Koch Remaining Aggressive

SAVANNAH, GA - Mets pitching prospect Matthew Koch has a power arm and experience as a starter and a reliever. In 2013 Koch has been starting for low-A Savannah and thus far has demonstrated impeccable control as well as an ability to use his plus fastball and aggressive mentality to go after the strikeout.

However, learning the craft of starting in professional baseball has not come without growing pains and improving his game planning and offspeed offerings will be paramount to his ability to continue up through the Mets system.

"This guy has the ability to throw the ball past bats," Gnats manager Luis Rojas said.

But Rojas said that the focal point of Koch's development this year has been on increasing the contrast between his power fastball and secondary pitches.

"He throws everything very hard," Rojas added, "and we are trying to create more of a drop-off in speed between his fastball and slider."

Overall Rojas is happy with the job Koch has done through his first eleven appearances.

"At the first of the year he was piggybacking with Logan [Taylor] but since Logan got hurt he has started the games on his own and has been able to come in and give us six solid innings," Rojas said.

Piggybacking is kind of like being a long reliever, and Koch has extensive experience at pitching at both the beginning and end of a baseball game. At his Alma Mater Louisville his junior year he made 22 relief appearances, notching four saves after starting eleven games as a sophomore.

Koch, who has been hovering around 85 pitches per start, prefers starting to relieving and is happy to not be pitching out of a piggyback scenario for the time being.

"I like starting and I like trying to stay out there as long as I can to help get the team the win," Koch said.

Koch's arsenal of pitches is highlighted by his strong fastball which rides in the low to mid 90s [Koch said he throws his four and two seam fastballs around the same speed]. Koch also throws a two-seam circle changeup that he uses against lefties and righties to help keep them from sitting on his fastball.

Sand Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola said that Koch also has a kind of 11-6 curveball that is somewhat of a slurve.

"It's kind of a cutter but not really," Viola said. "It works when he gets op top of it instead of coming around it [taking his fingers to the side of the ball]."

Koch's favorite pitch is his fastball and it fits in with his aggressive mentality.

"The fastball is definitely my favorite pitch to get the strikeout. I'm never afraid to throw the fastball in the right situation," Koch admitted.

Creating the speed contrast has been the main focus of Koch's development in 2013. And thus far coaches think he has done a great job.

"Lately his change has been 10 to 12 miles-per-hour off his fastball, which is great," Viola remarked.

Coach Viola said that Koch is getting better and better in every start and that he has already improved leaps and bounds since March.

"At Instructs this spring [the hitters] were getting the good part of the bat on the ball against him, but some of that is attributed to his still not quite knowing what pitching was all about," Viola added. "He had never called his own pitches and didn't really have a feel for what to throw when."

But Viola said that in his last four appearances for Savannah that Koch has improved greatly and has shown to be a fast learner when it comes to developing game plans.

What comes screaming off the stats sheet when one looks up Koch's performance in 2013 is the near total absence of walks. Through his first eleven appearances and 51.1 innings in 2013 Koch had walked only one hitter. That's good enough for best in the South Atlantic League amongst starting pitchers.

Koch thinks his aggressive and fastball oriented pitching philosophy aids in his ability to limit free passes.

"I've always been an aggressive type guy and with walks I think of it as more of a mental process. I hate free passes and want to make guys earn getting on against me," Koch said.

Koch's ability to limit his walks appears to be in line with the rest of the Sand Gants pitchers and coaching philosophy. Overall the Gnats have given up the fewest walks in the South Atlantic League and Koch is definitely a big part of that.

"The best pitch in baseball is strike one and this guy pitches like he knows that," Viola reiterated.

Coach Viola prefers his pitchers to be aggressive establishing the fastball early in games and says that Koch and Gnats starter Steven Matz have been the best at using the fastball inside to make hitters uncomfortable and have been able to jam hitters in the process.

