Cessa Changing It Up

SAVANNAH, GA - Luis Cessa has picked up the nuances of pitching at a quick pace. The 6-foot-3, 190 pound right-hander and converted position player has both impressed coaches and captured a South Atlantic League [SAL] Pitcher of the Week [for June 3rd] award in his first full professional season throwing for the first half SAL champion Savannah Sand Gnats.

Sand Gnats manager Luis Rojas is impressed with the stuff Cessa brings to the table from a physical and mental perspective.

"His command is excellent and he is aggressive with the fastball," Rojas said. "Along with Steven Matz he has the best fastball-changeup contrast on the team. His learning curve is quick because he asks questions and wants answers."

Cessa is a fastball changeup pitcher, and a very effective one considering his young age [21] and limited experience pitching [three years].

Coach Rojas praised Cessa's standout offering which continues to be his four-seam circle changeup. It currently serves as his out-pitch [showing as much as a 10-12 mph differential off his fastball].

As he has mastered his fastball-changeup combo, Cessa's strikeout rates have continued to climb with him in his ascent through the Mets farm system. For a pitcher lacking in prototypical power stuff [his fastball riding 91-93 mph and sometimes a little less], his 97 strikeouts through 104.1 innings are indicative that the contrast and command he has over that combination really is as impressive as Coaches Rojas and Viola say it is.

Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola feels that Cessa's best outings come when he retains his confidence in his changeup, and that his worst outings result when he gets away from the effective contrast that his fastball and changeup present to hitters when mixed together effectively.

"He has to have the changeup in play to be the most effective he can be," Viola said. "His fastball-changeup mix is outstanding. His changeup will play all the way to the big leagues, and one of the poorer outings he's had he gave up a home run on changeup up early and then totally got away from it and it hurt him."

Viola said that when Cessa throws an effective game the percentage breakdown on his pitches will be around 65-70 percent fastball, 15-20 percent [sometimes 25] changeup, and about 5 percent slider.

Cessa and his changeup are an example of a successful product in modern pitching philosophy. According to Coach Viola, 15 years ago a young pitcher like Cessa featuring a change as an out-pitch would have been abnormal. But in this day and age it's right in line with many organizations stressing fastball-changeup development in young pitchers.

Coach Rojas thinks that one major difference between Cessa now and Cessa in previous years is the reduced reliance on a get-me-over tumbling curveball that coaches felt was not effective for Cessa, and instead the incorporation of a slider that continues to improve.

Coach Viola said that slider continues to be a work in progress.

"He has had some really good games with it and some games where he has struggled with it, but he has to keep throwing it as a show-me pitch," Viola said. "A hitter's eye has to change and that's where the slider comes into play."

Racking up strikeouts implies deeper counts. But those deeper counts haven't negatively impacted Cessa's control numbers. His 17 walks are among the best in the South Atlantic League in the innings pitched category.

Coach Viola reported that Cessa's negative starts have come on days where his control is out over the plate. But this is more easily fixed than a pitcher who is struggling to find the plate.

Luis Cessa is also honest about his emotions on the mound, admitting that at times he feels tight and possibly even a little nervous. Cessa says that those are the moments when he is leaving his pitches up and hittable, and exits the mound dissatisfied with his outing.

But nevertheless Cessa reports liking the pressure, and takes particular pride when he performs well in a high pressure situation.

"I like it when there is pressure to hold a close lead and I have a good inning," Cessa said.

So it is no surprise that Cessa says his personal proudest moment of the 2013 season came in a game against Greenville where he escaped a bases loaded and nobody out jam by striking out the side.

"That moment I was very happy with how I came through by striking out all three hitters [two on fastballs, one on a changeup] to prevent a run from scoring," Cessa admitted.

Cessa has found increased confidence in his breaking balls this season and it shows in the frequency with which he throws them.

"Last season in Brooklyn I might throw 25 changeups in one game and only two or three sliders. This season, for example, I might throw maybe 20 changeups and 10 sliders," Cessa revealed.

However, Cessa still has yet to find the confidence to throw an offspeed pitch in a fastball count.

"If I get behind 2-0 in the count and I throw a changeup, then all of a sudden it's 3-0 and the hitter is really in control," Cessa added.

Coach Viola says his only small complaint with Cessa is that he would like to see Cessa pitch off the plate inside more frequently. But Viola added that this will simply be another step in Cessa's development process.

When Cessa does come inside he likes to do so with a two-seam fastball to right-handers and a four-seam to left-handers. Already surpassing the 100 innings pitched mark, Cessa has eclipsed his total from 2012 by more than 30 innings.

And it is because of that increased workload that Cessa is very concerned with trying to finish the season mentally and physically strong. He recently went to Sand Gnats strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin to express those concerns.

"I went to Jason and told him I needed to work harder," Cessa said. "I wanted to run more and work harder in the weight room and keep maintaining my strength."

But coaches also say that Cessa is not showing many signs of fatigue. Coach Viola said that in Cessa's rough start against Delmarva [five earned in five innings] his fastball was down but not much.

Right now Cessa's winter plans will take him back to his native Mexico. He plans to pitch for Yaquis de Obregon. But those plans are contingent on what the Mets may or may not want to do with him. And Cessa has yet to hear anything from the Mets in that respect.

