Q&A with Rick Waits - Part III

Here is Part Three of InsidePitchMagazine.com's Q&A session with Mets Pitching Coordinator Rick Waits. In this block, Waits outlines what will help Guillaume Leduc progress, why Kyle Allen is a young arm to watch, the work being done with Junior Guerra, and much more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Guillaume Leduc is a pitcher who was drafted high but has yet to gain any good traction. What will get him going?

Rick Waits: I think he just needs to pitch, frankly. The guys that come from either Canada or Australia [Leduc being Canadian] sometimes don't have a lot of pitching experience amateur or otherwise. In Leduc's case, he came in and needed to get stronger over his total body. He needed to get stronger before we could put a lot of innings in his game. But he's a got a great changeup, good movement on his fastball but his breaking ball had to come around. I think he's come along great and I think this past year he held up physically when the year before he had some nagging injuries. I think in 2009 we'll see Leduc be stronger and more consistent with more innings under his belt with the need to experience more pitching. I think we'll see a more complete pitcher next year if he can continue to improve his breaking ball.

Inside Pitch: Eric Beaulac was another rookie from this year's class who throws hard and got to Savannah quickly. How do you see the rest of his game coming together?

Waits: Actually, he's one guy I never saw pitch the whole year. When he came to Instructs he got walking pneumonia and he wasn't able to throw at all. I'll have to go off what other guys say, but he pitched most of his time in Kingsport and Savannah but I've been told he's got the fastball and the breaking ball. The main thing he needs to work on is throwing his breaking ball for strikes. The other thing is how to work his breaking ball and fastball together, sequence his pitches, to get deeper into the game. The other coaches are telling me he's got a changeup but it's something that he needs to work on going into next season.

Inside Pitch: Stephen Clyne is a pitcher who may have taken a step back this year, got hurt early and struggled with consistency in St. Lucie, but he's a hard thrower who can work the bottom of the zone. Is it a matter of just putting it together for him?

Waits: I think what happened to him was that he got hurt in Spring Training and that can be tough for a pitcher in his first Spring Training. He learned in his first off-season how to get ready for his first spring and that got interrupted half way through. My guess is that it took four to six weeks for him to get back into good form to compete and he truly was a guy who just threw to hard. He wanted to make up for all that lost time, and he came out tried to do way too much. He was trying to throw harder and strike everyone out, but he went through a learning process of locating his pitches better. He did not locate well in the first half, but he finally got a good groove as he is a sinker/slider type guy and both pitches are big league quality. The only thing he needs to work on his commanding the outside part of the zone to righties with all his pitches.

Inside Pitch: Junior Guerra is a hard thrower who is gaining more momentum with more innings. Similar to Leduc, is it a matter of just getting him more innings? Is it a matter of a consistent second pitch?

Waits: He's got a very strong arm and he's learning to get in better shape. When we first picked him up, we started a whole program of getting him in shape. It's not to say it's just being overweight, but he we needed to improve his flexibility and getting him stronger in the legs. One thing with him is that he loves to throw his fastball, but there is more to pitching than his fastball. He needs to mix up a second and third pitch and he's starting to understand that. He's starting to understand the need to control the running game better and then focusing on staying in proper shape. Honestly though, he's really been a great surprise to us this year because we didn't really know what we had, but as the season went on he continued to pitch better and better. He was really effective in Savannah and pitched well there. Just like any young or inexperienced guy, you still have to get a good fastball down in the zone which is the number one thing we're working on with him in Hawaii.

Inside Pitch: Kyle Allen was taken right out of high school, but comes in with the good fastball and good changeup. What are your thoughts on a young kid who comes in displays this sort of talent?

Waits: If there is anybody who doesn't know this kid, then he is a sleeper. Now if you know him, you wouldn't look at him as a sleeper because this is one of the most polished high school kids to come out of the draft that I've seen in a long time. What I mean by that is that he has good delivery, good fastball command and confidence with that fastball. He's a fastball pitcher with a good breaking and a real good changeup which is probably his best pitch and you don't see that coming out of high school.

Some of the things he had to deal with is the emotional part of the game because he's such a competitor that sometimes he goes over the top and it causes him to leave the ball up in the zone a little bit. Sometimes he just tries to hard and that is something he really worked with and got so much better at throughout the year. I didn't see him pitch any games during the season because I was in Triple-A at the time, but I was with him in the Instructional League and again, this kid has a great makeup and has the pitches to take him a long way.

Inside Pitch: Eric Brown moved back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen. His game relies on movement and location. What's the work with him been like this year? How do you get him back on track to where he was at the end of 2007?

