Q&A with B-Mets Pitching Coach Marc Valdes

BINGHAMTON, NY - The job of pitching coach is rarely easy, and that is no different for B-Mets pitching coach Marc Valdes. Valdes is overseeing a deep assortment of arms, including a number of the organization's top prospects. Two months into the season, Inside Pitch caught up with Valdes to get his thoughts on a number of his pitchers - how they have fared so far and where they are going.

Inside Pitch: Start with Brad Holt. Thus far the season has been up and down; he's had a couple of good starts but also some struggles. What do you think of his season so far?

Marc Valdes: Well thus far he's been head and shoulders above where he's been in the past. We're just trying to keep him on the right track, get him to keep the ball down in the zone and get consistent with the location of his pitches.

Inside Pitch: What do you feel are the strongest aspects of his game?

Valdes: For me, he's kept to himself as far as sticking by his work routine. He's not shying away from it, not trying to change it after he had a good game or going to something different after a bad game. He's keeping the same routine and the same work ethic during the week, and mentally he's gotten a lot stronger.

Inside Pitch: Brad has spoken about developing his changeup, how is it coming along? Is he progressing?

Valdes: The changeup, in at least two or three of his starts, has probably been his second best pitch right behind his fastball. It's gotten him out of jams and it's helped him work quickly and get into favorable counts.

Inside Pitch: Both you and Brad have stressed approaching each outing from a "pitch to pitch" stance. Is that still the game plan?

Valdes: That's really the game plan for any pitcher. I think any pitcher who starts to worry about getting through the first inning or third inning, or getting through the fifth inning for a win is going about it the wrong way. You need to go pitch to pitch because each pitch sets up the next one. Therefore it takes you into third, fourth, fifth, sixth inning and late into the game where you want to be.

Inside Pitch: How is Robert Carson's development coming along? You've spoken about working with him to utilize both sides of the plate, is he still working on that?

Valdes: He's working a lot better at that. That's usually what we call the fastball arm side, and him being a lefty he's throwing it to his arm side towards the plate. He's got good extension; he can throw the ball in to a righty just as good as any lefty can. But we're trying to get him to stay down and away and every now and then keep them honest with his cut fastball inside. He's worked tremendous on that, and it's paid off. He's had some quality starts.

Inside Pitch: You've spoken about how Rob's pitches sometimes have an unintentional cut, is that still an issue for him?

Valdes: No, he throws the cut fastball and it's a natural cut. It's just the way he grips it and lets it go; it's not something he turns over. We're working on getting him to have a little tailing action on his arm side to move away from a righty.

Inside Pitch: Carson's expressed a lot of confidence in his slider, is that still a reliable pitch for him?

Valdes: He's seen progress with his slider, and it's getting there. Eventually it's going to be an even better pitch than what it is now. As he continues to throw it, and throw it for strikes, then he'll be able to better command it and have more confidence in it as well.

Inside Pitch: Let's talk about Mark Cohoon. He got off to a great start, but has cooled off a little recently. What's been the biggest difference for him?

Valdes: These guys hit a wall. They came out of the gates so strong that eventually you hit a wall. In a season where you get 30 starts, 25 to 26 are going to be tough, they just are. There's only four or five where you can close your eyes and throw whatever you want. It's a grind, but at the end of the year we'll see how they are.

Inside Pitch: Mark spoke about increasing the use of his curveball and throwing that high fastball as an out pitch. Is that still the plan?

Valdes: He's throwing his curveball at two different speeds. He likes to take a little bit off and get ahead with it, and every now and then he'll try to snap one off and throw a little more of a hard one. Sometimes he gets hurt with it, but that's just something we're working on and it's a progression.

Inside Pitch: He also talked about adding a fourth pitch to his repertoire, a cutter/slider-like pitch. Are you guys still working on that?

Valdes" No, we're not working on that at all. He's strictly fastball, curveball, changeup.

Inside Pitch: Brandon Moore has also been up and down, he's had some solid outings and some rough outings. What's the key for him to being more consistent?

