Niesen Keeps Fighting

St. Lucie left-hander Eric Niesen has endured a tough start to his second season and has not built the consistency he hoped for. But, no matter the problem, Niesen continues to push on and pitch his way through troubled times. He explained to Inside Pitch the exact measures he is taking to improve the quality of his game.

Following his selection in the third round of the 2007 Draft, Eric Niesen put together a fine rookie season in Brooklyn where, despite not recording a win, he demonstrated a quality array of pitches and a strong mound aptitude. Though he is not an overly hard thrower [he typically sits 91-92 MPH on his fastball], the skill in which he mixed pitches created a belief that his transition to a higher level would be a fairly smooth one after earning his final appearance of 2007 in St. Lucie.

However, from the early stages of this season, he would not attain the success that was anticipated. Though sharp in his first outing of the season [one earned run in five innings], he finished April with a 0-3 record and a 5.67 ERA and the warning signs were evident. Niesen had trouble spotting just about his entire repertoire and hitters took advantage.

"As a team we've definitely struggled, but I know I have my own things to work through. I'm working hard and we're staying together as a team and I think even that says a lot about the environment here. I believe that we all can turn it around and I need to do my part," said Niesen.

"I think everyone here is realizing that being at a higher level means that we all have to play at a higher level and that's the outlook I have. That means a lot more focus for me. I feel like I have the same stuff, but it means focusing harder and being more consistent with my pitches. I think that's what we're all starting to learn and when that kicks in, I think I'll be better off."

However, as noted, the consistency of his pitches has been a pain point which has led to 48 hits allowed in 39.2 innings pitched and a .298 opponent's batting average. So far for Niesen, the season's biggest lesson is learning a new approach for every hitter, every inning while staying within his comfort zone.

"The hitters here are very aggressive and know what they are looking for at the same time. My game centers on being able to stay down in the strike zone. The coaches are always telling us not to leave the ball up and that's what I'm trying to do," he explained.

"It's really important that I focus on every single pitch because each pitch could be a difference maker. I can't try to beat hitters by throwing as hard I can. It's about locating and you realize as long as you can locate, you can be successful at any level."

Not only does focus help him gain consistency but should also help his ability to locate pitches when he needs to. Too often this season, Niesen left balls up in the zone or over too much of the plate leading to big innings.

"The coaches are trying to show me that I have to pitch up, pitch down and side to side. Even though the movement on my pitches is important, I just can't throw the ball over the plate and expect movement to take care of the rest."

"When I get location and movement going that's when I'll be most efficient. I need to go out there and not get too far ahead of myself."

An even more noticeable struggle for Niesen is his ineffectiveness against right-handed hitters. Niesen owns a .250 opponent's batting average and has allowed only 12 base hits to lefties, but turn them around and righties have hit him at a .319 pace with three times as many hits. He knows to see the improvements he desires, that is a issue he must correct and it begins and ends with consistency.

"More than anything else, I need to get ahead with the fastball and then mix in my off-speed pitches. I don't want to be in a position where I'm throwing fastballs behind in the count and let the hitter wait on it. I think I've put myself in that position too much this year and that's why righties have got the best of me at times," he detailed.

However no amount of struggles will keep Niesen down. With a strong belief in the quality of his pitches and his will to make the changes necessary to find success, the left-hander feels it is only amount of time until things turn in his favor. Tuesday night, Niesen finally earned his first professional win after 18 career starts and thoughts are removing that monkey off his back will lead to greater fortune through the summer.

"I still feel like my pitches are working for me," he said with confidence. "I feel like I have the three pitches to locate and mix things up for hitters, but it's about throwing them where I want at any time."

"The best thing I can do is continue to learn every month which I think will make me better from month to month. I've had my struggles so far but as long as I continue to put the work in and make the adjustments that I need after seeing teams and lineups multiple times, I think I'll see the results I want," he closed


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nFollowing his selection in the third round of the 2007 Draft, Eric Niesen put together a fine rookie season in Brooklyn where, despite not recording a win, he demonstrated a quality array of pitches and a strong mound aptitude. Though he is not an overly hard thrower [he typically sits 91-92 MPH on his fastball], the skill in which he mixed pitches created a belief that his transition to a higher level would be a fairly smooth one after earning his final appearance of 2007 in St. Lucie.
\r\n
\r\nHowever, from the early stages of this season, he would not attain the success that was anticipated. Though sharp in his first outing of the season [one earned run in five innings], he finished April with a 0-3 record and a 5.67 ERA and the warning signs were evident. Niesen had trouble spotting just about his entire repertoire and hitters took advantage.
\r\n
\r\n\"As a team we've definitely struggled, but I know I have my own things to work through. I'm working hard and we're staying together as a team and I think even that says a lot about the environment here. I believe that we all can turn it around and I need to do my part,\" said Niesen.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think everyone here is realizing that being at a higher level means that we all have to play at a higher level and that's the outlook I have. That means a lot more focus for me. I feel like I have the same stuff, but it means focusing harder and being more consistent with my pitches. I think that's what we're all starting to learn and when that kicks in, I think I'll be better off.\"
\r\n
\r\nHowever, as noted, the consistency of his pitches has been a pain point which has led to 48 hits allowed in 39.2 innings pitched and a .298 opponent's batting average. So far for Niesen, the season's biggest lesson is learning a new approach for every hitter, every inning while staying within his comfort zone.
\r\n
\r\n\"The hitters here are very aggressive and know what they are looking for at the same time. My game centers on being able to stay down in the strike zone. The coaches are always telling us not to leave the ball up and that's what I'm trying to do,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's really important that I focus on every single pitch because each pitch could be a difference maker. I can't try to beat hitters by throwing as hard I can. It's about locating and you realize as long as you can locate, you can be successful at any level.\"
\r\n
\r\nNot only does focus help him gain consistency but should also help his ability to locate pitches when he needs to. Too often this season, Niesen left balls up in the zone or over too much of the plate leading to big innings.
\r\n
\r\n\"The coaches are trying to show me that I have to pitch up, pitch down and side to side. Even though the movement on my pitches is important, I just can't throw the ball over the plate and expect movement to take care of the rest.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"When I get location and movement going that's when I'll be most efficient. I need to go out there and not get too far ahead of myself.\"
\r\n
\r\nAn even more noticeable struggle for Niesen is his ineffectiveness against right-handed hitters. Niesen owns a .250 opponent's batting average and has allowed only 12 base hits to lefties, but turn them around and righties have hit him at a .319 pace with three times as many hits. He knows to see the improvements he desires, that is a issue he must correct and it begins and ends with consistency.
\r\n
\r\n\"More than anything else, I need to get ahead with the fastball and then mix in my off-speed pitches. I don't want to be in a position where I'm throwing fastballs behind in the count and let the hitter wait on it. I think I've put myself in that position too much this year and that's why righties have got the best of me at times,\" he detailed.
\r\n
\r\nHowever no amount of struggles will keep Niesen down. With a strong belief in the quality of his pitches and his will to make the changes necessary to find success, the left-hander feels it is only amount of time until things turn in his favor. Tuesday night, Niesen finally earned his first professional win after 18 career starts and thoughts are removing that monkey off his back will lead to greater fortune through the summer.
\r\n
\r\n\"I still feel like my pitches are working for me,\" he said with confidence. \"I feel like I have the three pitches to locate and mix things up for hitters, but it's about throwing them where I want at any time.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"The best thing I can do is continue to learn every month which I think will make me better from month to month. I've had my struggles so far but as long as I continue to put the work in and make the adjustments that I need after seeing teams and lineups multiple times, I think I'll see the results I want,\" he closed
\r\n
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