Schwinden Meets His Goals

Right-hander Chris Schwinden flew under the radar some in Savannah, but put together one of the strongest seasons on the Sand Gnats talented staff. Consistency and command are two of Schwinden's best attributes which he used to get to St. Lucie by the end of year, completing his preseason goals.

[FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT]

"Other than sitting out for a month, I thought I did pretty good. I thought I started out well and then I got hurt, but when I came back healthy I think I did the best I could," said right-hander Chris Schwinden. "I had a little bout of elbow tendinitis and the elbow was really tight. It didn't really hurt too much, it was just tight, but I got through it and ended up having a good year."

Schwinden, the Sand Gnats Opening Day starter, began the 2009 season with a 2-0 record and just one earned run allowed in his first 11 innings before he was sidelined. However, he did not miss a beat upon his return and provided, arguably, the most consistent work of any Savannah starter.

The biggest test for Schwinden, in his second season, was adapting to the rigors of a full-season. Of particular importance was learning to adjust and stay ahead of hitters which was very necessary in the South Atlantic League where teams often oppose each other three times in a month.

"Going from a short season to a long season, you really have to get a better feel for how hitters think and how they use their approach at the plate. I learned a lot about that and learned a lot from our pitching coach about ideas and how to mix it up," he explained.

"Every time you face a lineup again, you really have to show them something they haven't seen yet and mix up some things. That's what (Savannah pitching coach) Marc Valdes told me and what I learned from him," he continued.

"The hitters are going to know what I throw, so it's about executing the right pitch at the right time. I took that to heart and learned from that and I think it worked pretty well."

Schwinden's success was largely founded on his ability to pound the strike zone. This season, his walk to innings pitched ratio led the organization, and he has walked just 30 batters in 189 2/3 innings pitched in his career. That all begins with his fastball command.

"I think I have pretty good command because of my fastball. I build off that command and I think it's one of my stronger points," he said. "I like to go after hitters. I don't want to fool around with them, I just want to get them out with the fewest pitches I can. I think that's very key for me.

The fastball is a pivotal pitch for Schwinden as he continues to work on his breaking ball—a pitch that was often flat and unchallenging to hitters. It is a tool that Valdes focused on with Schwinden and one that the right-hander knows will play a big part in his ability to keep moving upwards in the organization. He acknowledged it will be at the top of his list to work on when he begins to prepare for the 2010 season

"I still don't have that great of breaking stuff I can throw it in a consistent zone," he explained. "My breaking ball was good at times but I think I need to work on it more because I'm going to need that pitch as I move up whether it be St. Lucie or anywhere else. That's what's going to get to me the next level and get my game to the next level. "

Despite the work to be done, Schwinden did get to the next level as he made two starts with St. Lucie in which he went 1-0 and allowed five earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. That effort backs up his tenure in Savannah where he went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA in 115 1/3 innings, ending the year with a cumulative 92/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Though he made just two starts in High-A, he feels self-assured in meeting his preseason goals.

"I think getting to St. Lucie was a big personal accomplishment and was a big step for my goals this year," he detailed. "Hopefully I will start out there next year or if I really push myself in the off-season maybe I can get to Double-A, you never know…"

"But I do think it was a big step and it was great experience even for two starts. I really think I needed that after all the hard work I put into the season."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n[FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT]
\r\n
\r\n\"Other than sitting out for a month, I thought I did pretty good. I thought I started out well and then I got hurt, but when I came back healthy I think I did the best I could,\" said right-hander Chris Schwinden. \"I had a little bout of elbow tendinitis and the elbow was really tight. It didn't really hurt too much, it was just tight, but I got through it and ended up having a good year.\"
\r\n
\r\nSchwinden, the Sand Gnats Opening Day starter, began the 2009 season with a 2-0 record and just one earned run allowed in his first 11 innings before he was sidelined. However, he did not miss a beat upon his return and provided, arguably, the most consistent work of any Savannah starter.
\r\n
\r\n The biggest test for Schwinden, in his second season, was adapting to the rigors of a full-season. Of particular importance was learning to adjust and stay ahead of hitters which was very necessary in the South Atlantic League where teams often oppose each other three times in a month.
\r\n
\r\n\"Going from a short season to a long season, you really have to get a better feel for how hitters think and how they use their approach at the plate. I learned a lot about that and learned a lot from our pitching coach about ideas and how to mix it up,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"Every time you face a lineup again, you really have to show them something they haven't seen yet and mix up some things. That's what (Savannah pitching coach) Marc Valdes told me and what I learned from him,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\n\"The hitters are going to know what I throw, so it's about executing the right pitch at the right time. I took that to heart and learned from that and I think it worked pretty well.\"
\r\n
\r\nSchwinden's success was largely founded on his ability to pound the strike zone. This season, his walk to innings pitched ratio led the organization, and he has walked just 30 batters in 189 2/3 innings pitched in his career. That all begins with his fastball command.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I have pretty good command because of my fastball. I build off that command and I think it's one of my stronger points,\" he said. \"I like to go after hitters. I don't want to fool around with them, I just want to get them out with the fewest pitches I can. I think that's very key for me.
\r\n
\r\nThe fastball is a pivotal pitch for Schwinden as he continues to work on his breaking ball—a pitch that was often flat and unchallenging to hitters. It is a tool that Valdes focused on with Schwinden and one that the right-hander knows will play a big part in his ability to keep moving upwards in the organization. He acknowledged it will be at the top of his list to work on when he begins to prepare for the 2010 season
\r\n
\r\n\"I still don't have that great of breaking stuff I can throw it in a consistent zone,\" he explained. \"My breaking ball was good at times but I think I need to work on it more because I'm going to need that pitch as I move up whether it be St. Lucie or anywhere else. That's what's going to get to me the next level and get my game to the next level. \"
\r\n
\r\nDespite the work to be done, Schwinden did get to the next level as he made two starts with St. Lucie in which he went 1-0 and allowed five earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. That effort backs up his tenure in Savannah where he went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA in 115 1/3 innings, ending the year with a cumulative 92/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Though he made just two starts in High-A, he feels self-assured in meeting his preseason goals.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think getting to St. Lucie was a big personal accomplishment and was a big step for my goals this year,\" he detailed. \"Hopefully I will start out there next year or if I really push myself in the off-season maybe I can get to Double-A, you never know…\"
\r\n
\r\n\"But I do think it was a big step and it was great experience even for two starts. I really think I needed that after all the hard work I put into the season.\"
\r\n
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