Schwinden a Product of Perseverance

Chris Schwinden entered the organization in 2008 as a middle-round draft pick with a seemingly long road up the minor league ladder. Four seasons later, the right-hander is knocking on the door of the big leagues. He can attribute that to his unwillingness to deviate from his strengths, while improving upon his flaws.

As anybody who's studied Latin knows, carpe diem means "seize the day."

Even though Buffalo Bisons right-hander Chris Schwinden probably didn't study Latin in high school or college, he's given every indication this season that he's adopted that phrase as his motto.

Schwinden, the Mets' 22nd round pick in the 2008 Draft, began the season in Binghamton's bullpen. But after two relief appearances, he was promoted to Buffalo to replace Dillon Gee in the Bisons' starting rotation after Gee was called up by the big league club.

In his first start on April 17, Schwinden tossed five innings of one-run, two-hit ball and struck out nine Pawtucket Red Sox batters. Since then, he's occupied a permanent spot in Buffalo's rotation.

"I think the difference this year is he's had the opportunity to pitch every five days and he's been able to take advantage of the situation," said Buffalo pitching coach Ricky Bones. "He's always had that command and good stuff."

"Now he's able to execute in a game and he's making the best of his opportunity," Bones continued.

Through 24 starts, Schwinden is 7-7 with a 3.86 ERA and a 123/45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 135 1/3 innings. The opposition is hitting just .242 off the right-hander. On June 26, Schwinden retired a team-high 17 consecutive batters against Norfolk.

What's also worth noting is that in five of his starts, the Bisons have scored a grand total of 11 runs. As a team, Buffalo ranks ninth in the International League in team batting average (.258) and 12th in home runs (97).

Schwinden's stats are in stark contrast to the ones he posted last season while flipping between the bullpen and starting rotation, first in St. Lucie and then in Binghamton. In High-A, he was a commendable 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA. But in 17 games (14 starts) with the B-Mets, he was 4-7 with a 5.56 ERA.

So what is the reason for his improved performance?

"Coming out of the bullpen is a different story," said Schwinden. "To have the chance to come here and start is awesome because you can get more outs with which to work. I think repetition is the correct word."

"You can be up every day in the bullpen. As a starter, you have your set days (to pitch). As you come out of the bullpen, you have a different lifestyle within the game itself. But the main thing has been executing pitches. Ricky's helped me out tremendously this year. He told me straight out the key to pitching is executing strikes."

Schwinden was rewarded for his first-half success when he was named the Bisons' lone representative to the International League squad for the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 13.

"If somebody had told me that was going to happen before the season started, I would have told him he was a liar," Schwinden said with a smile. "I wouldn't have believed it at all. For it to happen is unbelievable. And for this to happen this year, after coming out of the bullpen in Binghamton, it's one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me in professional baseball so far. I can't complain at all."

Neither could his All-Star teammates as Schwinden went on to pitch one scoreless inning as his IL team blanked the Pacific Coast League 3-0.

Schwinden, originally selected in the 43rd round of the 2004 Draft by the Detroit Tigers, opted to forgo his initial draft position to attend the College of the Sequoias.

Eventually, Schwinden transferred to Fresno State where – as a senior – he morphed into the Bulldogs' ace. During his last season, he went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA and struck out a single-season record 96 batters.

"I was picked as a draft-and-follow, plus I wasn't big enough," Schwinden explained about his initial selection. "I was about 6-feet-2 and 165 pounds out of high school. And I wasn't throwing that hard. I was probably in the mid-to-high 80s. Plus, I still had a lot of growing up to do from a maturity standpoint."

Schwinden ‘s decision is another example of the maturity he's displayed to get himself into a position where he's one step away from the Major Leagues.

"He's a kid who's been working hard and taking advantage of the opportunity he was given," said Bones. "He's commanding both sides of the plate. He's throwing strikes with four pitches…his fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup."