To train for this season Koch went back to Louisville [where he also earned his degree in Sport Administration] to work out with former teammates and nationals prospects Neil Holland and Derek Self.

"The school was nice enough to let me use its facilities and those guys [Holland and Self] are good guys who are good to train around," Koch said.

He also said he wanted rebuild from last season and to get himself stronger all around and in his lower body to prepare for a 140 game season in 2013.

Sand Gnats strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin said that when Koch began to start games this year he wanted a routine that he felt would keep him agile and ready on the mound.

"We've got him doing squats at 225, 245, and 275 right now, as well as other agility and and strength exercises designed to aid his explosiveness coming off the mound to make a play," Griffin revealed.

"Coach Griffin and Coach Viola have done a really good job at getting together a good routine for me between starts," Koch said.

By far Koch's' worst start of the year was May 24 against Augusta, a start which ironically went in the win column for him. Koch began the game by striking out two of the first three GreenJackets he faced. But over the next two innings the GreenJackets squared up Koch five runs on six hits, including two homers off the bats of Mitchell Delfino and Rafael Rodriguez.

Koch's box score at the end of the game read like many young talented pitchers still getting their feet wet in the pros: a mix of good and not so good. Five innings, five runs, five strikeouts. On the positive side, Koch walked no GreenJackets. All but one of their runs had to be earned.

In that game Koch's fastball was in the 92-94 range and his slider was 86-88 in the innings where he ran into trouble, perhaps indicating a lack of the contrast the Koch has been working toward.

Rojas wants Koch to keep working on his sequence for the remainder of the year and thinks that eventually the contrast between his fastball and changeup will be key to increasing his chances of success as a starter going forward.

