Lara's Hard Work Paying Off

ST. LUCIE, FL – Major League Baseball's farm system is merit based: you produce, you move up. Few have understood this concept better than right-handed pitcher Rainy Lara. The 22-year-old posted eye-popping numbers in his eight games with the Savannah Sand Gnats – a 1.42 ERA along with 51 strikeouts and just six walks in 50.2 innings – and thus earned himself a promotion to St. Lucie in late May.

Six games in, the youngster from Bani in the Dominican Republic is trying to build a case for yet another promotion.

When Lara was sent over from Savannah, Mets' manager Ryan Ellis was confident that the right-hander would make the transition to the Florida State League a quick one. His conviction was then confirmed when he saw Lara in person.

"I like the kid," Ellis said. "I like his demeanor on the mound. I think he has a good feel for pitching. I think he has good fastball command and along with a very good slider.

"I didn't see a problem with him translating to this league and whenever you get guys who can throw strikes and command the fastball those are the guys who usually have a lot of success."

Even the few doubts Ellis had were soon wiped away.

"I wasn't sure about his offspeed pitches or secondary pitches, but I really like his secondary pitches which he mixes in very well off of the fastball. So I think he's done a very good job with that."

But not only Lara's coaches and numbers [with St. Lucie he has posted a 2.31 ERA along with 33 strikeouts in 35 innings] speak to his talent level and ability, his teammates do so as well.

"He's just being consistent," catcher Kevin Plawecki said. "He can locate all of his pitches really well at any time in the count and when you got a guy who can do that it's pretty deadly – you got the other team guessing just about every pitch.

"So when you got those guys on the other team, you know, feeling uncomfortable in the box you use that to your advantage and all year in Savannah and here now, you can see that he's just been working really well with what he's got and he's been executing [his pitches] really well.

"He hasn't been making too many mistakes and hopefully [he'll] continue to make those good pitches."

Lara himself feels like he is at the peak of his powers and said that he believes he is "eight times" the pitcher he was last year. Of course, Lara's success and improvement didn't happen overnight. He had to make adjustments to adapt to the new level of play.

"The biggest adjustment was the consistency of my slider, because I feel like having that secondary pitch effective here is going to be key for me to succeed at this level," Lara said through the help of a translator.

Some improvements, on the other hand, are still in the works.

"Pitching inside will be the biggest improvement that I have to make, being more comfortable with pitching inside [at] different counts," Lara said.

Ellis, meanwhile, would like to see the young pitcher improve in a different area.

"I think he can get deeper into games and I think he can learn to … you know, he pitches to contact, that's a good thing. He sets up hitters nice, but I think he's throwing a lot of pitches early whenever he doesn't have to.

"With that said, sometimes every once in a while you can seem him kind of veering away from contact with certain hitters, usually in the middle of the lineup. I think he could concentrate a little bit more on pitching to contact to those guys with the location of the fastball that we've already talked about. So his pitch count wouldn't get so high so early.

"But with that said, he does a really good job battling and trying to get deeper into ballgames. So that's kind of the adjustments that he's going through right now."

For Plawecki, on the other hand, the adjustments he would like to see the young pitcher make are more psychological in nature.

"He doesn't show his competitive edge as much as you like, but you know he's competitive," said the catcher. "I'd just like to see him get fired up a little bit more. When he gets out of a big jam, you know, just give me a little fist bump or something like that.

"But it's just who he is, it's kind of hard to change a guy from what kind of personality he is and that's just what kind of personality he brings and that's fine. He is who he is and hopefully he can just continue to get better and continue to keep working."

There is no doubt Lara will strive to further improve his game and although he is confident in his ability as a pitcher, his recent success has come as a bit of a surprise, too.

"Of course you always find a little bit of surprise when things are going that well, but at the end of the day the hard work that I put in in the offseason, in Spring Training and ultimately [during] the season has made me succeed in the season so far," Lara concluded.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nSix games in, the youngster from Bani in the Dominican Republic is trying to build a case for yet another promotion.
\r\n
\r\nWhen Lara was sent over from Savannah, Mets' manager Ryan Ellis was confident that the right-hander would make the transition to the Florida State League a quick one. His conviction was then confirmed when he saw Lara in person.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like the kid,\" Ellis said. \"I like his demeanor on the mound. I think he has a good feel for pitching. I think he has good fastball command and along with a very good slider.
\r\n
\r\n\"I didn't see a problem with him translating to this league and whenever you get guys who can throw strikes and command the fastball those are the guys who usually have a lot of success.\"
\r\n
\r\nEven the few doubts Ellis had were soon wiped away.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wasn't sure about his offspeed pitches or secondary pitches, but I really like his secondary pitches which he mixes in very well off of the fastball. So I think he's done a very good job with that.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut not only Lara's coaches and numbers [with St. Lucie he has posted a 2.31 ERA along with 33 strikeouts in 35 innings] speak to his talent level and ability, his teammates do so as well.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's just being consistent,\" catcher Kevin Plawecki said. \"He can locate all of his pitches really well at any time in the count and when you got a guy who can do that it's pretty deadly – you got the other team guessing just about every pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"So when you got those guys on the other team, you know, feeling uncomfortable in the box you use that to your advantage and all year in Savannah and here now, you can see that he's just been working really well with what he's got and he's been executing [his pitches] really well.
\r\n
\r\n\"He hasn't been making too many mistakes and hopefully [he'll] continue to make those good pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nLara himself feels like he is at the peak of his powers and said that he believes he is \"eight times\" the pitcher he was last year. Of course, Lara's success and improvement didn't happen overnight. He had to make adjustments to adapt to the new level of play.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest adjustment was the consistency of my slider, because I feel like having that secondary pitch effective here is going to be key for me to succeed at this level,\" Lara said through the help of a translator.
\r\n
\r\nSome improvements, on the other hand, are still in the works.
\r\n
\r\n\"Pitching inside will be the biggest improvement that I have to make, being more comfortable with pitching inside [at] different counts,\" Lara said.
\r\n
\r\nEllis, meanwhile, would like to see the young pitcher improve in a different area.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he can get deeper into games and I think he can learn to … you know, he pitches to contact, that's a good thing. He sets up hitters nice, but I think he's throwing a lot of pitches early whenever he doesn't have to.
\r\n
\r\n\"With that said, sometimes every once in a while you can seem him kind of veering away from contact with certain hitters, usually in the middle of the lineup. I think he could concentrate a little bit more on pitching to contact to those guys with the location of the fastball that we've already talked about. So his pitch count wouldn't get so high so early.
\r\n
\r\n\"But with that said, he does a really good job battling and trying to get deeper into ballgames. So that's kind of the adjustments that he's going through right now.\"
\r\n
\r\nFor Plawecki, on the other hand, the adjustments he would like to see the young pitcher make are more psychological in nature.
\r\n
\r\n\"He doesn't show his competitive edge as much as you like, but you know he's competitive,\" said the catcher. \"I'd just like to see him get fired up a little bit more. When he gets out of a big jam, you know, just give me a little fist bump or something like that.
\r\n
\r\n\"But it's just who he is, it's kind of hard to change a guy from what kind of personality he is and that's just what kind of personality he brings and that's fine. He is who he is and hopefully he can just continue to get better and continue to keep working.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere is no doubt Lara will strive to further improve his game and although he is confident in his ability as a pitcher, his recent success has come as a bit of a surprise, too.
\r\n
\r\n\"Of course you always find a little bit of surprise when things are going that well, but at the end of the day the hard work that I put in in the offseason, in Spring Training and ultimately [during] the season has made me succeed in the season so far,\" Lara concluded.
\r\n
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