more balls.
Fruto feels lucky to have made it this far in his career and is very happy with his time in Columbus. He hopes it will give him the time and practice he needs to sharpen his skills and get him ready if he is called up to play for the Nationals.
Practice Makes Perfect for Fruto
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