"He goes after hitters. He doesn't nibble and waste any time. If you nibble, you fall behind in the counts and you walk people. In his case, he's a totally opposite guy. He works aggressive in the count and induces early contact," Bones continued.

"By inducing early contact, he gets a lot of outs. He executes location. You can see the numbers. He doesn't allow too many hits (124 hits allowed this season). And when he executes location and throws strikes, he throws quality strikes."

Since, as Bones noted, Schwinden throws "quality strikes," he's evoked comparisons with Gee, who developed into a vital piece of the Mets' 2011 rotation.

"It's a fair comparison, because both kids have good command and they have similar stuff," Bones said. "The only difference is Gee's changeup is a plus pitch, and Schwinden is a plus with his fastball and curveball."

Schwinden has also developed a reputation as a fly ball pitcher. At the risk of looking too far into the future, that would appear to make him a good fit for spacious Citi Field.

"I do get a lot of fly ball outs as compared with ground balls," Schwinden admitted. "I've heard (Citi) is a big ballpark. That would be great for a fly ball pitcher. So we'll what happens."

What happened to Schwinden in the 2008 Draft is noahter example of why draft – regardless of sport – is an inexact science.

"With all due respect to the draft system, you're drafted based on possibilities and abilities," said Bones. "But once they're here and get the opportunity, some kids take advantage of the situation. Some kids really put themselves into it and develop into somebody."

"Some first-round picks are gifts. Some others have to spend time to get better and improve themselves. That's the situation with Chris who, again, is take advantage of the opportunity given to him," Bones explained.

"Never say never," added the Bisons pitching coach, "but be at the right place at the right moment."

In retrospect, that's exactly what happened with Schwinden.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nAs anybody who's studied Latin knows, carpe diem means \"seize the day.\"\r\n

\r\nEven though Buffalo Bisons right-hander Chris Schwinden probably didn't study Latin in high school or college, he's given every indication this season that he's adopted that phrase as his motto.\r\n

\r\nSchwinden, the Mets' 22nd round pick in the 2008 Draft, began the season in Binghamton's bullpen. But after two relief appearances, he was promoted to Buffalo to replace Dillon Gee in the Bisons' starting rotation after Gee was called up by the big league club.\r\n

\r\nIn his first start on April 17, Schwinden tossed five innings of one-run, two-hit ball and struck out nine Pawtucket Red Sox batters. Since then, he's occupied a permanent spot in Buffalo's rotation.\r\n

\r\n\"I think the difference this year is he's had the opportunity to pitch every five days and he's been able to take advantage of the situation,\" said Buffalo pitching coach Ricky Bones. \"He's always had that command and good stuff.\"\r\n

\r\n\"Now he's able to execute in a game and he's making the best of his opportunity,\" Bones continued.\r\n

\r\nThrough 24 starts, Schwinden is 7-7 with a 3.86 ERA and a 123/45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 135 1/3 innings. The opposition is hitting just .242 off the right-hander. On June 26, Schwinden retired a team-high 17 consecutive batters against Norfolk.\r\n

\r\nWhat's also worth noting is that in five of his starts, the Bisons have scored a grand total of 11 runs. As a team, Buffalo ranks ninth in the International League in team batting average (.258) and 12th in home runs (97).\r\n

\r\nSchwinden's stats are in stark contrast to the ones he posted last season while flipping between the bullpen and starting rotation, first in St. Lucie and then in Binghamton. In High-A, he was a commendable 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA. But in 17 games (14 starts) with the B-Mets, he was 4-7 with a 5.56 ERA.\r\n

\r\nSo what is the reason for his improved performance?\r\n

\r\n\"Coming out of the bullpen is a different story,\" said Schwinden. \"To have the chance to come here and start is awesome because you can get more outs with which to work. I think repetition is the correct word.\"\r\n