Valdes: He's a guy that is a groundball pitcher. He's got a good curveball and a slider, but his main focus this year has been fastball command and changeup command. We know he can throw his breaking ball in any count and at any time to try and get back into the count where it's favorable to him. His main thing, like any pitcher but especially for him is keeping that two-seamer down in the zone to get groundball outs and quick innings.

Inside Pitch: A past issue for Brandon was keeping his eyes on the target and picking it up earlier. How's that progressing?

Valdes: He's feeling it. It's there as far as he doesn't do it as much. He still does it a little bit, but it's just a habit for him and we just tell him to keep the eyes on the prize and hit the target. If you don't hit the target, you want to have command somewhere down in the zone.

Inside Pitch: Jeurys Familia opened his first stint with the B-Mets with two stellar outings. What have been his biggest strengths in his short time here?

Valdes: His composure has been a big part of it. He's young; he's got a great work ethic and this kid's not far away. Eventually he'll be in the big leagues.

Inside Pitch: His secondary pitches and fastball command have been focus points for him. How is his arsenal progressing? What do you think about his mechanics?

Valdes: His mechanics are fine. As long as he stays down on top and down through the ball and he's there down the zone he's going to be fine. He's another guy who throws a hard four seam fastball but he's still getting a lot of groundball outs.

Inside Pitch: You worked with him in Savannah as well. What differences to do you see in him, not only as a player but in maturity as well?

Valdes: It's maturity and it's confidence. You see a guy knowing that any pitch that he throws in any count he's confident in. You don't see a guy who's a little bit timid. He's going after hitters and trusting his stuff.

Inside Pitch: Tobi Stoner is in Binghamton now after a rehab start in St. Lucie. What's the plan for him?

Valdes: His plan is to get healthy and get better and get back to where he was a year ago. We need to get him going again, and now he's at a different level. If he's here and he's pitching fine, there's no reason we can't say he's ready.

Inside Pitch: Eric Neisen has been effective here, but has also had a problem with reverting to some older habits and has posted a high walk rate. What are you guys working on to make him more consistent on the mound?

Inside Pitch: He's working on lifting his leg and staying down through the ball. The last few outings he's been a lot better.

Inside Pitch: Any other focus points?