"My goal for the rest of the season is to keep attacking hitters and keep working on and developing my changeup. And to help this team win," Koch concluded.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nHowever, learning the craft of starting in professional baseball has not come without growing pains and improving his game planning and offspeed offerings will be paramount to his ability to continue up through the Mets system.
\r\n
\r\n\"This guy has the ability to throw the ball past bats,\" Gnats manager Luis Rojas said.
\r\n
\r\nBut Rojas said that the focal point of Koch's development this year has been on increasing the contrast between his power fastball and secondary pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"He throws everything very hard,\" Rojas added, \"and we are trying to create more of a drop-off in speed between his fastball and slider.\"
\r\n
\r\nOverall Rojas is happy with the job Koch has done through his first eleven appearances.
\r\n
\r\n\"At the first of the year he was piggybacking with Logan [Taylor] but since Logan got hurt he has started the games on his own and has been able to come in and give us six solid innings,\" Rojas said.
\r\n
\r\nPiggybacking is kind of like being a long reliever, and Koch has extensive experience at pitching at both the beginning and end of a baseball game. At his Alma Mater Louisville his junior year he made 22 relief appearances, notching four saves after starting eleven games as a sophomore.
\r\n
\r\nKoch, who has been hovering around 85 pitches per start, prefers starting to relieving and is happy to not be pitching out of a piggyback scenario for the time being.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like starting and I like trying to stay out there as long as I can to help get the team the win,\" Koch said.
\r\n
\r\nKoch's arsenal of pitches is highlighted by his strong fastball which rides in the low to mid 90s [Koch said he throws his four and two seam fastballs around the same speed]. Koch also throws a two-seam circle changeup that he uses against lefties and righties to help keep them from sitting on his fastball.
\r\n
\r\nSand Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola said that Koch also has a kind of 11-6 curveball that is somewhat of a slurve.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's kind of a cutter but not really,\" Viola said. \"It works when he gets op top of it instead of coming around it [taking his fingers to the side of the ball].\"
\r\n
\r\nKoch's favorite pitch is his fastball and it fits in with his aggressive mentality.
\r\n
\r\n\"The fastball is definitely my favorite pitch to get the strikeout. I'm never afraid to throw the fastball in the right situation,\" Koch admitted.
\r\n
\r\nCreating the speed contrast has been the main focus of Koch's development in 2013. And thus far coaches think he has done a great job.
\r\n
\r\n\"Lately his change has been 10 to 12 miles-per-hour off his fastball, which is great,\" Viola remarked.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Viola said that Koch is getting better and better in every start and that he has already improved leaps and bounds since March.
\r\n
\r\n\"At Instructs this spring [the hitters] were getting the good part of the bat on the ball against him, but some of that is attributed to his still not quite knowing what pitching was all about,\" Viola added. \"He had never called his own pitches and didn't really have a feel for what to throw when.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut Viola said that in his last four appearances for Savannah that Koch has improved greatly and has shown to be a fast learner when it comes to developing game plans.
\r\n
\r\nWhat comes screaming off the stats sheet when one looks up Koch's performance in 2013 is the near total absence of walks. Through his first eleven appearances and 51.1 innings in 2013 Koch had walked only one hitter. That's good enough for best in the South Atlantic League amongst starting pitchers.
\r\n
\r\nKoch thinks his aggressive and fastball oriented pitching philosophy aids in his ability to limit free passes.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've always been an aggressive type guy and with walks I think of it as more of a mental process. I hate free passes and want to make guys earn getting on against me,\" Koch said.
\r\n
\r\nKoch's ability to limit his walks appears to be in line with the rest of the Sand Gants pitchers and coaching philosophy. Overall the Gnats have given up the fewest walks in the South Atlantic League and Koch is definitely a big part of that.
\r\n
\r\n\"The best pitch in baseball is strike one and this guy pitches like he knows that,\" Viola reiterated.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Viola prefers his pitchers to be aggressive establishing the fastball early in games and says that Koch and Gnats starter Steven Matz have been the best at using the fastball inside to make hitters uncomfortable and have been able to jam hitters in the process.
\r\n
\r\nTo train for this season Koch went back to Louisville [where he also earned his degree in Sport Administration] to work out with former teammates and nationals prospects Neil Holland and Derek Self.
\r\n
\r\n\"The school was nice enough to let me use its facilities and those guys [Holland and Self] are good guys who are good to train around,\" Koch said.
\r\n
\r\nHe also said he wanted rebuild from last season and to get himself stronger all around and in his lower body to prepare for a 140 game season in 2013.
\r\n
\r\nSand Gnats strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin said that when Koch began to start games this year he wanted a routine that he felt would keep him agile and ready on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"We've got him doing squats at 225, 245, and 275 right now, as well as other agility and and strength exercises designed to aid his explosiveness coming off the mound to make a play,\" Griffin revealed.
\r\n
\r\n\"Coach Griffin and Coach Viola have done a really good job at getting together a good routine for me between starts,\" Koch said.
\r\n
\r\nBy far Koch's' worst start of the year was May 24 against Augusta, a start which ironically went in the win column for him. Koch began the game by striking out two of the first three GreenJackets he faced. But over the next two innings the GreenJackets squared up Koch five runs on six hits, including two homers off the bats of Mitchell Delfino and Rafael Rodriguez.
\r\n
\r\nKoch's box score at the end of the game read like many young talented pitchers still getting their feet wet in the pros: a mix of good and not so good. Five innings, five runs, five strikeouts. On the positive side, Koch walked no GreenJackets. All but one of their runs had to be earned.
\r\n
\r\nIn that game Koch's fastball was in the 92-94 range and his slider was 86-88 in the innings where he ran into trouble, perhaps indicating a lack of the contrast the Koch has been working toward.
\r\n
\r\nRojas wants Koch to keep working on his sequence for the remainder of the year and thinks that eventually the contrast between his fastball and changeup will be key to increasing his chances of success as a starter going forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"My goal for the rest of the season is to keep attacking hitters and keep working on and developing my changeup. And to help this team win,\" Koch concluded.
\r\n
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