\r\n\"You can be up every day in the bullpen. As a starter, you have your set days (to pitch). As you come out of the bullpen, you have a different lifestyle within the game itself. But the main thing has been executing pitches. Ricky's helped me out tremendously this year. He told me straight out the key to pitching is executing strikes.\"\r\n

\r\nSchwinden was rewarded for his first-half success when he was named the Bisons' lone representative to the International League squad for the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 13.\r\n

\r\n\"If somebody had told me that was going to happen before the season started, I would have told him he was a liar,\" Schwinden said with a smile. \"I wouldn't have believed it at all. For it to happen is unbelievable. And for this to happen this year, after coming out of the bullpen in Binghamton, it's one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me in professional baseball so far. I can't complain at all.\"\r\n

\r\nNeither could his All-Star teammates as Schwinden went on to pitch one scoreless inning as his IL team blanked the Pacific Coast League 3-0.\r\n

\r\nSchwinden, originally selected in the 43rd round of the 2004 Draft by the Detroit Tigers, opted to forgo his initial draft position to attend the College of the Sequoias.\r\n

\r\nEventually, Schwinden transferred to Fresno State where – as a senior – he morphed into the Bulldogs' ace. During his last season, he went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA and struck out a single-season record 96 batters.\r\n

\r\n\"I was picked as a draft-and-follow, plus I wasn't big enough,\" Schwinden explained about his initial selection. \"I was about 6-feet-2 and 165 pounds out of high school. And I wasn't throwing that hard. I was probably in the mid-to-high 80s. Plus, I still had a lot of growing up to do from a maturity standpoint.\"\r\n

\r\nSchwinden ‘s decision is another example of the maturity he's displayed to get himself into a position where he's one step away from the Major Leagues.\r\n

\r\n\"He's a kid who's been working hard and taking advantage of the opportunity he was given,\" said Bones. \"He's commanding both sides of the plate. He's throwing strikes with four pitches…his fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup.\"\r\n

\r\n\"He goes after hitters. He doesn't nibble and waste any time. If you nibble, you fall behind in the counts and you walk people. In his case, he's a totally opposite guy. He works aggressive in the count and induces early contact,\" Bones continued.\r\n

\r\n\"By inducing early contact, he gets a lot of outs. He executes location. You can see the numbers. He doesn't allow too many hits (124 hits allowed this season). And when he executes location and throws strikes, he throws quality strikes.\"\r\n

\r\nSince, as Bones noted, Schwinden throws \"quality strikes,\" he's evoked comparisons with Gee, who developed into a vital piece of the Mets' 2011 rotation.\r\n

\r\n\"It's a fair comparison, because both kids have good command and they have similar stuff,\" Bones said. \"The only difference is Gee's changeup is a plus pitch, and Schwinden is a plus with his fastball and curveball.\"\r\n

\r\nSchwinden has also developed a reputation as a fly ball pitcher. At the risk of looking too far into the future, that would appear to make him a good fit for spacious Citi Field.\r\n

\r\n\"I do get a lot of fly ball outs as compared with ground balls,\" Schwinden admitted. \"I've heard (Citi) is a big ballpark. That would be great for a fly ball pitcher. So we'll what happens.\"\r\n

\r\nWhat happened to Schwinden in the 2008 Draft is noahter example of why draft – regardless of sport – is an inexact science. \r\n

\r\n\"With all due respect to the draft system, you're drafted based on possibilities and abilities,\" said Bones. \"But once they're here and get the opportunity, some kids take advantage of the situation. Some kids really put themselves into it and develop into somebody.\"\r\n

\r\n\"Some first-round picks are gifts. Some others have to spend time to get better and improve themselves. That's the situation with Chris who, again, is take advantage of the opportunity given to him,\" Bones explained.\r\n

\r\n\"Never say never,\" added the Bisons pitching coach, \"but be at the right place at the right moment.\"\r\n

\r\nIn retrospect, that's exactly what happened with Schwinden.\r\n

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