Spring Report: Josh Stinson

The right-hander enters his first Spring Training after success in the Gulf Coast League and Hagerstown. With an uncommon array of pitches for his age, Stinson has turned many heads within the organization. Inside Pitch Magazine caught up with him Tuesday night.

At just 19 years old, Josh Stinson searches for that perfect arm slot, the ideal motion, the correct balance in weight as he delivers his repertoire that goes five deep. While he may not have all his mechanics harnessed quite yet, in the 40 1/3 innings pitched last year in the Gulf Coast League and Hagerstown he showed exactly why coaches and those in the organization are high on his potential.

Stinson was thrown right into the fire after he graduated from Northwood High School in Louisiana. After he accumulated more innings and more days on the road than ever before, he welcomed the off-season and preparation as he worked towards his first professional camp. While back home, he rested his arm but when the call came from the coaches, he got right to work.

"(The off-season) was a little laid back. I did my workout plan, went to my high school and threw lightly, but my workout was intense. I was in the gym four days and week and I ran a lot. We didn't get our throwing program until January 4th, but when that kicked in, I got it into high gear and got ready to come down. I got a call that I had to be here two weeks earlier," he said.

He did admit he was nervous, yet excited, as he made his way to Port St. Lucie. "I was anxious to get ready for my first spring training but it was a little tense not knowing what it was going to be like," he said.

Despite his feelings, Stinson came to camp and slid right back into a familiar and comfortable setting. "It's been great coming back and seeing guys that you're around nine months out of the year. They become like brothers. It's exciting, I like it a lot," he said.

His main focus this spring is the increased use of his legs in his delivery. Like many young pitchers with untrained mechanics, he pitched all with his arm instead of using his legs to drop and drive. He has worked extensively with Brooklyn Cyclones pitching coach Hector Berrios to correct it.

"I've had a lot of success working with Coach Berrios this spring. Pitching with my legs more has taken a lot of strain off my arm and I've found more consistency in my pitches now than I ever had before," he detailed.

Given his assortment of pitches – fastball, sinker, changeup, slider, and curveball – consistency is required for his progression. Despite already possessing four pitches while in high school, Stinson did not tally a high number of strikeouts during his first trip through the professional ranks. His 19 punch-outs in 40 1/3 innings appear low, but he asserts he cares little for that total.

"I don't think it's all about strikeouts. Personally, if I can get ground balls, those are easy outs. If I try to blow it by everyone, that's when I get could get in trouble. The ball will stay up and that's how I give up home runs. If I keep the ball down in the zone, I'll get more ground balls and those are better than strikeouts," he explained.

Spring Training offered him his initial opportunity pitch against higher level competition. This allowed him to gauge the quality of higher opposition as he measured what it will take to get batters out.

"On the field, the hitters are much more advanced. I've got to find ways to get them out. It takes a lot more work to get these guys out. Strikeouts are good, but it's better to groundouts and keep that pitch count low," Stinson said.

He faces a long road to the big leagues, but given his early success and work ethic, Stinson stands to make his way up the ranks as he strengthens and develops his game. For 2007, "I'd like to get up St. Lucie at least. I'd like to keep my ERA low, below three at least. I like to set my goals high. If I can't get to higher leagues, I want to keep the ERA as low as possible," he closed.

Stinson offered a first hand account of his repertoire:

Fastball: "My control has improved since I've been getting my legs into it more. My fastball hits 88 and sometimes I'll get up to 90. I love it, especially now that I've worked my legs more into my motion. I'm more accurate and I put less pressure on my shoulder."

Sinker: "My sinker is my pitch. I get those ground balls and outs which makes things easier on my fielders. I'm throwing it a lot more now. Last year coming out of high school it wasn't really there yet. In high school, I could just throw hard and get guys out. Now the hitters are tougher and I have to find other ways to get them out and not just try to blow it by them. I have to keep the ball low. The coaches are enforcing to get the ball down in the zone. When my pitchers are down it's tougher for guys to get it in the air."

Changeup: "Last year I was switching grips with it and finding out what worked best for me. I think later in the season I found it. When I went up to Hagerstown I really got the hang of it. This off-season I kept working on it. The fastball may be my best pitch, but the second pitch is what helps get up in the system. I think the changeup is coming along real well."

Slider/Curveball: "I love my slider. I love throwing it. It's my pay off. I've had hitters tell me that I'm the kind of guy in an 0-2 count they won't know what's coming because I can spot the slider when I need to. My curveball is consistent. It's my "get me over" pitch. When I'm having trouble I can throw my curve and I can get back in it. I like my curve a lot. I don't know why, maybe because I throw it for strikes a lot."

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