Waits: I think the thing for Brown was overall strength. He needs to improve that year to year and he's doing that now as he's getting stronger. He's a four-pitcher pitcher, but his best pitch is still his fastball. Sometimes, I think he tries to go with his secondary pitches too often which he understands. Actually, when he was put in the bullpen, he threw the ball better at that time. But, I still think he's a starter but he's shown us that he can pitch out of the bullpen. I think understanding location of his fastball is number one. When you're a sinkerball pitcher, you've got to pitch down in the zone. When he does that, his secondary pitches are more effective and he's more of a complete pitcher who can go deeper into games.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Guillaume Leduc is a pitcher who was drafted high but has yet to gain any good traction. What will get him going?
\r\n
\r\nRick Waits: I think he just needs to pitch, frankly. The guys that come from either Canada or Australia [Leduc being Canadian] sometimes don't have a lot of pitching experience amateur or otherwise. In Leduc's case, he came in and needed to get stronger over his total body. He needed to get stronger before we could put a lot of innings in his game. But he's a got a great changeup, good movement on his fastball but his breaking ball had to come around. I think he's come along great and I think this past year he held up physically when the year before he had some nagging injuries. I think in 2009 we'll see Leduc be stronger and more consistent with more innings under his belt with the need to experience more pitching. I think we'll see a more complete pitcher next year if he can continue to improve his breaking ball.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Eric Beaulac was another rookie from this year's class who throws hard and got to Savannah quickly. How do you see the rest of his game coming together?
\r\n
\r\nWaits: Actually, he's one guy I never saw pitch the whole year. When he came to Instructs he got walking pneumonia and he wasn't able to throw at all. I'll have to go off what other guys say, but he pitched most of his time in Kingsport and Savannah but I've been told he's got the fastball and the breaking ball. The main thing he needs to work on is throwing his breaking ball for strikes. The other thing is how to work his breaking ball and fastball together, sequence his pitches, to get deeper into the game. The other coaches are telling me he's got a changeup but it's something that he needs to work on going into next season.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Stephen Clyne is a pitcher who may have taken a step back this year, got hurt early and struggled with consistency in St. Lucie, but he's a hard thrower who can work the bottom of the zone. Is it a matter of just putting it together for him?
\r\n
\r\nWaits: I think what happened to him was that he got hurt in Spring Training and that can be tough for a pitcher in his first Spring Training. He learned in his first off-season how to get ready for his first spring and that got interrupted half way through. My guess is that it took four to six weeks for him to get back into good form to compete and he truly was a guy who just threw to hard. He wanted to make up for all that lost time, and he came out tried to do way too much. He was trying to throw harder and strike everyone out, but he went through a learning process of locating his pitches better. He did not locate well in the first half, but he finally got a good groove as he is a sinker/slider type guy and both pitches are big league quality. The only thing he needs to work on his commanding the outside part of the zone to righties with all his pitches.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Junior Guerra is a hard thrower who is gaining more momentum with more innings. Similar to Leduc, is it a matter of just getting him more innings? Is it a matter of a consistent second pitch?
\r\n
\r\nWaits: He's got a very strong arm and he's learning to get in better shape. When we first picked him up, we started a whole program of getting him in shape. It's not to say it's just being overweight, but he we needed to improve his flexibility and getting him stronger in the legs. One thing with him is that he loves to throw his fastball, but there is more to pitching than his fastball. He needs to mix up a second and third pitch and he's starting to understand that. He's starting to understand the need to control the running game better and then focusing on staying in proper shape. Honestly though, he's really been a great surprise to us this year because we didn't really know what we had, but as the season went on he continued to pitch better and better. He was really effective in Savannah and pitched well there. Just like any young or inexperienced guy, you still have to get a good fastball down in the zone which is the number one thing we're working on with him in Hawaii.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Kyle Allen was taken right out of high school, but comes in with the good fastball and good changeup. What are your thoughts on a young kid who comes in displays this sort of talent?
\r\n
\r\nWaits: If there is anybody who doesn't know this kid, then he is a sleeper. Now if you know him, you wouldn't look at him as a sleeper because this is one of the most polished high school kids to come out of the draft that I've seen in a long time. What I mean by that is that he has good delivery, good fastball command and confidence with that fastball. He's a fastball pitcher with a good breaking and a real good changeup which is probably his best pitch and you don't see that coming out of high school.
\r\n
\r\nSome of the things he had to deal with is the emotional part of the game because he's such a competitor that sometimes he goes over the top and it causes him to leave the ball up in the zone a little bit. Sometimes he just tries to hard and that is something he really worked with and got so much better at throughout the year. I didn't see him pitch any games during the season because I was in Triple-A at the time, but I was with him in the Instructional League and again, this kid has a great makeup and has the pitches to take him a long way.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Eric Brown moved back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen. His game relies on movement and location. What's the work with him been like this year? How do you get him back on track to where he was at the end of 2007?
\r\n
\r\nWaits: I think the thing for Brown was overall strength. He needs to improve that year to year and he's doing that now as he's getting stronger. He's a four-pitcher pitcher, but his best pitch is still his fastball. Sometimes, I think he tries to go with his secondary pitches too often which he understands. Actually, when he was put in the bullpen, he threw the ball better at that time. But, I still think he's a starter but he's shown us that he can pitch out of the bullpen. I think understanding location of his fastball is number one. When you're a sinkerball pitcher, you've got to pitch down in the zone. When he does that, his secondary pitches are more effective and he's more of a complete pitcher who can go deeper into games.
\r\n
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