Merritt Succeeding in New Role

BINGHAMTON, NY - Left-hander Roy Merritt pitched to varying success during his first two seasons, but is growing and maturing as the closer for the B-Mets. He is once again working with pitching coach Hector Berrios and both he and Merritt explained to Inside Pitch the strides being taken by the reliever.

B-Mets pitcher Roy Merritt has been a nice surprise for the organization that drafted the lefty pitcher in the 29th round of the 2007 draft. Only 23, the 2009 season is already Merritt's third season on the farm and after two seasons where he split time between Brooklyn, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and St. Lucie, Merritt's approach has not changed.

"My approach has always been to go out there, battle and throw strikes and let my fastball run in the zone, so I can get groundball pitches for double-plays," Merritt said.

Outside of his time in St. Lucie he has a very impressive career line, with an ERA in the low twos and over a strikeout per inning.

"He is a kid that dropped his arm angle last year, and it took a little while (for him) to get used to it in Extended Spring," pitching coach Hector Berrios explained.

"Once he got used to it he took off in Brooklyn, went off to Hawaii and ended in Winter Ball with Mako (manager Mako Oliveras) pitching in the playoffs out there. He has been a key cog in a lot of the pitching staffs he has been in this past year,"

This year, Merritt's role has changed. For the 2009 season the B-Mets will rely on Merritt to be their closer, a spot that Carlos Muniz and Eddie Kunz had previously thrived in. Merritt was viewed as a left-handed specialist, absolutely dominating left-handed batters, but early success this year as a closer has people believing he can handle the more complete role.

"I am closing now compared to last year where I was coming in more often in the 6th through the 8th. You have got to be a bulldog, you have got to come in with the game on the line and shut it down no matter what," said Merritt.

"Right now the organization wanted him there. He is doing a great job and he seems like another guy who will be a Pedro Feliciano type at the Major League level. Right now that is the right fit for him and he has done a great job to this point," Berrios explained.

This is Merritt's second consecutive season working with pitching coach Hector Berrios, and the two have been able to develop a relationship. Last season in Brooklyn, Merritt flourished under the coach's eye going 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA, all to go along with 55 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched and a WHIP under 1.00.

"It is good for me because he knows me already. I was with him all season last year so he knows my tendencies and he can sense when something is wrong, or vice-versa and I am doing something right," Merritt stated.

"One of the things I always saw about him is that he fluctuates with his fastball from 84-89 MPH. He gets a lot of swings and misses because a lot of the hitters are getting the same pitch but at different velocities so it is like changing speeds with one pitch," said Berrios.

That is one thing, and he has also been able to incorporate his slider and his change-up to go along with the command of his fastball. Those three things combined are what make him so difficult to hit," he continued.

Merritt seems confident in his new role, and he is anxious to prove himself in a position that propelled the careers of Muniz and Kunz. So far for the 2009 season Merritt is 9 for 11 in converting upon save opportunities.

"There is no biggest change. It is just making sure I am headed in the right direction as far as getting better with everything from being quicker to the plate when I need to, to having a better pickoff move, to throwing more strikes, and making sure they are quality strikes," Merritt said.

"I would still like to see better command of all three pitches and being able to be a little quicker to the plate. Just more experience so he knows that when he gets there that he is able to handle just about anything that is thrown at him," Berrios added.

"I would like him to create consistency, continue to gets left-handers out consistently and everything on top of that is a bonus."

While Merritt may not be considered a closer anytime in the near future, his success as a reliever has the left-hander becoming recognized around the Eastern League.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nB-Mets pitcher Roy Merritt has been a nice surprise for the organization that drafted the lefty pitcher in the 29th round of the 2007 draft. Only 23, the 2009 season is already Merritt's third season on the farm and after two seasons where he split time between Brooklyn, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and St. Lucie, Merritt's approach has not changed.
\r\n
\r\n\"My approach has always been to go out there, battle and throw strikes and let my fastball run in the zone, so I can get groundball pitches for double-plays,\" Merritt said.
\r\n
\r\nOutside of his time in St. Lucie he has a very impressive career line, with an ERA in the low twos and over a strikeout per inning.
\r\n
\r\n\"He is a kid that dropped his arm angle last year, and it took a little while (for him) to get used to it in Extended Spring,\" pitching coach Hector Berrios explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"Once he got used to it he took off in Brooklyn, went off to Hawaii and ended in Winter Ball with Mako (manager Mako Oliveras) pitching in the playoffs out there. He has been a key cog in a lot of the pitching staffs he has been in this past year,\"
\r\n
\r\nThis year, Merritt's role has changed. For the 2009 season the B-Mets will rely on Merritt to be their closer, a spot that Carlos Muniz and Eddie Kunz had previously thrived in. Merritt was viewed as a left-handed specialist, absolutely dominating left-handed batters, but early success this year as a closer has people believing he can handle the more complete role.
\r\n
\r\n\"I am closing now compared to last year where I was coming in more often in the 6th through the 8th. You have got to be a bulldog, you have got to come in with the game on the line and shut it down no matter what,\" said Merritt.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now the organization wanted him there. He is doing a great job and he seems like another guy who will be a Pedro Feliciano type at the Major League level. Right now that is the right fit for him and he has done a great job to this point,\" Berrios explained.
\r\n
\r\nThis is Merritt's second consecutive season working with pitching coach Hector Berrios, and the two have been able to develop a relationship. Last season in Brooklyn, Merritt flourished under the coach's eye going 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA, all to go along with 55 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched and a WHIP under 1.00.
\r\n
\r\n\"It is good for me because he knows me already. I was with him all season last year so he knows my tendencies and he can sense when something is wrong, or vice-versa and I am doing something right,\" Merritt stated.
\r\n
\r\n\"One of the things I always saw about him is that he fluctuates with his fastball from 84-89 MPH. He gets a lot of swings and misses because a lot of the hitters are getting the same pitch but at different velocities so it is like changing speeds with one pitch,\" said Berrios.
\r\n
\r\nThat is one thing, and he has also been able to incorporate his slider and his change-up to go along with the command of his fastball. Those three things combined are what make him so difficult to hit,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nMerritt seems confident in his new role, and he is anxious to prove himself in a position that propelled the careers of Muniz and Kunz. So far for the 2009 season Merritt is 9 for 11 in converting upon save opportunities.
\r\n
\r\n\"There is no biggest change. It is just making sure I am headed in the right direction as far as getting better with everything from being quicker to the plate when I need to, to having a better pickoff move, to throwing more strikes, and making sure they are quality strikes,\" Merritt said.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would still like to see better command of all three pitches and being able to be a little quicker to the plate. Just more experience so he knows that when he gets there that he is able to handle just about anything that is thrown at him,\" Berrios added.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would like him to create consistency, continue to gets left-handers out consistently and everything on top of that is a bonus.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile Merritt may not be considered a closer anytime in the near future, his success as a reliever has the left-hander becoming recognized around the Eastern League.
\r\n
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