Sometimes he's listed as William Spottiswood, sometimes Billy Spottiswood. His teammates call him Spotty. It's an ironic nickname, because the Diamondbacks' 25th-round selection from last June's draft has proven to be superbly consistent - not spotty at all. In fact, through 65.1 professional innings, Spottiswood has only walked 14 batters. Maybe "Spotty" refers to his ability to spot his four pitches almost at will.
Whatever name you call him by, Spottiswood is eager to pitch no matter what he is called upon to do. And whatever role the Cal State-Chico star finds himself in, he brings the same approach to the mound.
"I take it the same from a start, to relief, to long relief, to closer," Spottiswood explained. "It doesn't matter; it's the same mentality. I just love to throw. Put me in any situation anywhere. I'll do it."
"Any situation anywhere..."
Spotty hits fungoes to his infielders
His situation has changed slightly from last year. Spottiswood was Missoula's closer in 2007, going a perfect 10-for-10 in save chances. The Silver Hawks use a variety of relievers for their save situations rather than one set closer. Spottiswood ranks second on the team in saves to Evan Scribner, one of Spotty's teammates at Missoula last year. But Spottiswood has been so good of late that he has consistently been called upon to get the Hawks out of jams, whether they be save situations or not.
After a rough outing against the Kane County Cougars in April (five baserunners and three earned runs in one inning), Spottiswood was ready to own up to the fact the next day.
"It happens to everybody. You just go out there, forget about it, and get 'em the next time," he said simply.
Spottiswood did get 'em the next time... the next nine times, actually. His subsequent nine outings total 16 frames without an earned run allowed, 13 hits, 3 walks, and 11 strikeouts. He has high expectations for himself, so he isn't surprised by his recent success. He isn't making excuses for his rough start to the season, either, despite playing in sub-50 degree temperatures for several games in early April.
"We can't use that as an excuse," he insisted. "They have to play in it, too."
The question is, can Spottiswood continue to pitch well? His cutter actually makes him tougher on left-handed batters than on righties, as evidenced by his holding lefties to a .205 batting average this year and a .173 mark in '07. His splitter induces a lot of ground balls, which helps him avoid back-breaking longballs and promises to serve him well in the hitting-friendly California League upon his eventual promotion there. This being Spottiswood's first full professional season, one possible obstacle is late-season fatigue.
"I haven't done it yet, so we'll see what happens," he said. "It's baseball: you go on good streaks, you go on bad streaks, and you start to get tired. But as long as you're mentally prepared, it should be alright."
Spottiswood has ridden a good streak for a while now, and has been well-prepared thus far, thanks in part to a coaching staff that he gets along with very well.
"I love 'em. They're the nicest guys. They can get on you, but you probably deserve it if they do."
There hasn't been much to get on William Spottiswood about in the past month. What he deserves is that promotion to Visalia, and he may indeed get what he deserves very soon.
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