Valdes: Staying confident. Staying out there and pitching and getting guys out. At this level these guys have all the stuff it takes to pitch in the big leagues, it's just putting it together and doing it on a consistent basis, and it's totally up to them. They know they have this in them.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInside Pitch: Start with Brad Holt. Thus far the season has been up and down; he's had a couple of good starts but also some struggles. What do you think of his season so far?
\r\n
\r\nMarc Valdes: Well thus far he's been head and shoulders above where he's been in the past. We're just trying to keep him on the right track, get him to keep the ball down in the zone and get consistent with the location of his pitches.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What do you feel are the strongest aspects of his game?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: For me, he's kept to himself as far as sticking by his work routine. He's not shying away from it, not trying to change it after he had a good game or going to something different after a bad game. He's keeping the same routine and the same work ethic during the week, and mentally he's gotten a lot stronger.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Brad has spoken about developing his changeup, how is it coming along? Is he progressing?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: The changeup, in at least two or three of his starts, has probably been his second best pitch right behind his fastball. It's gotten him out of jams and it's helped him work quickly and get into favorable counts.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Both you and Brad have stressed approaching each outing from a \"pitch to pitch\" stance. Is that still the game plan?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: That's really the game plan for any pitcher. I think any pitcher who starts to worry about getting through the first inning or third inning, or getting through the fifth inning for a win is going about it the wrong way. You need to go pitch to pitch because each pitch sets up the next one. Therefore it takes you into third, fourth, fifth, sixth inning and late into the game where you want to be.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: How is Robert Carson's development coming along? You've spoken about working with him to utilize both sides of the plate, is he still working on that?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: He's working a lot better at that. That's usually what we call the fastball arm side, and him being a lefty he's throwing it to his arm side towards the plate. He's got good extension; he can throw the ball in to a righty just as good as any lefty can. But we're trying to get him to stay down and away and every now and then keep them honest with his cut fastball inside. He's worked tremendous on that, and it's paid off. He's had some quality starts.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You've spoken about how Rob's pitches sometimes have an unintentional cut, is that still an issue for him?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: No, he throws the cut fastball and it's a natural cut. It's just the way he grips it and lets it go; it's not something he turns over. We're working on getting him to have a little tailing action on his arm side to move away from a righty.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Carson's expressed a lot of confidence in his slider, is that still a reliable pitch for him?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: He's seen progress with his slider, and it's getting there. Eventually it's going to be an even better pitch than what it is now. As he continues to throw it, and throw it for strikes, then he'll be able to better command it and have more confidence in it as well.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Let's talk about Mark Cohoon. He got off to a great start, but has cooled off a little recently. What's been the biggest difference for him?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: These guys hit a wall. They came out of the gates so strong that eventually you hit a wall. In a season where you get 30 starts, 25 to 26 are going to be tough, they just are. There's only four or five where you can close your eyes and throw whatever you want. It's a grind, but at the end of the year we'll see how they are.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Mark spoke about increasing the use of his curveball and throwing that high fastball as an out pitch. Is that still the plan?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: He's throwing his curveball at two different speeds. He likes to take a little bit off and get ahead with it, and every now and then he'll try to snap one off and throw a little more of a hard one. Sometimes he gets hurt with it, but that's just something we're working on and it's a progression.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: He also talked about adding a fourth pitch to his repertoire, a cutter/slider-like pitch. Are you guys still working on that?
\r\n
\r\nValdes\" No, we're not working on that at all. He's strictly fastball, curveball, changeup.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Brandon Moore has also been up and down, he's had some solid outings and some rough outings. What's the key for him to being more consistent?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: He's a guy that is a groundball pitcher. He's got a good curveball and a slider, but his main focus this year has been fastball command and changeup command. We know he can throw his breaking ball in any count and at any time to try and get back into the count where it's favorable to him. His main thing, like any pitcher but especially for him is keeping that two-seamer down in the zone to get groundball outs and quick innings.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: A past issue for Brandon was keeping his eyes on the target and picking it up earlier. How's that progressing?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: He's feeling it. It's there as far as he doesn't do it as much. He still does it a little bit, but it's just a habit for him and we just tell him to keep the eyes on the prize and hit the target. If you don't hit the target, you want to have command somewhere down in the zone.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Jeurys Familia opened his first stint with the B-Mets with two stellar outings. What have been his biggest strengths in his short time here?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: His composure has been a big part of it. He's young; he's got a great work ethic and this kid's not far away. Eventually he'll be in the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: His secondary pitches and fastball command have been focus points for him. How is his arsenal progressing? What do you think about his mechanics?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: His mechanics are fine. As long as he stays down on top and down through the ball and he's there down the zone he's going to be fine. He's another guy who throws a hard four seam fastball but he's still getting a lot of groundball outs.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You worked with him in Savannah as well. What differences to do you see in him, not only as a player but in maturity as well?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: It's maturity and it's confidence. You see a guy knowing that any pitch that he throws in any count he's confident in. You don't see a guy who's a little bit timid. He's going after hitters and trusting his stuff.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Tobi Stoner is in Binghamton now after a rehab start in St. Lucie. What's the plan for him?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: His plan is to get healthy and get better and get back to where he was a year ago. We need to get him going again, and now he's at a different level. If he's here and he's pitching fine, there's no reason we can't say he's ready.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Eric Neisen has been effective here, but has also had a problem with reverting to some older habits and has posted a high walk rate. What are you guys working on to make him more consistent on the mound?
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: He's working on lifting his leg and staying down through the ball. The last few outings he's been a lot better.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Any other focus points?
\r\n
\r\nValdes: Staying confident. Staying out there and pitching and getting guys out. At this level these guys have all the stuff it takes to pitch in the big leagues, it's just putting it together and doing it on a consistent basis, and it's totally up to them. They know they have this in them.
\r\n
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