Holdzkom Gears Up for Spring

InsidePitch revisited John Holdzkom two weeks into Spring Training to see how the big right-hander prepared for his second season of professional ball. Holdskom seeks to turn around a lackluster rookie campaign with the GCL Mets. The imposing 6'8" right-hander's well documented struggles did not soften his approach as he gears up for the season in Port St. Lucie.

His size, and the power that's offered with it, spreads that sense of promise which is why coaches will continue to work with him. At just 19 years old, John Holdzkom has the time, and support from the coaches, to battle through troubles and climb the learning curve.

With a renewed focus, Holdzkom not only wants to meet his coaches' expectations but those of his own. The condition in which Holdzkom showed up to camp was the first sign of progression. The righty visibly exceeded his roster sheet weight last season, but he knows that how he conditions, will show results on the mound.

"I'm a big guy anyway. But I know the shape I was in is not acceptable. It hurts my mechanics and those are tough to control as it is. The more I work, the better my mechanics will be. It can get monotonous but it will pay off," he said.

However, Holdzkom disclosed he is not all the back to his ideal weight. "It takes work to stay focus off the field too and I needed to get serious about how I take care of myself," he admitted.

Feeling better physically, he faces another battle ahead of him, the maturation his game. Holdzkom, known in the Mets system for his great heat, wants to develop the slider he pairs with his fastball and develop the changeup which has tested him for some time. His walks-to-innings pitched demonstrated a lack of control.

He feels confident he can overpower his competition with the mix of his fastball and his slider, which he declares his out pitch. Yet what Holdzkom possesses in those pitches, he lacks in his changeup. Changing speeds on hitters and keeping them off balance will help him grow into a quality pitcher.

With his large frame, high leg kick and slow delivery, baserunners had an easy time throwing him off. Holdzkom intends to improve this area because he knows how important it is to pitch from the stretch.

"Holding runners (from the stretch) is big. I was long the plate a lot last year. This is an area coaches stressed with me. With my frame though, it's tough to keep running close. I'm looking for a balance that will keep me successful with hitters and keep guys close," he said.

As he reigns in his mechanics, expands his repertoire and builds a stronger grasp of the game, Holdzkom will overcome the mental blocks that have negated his progress. He mentioned how he was ill-prepared for what he faced.

"The competiton last year was a real shock to me. You can't start thinking about other things on the mound here; you have to get in a zone. Sometimes I would start thinking how hard I was throwing or what's happening in the game around me. I forgot to just focus on each pitch and each hitter," Holdzkom explained.

Holdzkom has worked out with his rookie league coaches while in Port St. Lucie and he attributes progress he's made so far this season to patience of his coaches. He respectfully accepts the trust they have put into him and hopes turns that into quality pitching.

"The coaches have been great. They haven't put too much pressure on me. It's helped me concentrate harder and allowed me to get better," he said.

Holdzkom further detailed his goal to improve his changeup with the hope to earn another crack at starting again in the future. First though, the burly right-hander must overcome a trying rookie campaign and show signs of the success that he flashed in the past.

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