Speaking with Luis Cessa it is clear that you are speaking with a very determined, intelligent, and focused young player. He is a player who thinks about his starts and plans ahead. Those attributes will be very important as he moves upward towards the major leagues.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nSand Gnats manager Luis Rojas is impressed with the stuff Cessa brings to the table from a physical and mental perspective.
\r\n
\r\n\"His command is excellent and he is aggressive with the fastball,\" Rojas said. \"Along with Steven Matz he has the best fastball-changeup contrast on the team. His learning curve is quick because he asks questions and wants answers.\"
\r\n
\r\nCessa is a fastball changeup pitcher, and a very effective one considering his young age [21] and limited experience pitching [three years].
\r\n
\r\nCoach Rojas praised Cessa's standout offering which continues to be his four-seam circle changeup. It currently serves as his out-pitch [showing as much as a 10-12 mph differential off his fastball].
\r\n
\r\nAs he has mastered his fastball-changeup combo, Cessa's strikeout rates have continued to climb with him in his ascent through the Mets farm system. For a pitcher lacking in prototypical power stuff [his fastball riding 91-93 mph and sometimes a little less], his 97 strikeouts through 104.1 innings are indicative that the contrast and command he has over that combination really is as impressive as Coaches Rojas and Viola say it is.
\r\n
\r\nGnats pitching coach Frank Viola feels that Cessa's best outings come when he retains his confidence in his changeup, and that his worst outings result when he gets away from the effective contrast that his fastball and changeup present to hitters when mixed together effectively.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has to have the changeup in play to be the most effective he can be,\" Viola said. \"His fastball-changeup mix is outstanding. His changeup will play all the way to the big leagues, and one of the poorer outings he's had he gave up a home run on changeup up early and then totally got away from it and it hurt him.\"
\r\n
\r\nViola said that when Cessa throws an effective game the percentage breakdown on his pitches will be around 65-70 percent fastball, 15-20 percent [sometimes 25] changeup, and about 5 percent slider.
\r\n
\r\nCessa and his changeup are an example of a successful product in modern pitching philosophy. According to Coach Viola, 15 years ago a young pitcher like Cessa featuring a change as an out-pitch would have been abnormal. But in this day and age it's right in line with many organizations stressing fastball-changeup development in young pitchers.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Rojas thinks that one major difference between Cessa now and Cessa in previous years is the reduced reliance on a get-me-over tumbling curveball that coaches felt was not effective for Cessa, and instead the incorporation of a slider that continues to improve.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Viola said that slider continues to be a work in progress.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has had some really good games with it and some games where he has struggled with it, but he has to keep throwing it as a show-me pitch,\" Viola said. \"A hitter's eye has to change and that's where the slider comes into play.\"
\r\n
\r\nRacking up strikeouts implies deeper counts. But those deeper counts haven't negatively impacted Cessa's control numbers. His 17 walks are among the best in the South Atlantic League in the innings pitched category.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Viola reported that Cessa's negative starts have come on days where his control is out over the plate. But this is more easily fixed than a pitcher who is struggling to find the plate.
\r\n
\r\nLuis Cessa is also honest about his emotions on the mound, admitting that at times he feels tight and possibly even a little nervous. Cessa says that those are the moments when he is leaving his pitches up and hittable, and exits the mound dissatisfied with his outing.
\r\n
\r\nBut nevertheless Cessa reports liking the pressure, and takes particular pride when he performs well in a high pressure situation.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like it when there is pressure to hold a close lead and I have a good inning,\" Cessa said.
\r\n
\r\nSo it is no surprise that Cessa says his personal proudest moment of the 2013 season came in a game against Greenville where he escaped a bases loaded and nobody out jam by striking out the side.
\r\n
\r\n\"That moment I was very happy with how I came through by striking out all three hitters [two on fastballs, one on a changeup] to prevent a run from scoring,\" Cessa admitted.
\r\n
\r\nCessa has found increased confidence in his breaking balls this season and it shows in the frequency with which he throws them.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last season in Brooklyn I might throw 25 changeups in one game and only two or three sliders. This season, for example, I might throw maybe 20 changeups and 10 sliders,\" Cessa revealed.
\r\n
\r\nHowever, Cessa still has yet to find the confidence to throw an offspeed pitch in a fastball count.
\r\n
\r\n\"If I get behind 2-0 in the count and I throw a changeup, then all of a sudden it's 3-0 and the hitter is really in control,\" Cessa added.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Viola says his only small complaint with Cessa is that he would like to see Cessa pitch off the plate inside more frequently. But Viola added that this will simply be another step in Cessa's development process.
\r\n
\r\nWhen Cessa does come inside he likes to do so with a two-seam fastball to right-handers and a four-seam to left-handers. Already surpassing the 100 innings pitched mark, Cessa has eclipsed his total from 2012 by more than 30 innings.
\r\n
\r\nAnd it is because of that increased workload that Cessa is very concerned with trying to finish the season mentally and physically strong. He recently went to Sand Gnats strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin to express those concerns.
\r\n
\r\n\"I went to Jason and told him I needed to work harder,\" Cessa said. \"I wanted to run more and work harder in the weight room and keep maintaining my strength.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut coaches also say that Cessa is not showing many signs of fatigue. Coach Viola said that in Cessa's rough start against Delmarva [five earned in five innings] his fastball was down but not much.
\r\n
\r\nRight now Cessa's winter plans will take him back to his native Mexico. He plans to pitch for Yaquis de Obregon. But those plans are contingent on what the Mets may or may not want to do with him. And Cessa has yet to hear anything from the Mets in that respect.
\r\n
\r\nSpeaking with Luis Cessa it is clear that you are speaking with a very determined, intelligent, and focused young player. He is a player who thinks about his starts and plans ahead. Those attributes will be very important as he moves upward towards the major leagues.
\r\n
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