Baldwin In The Right Situation

The Nationals selected left-hander, Zach Baldwin in the 31st round of the 2006 draft and he went on to put together a strong debut season with Vermont. Because he was a late round pick, his level of recognition remains very low, but Baldwin feels he is in the right situation to succeed with Washington.

After compiling a solid 3.81 ERA in 54 innings of work with the Vermont Lake Monsters in his first taste of pro ball in 2006, Zach Baldwin remains one of the best unknown prospects in the Washington farm system. Does he possess the power stuff top prospects are usually made of? No, but what he does have is a long track record, outstanding command and a demeanor made for success.

"I thought the first season went very good overall," Baldwin told CapitolDugout.com. "I wish we could have won some more in Vermont. But, overall I thought it was a great experience. I learned that I can pitch at this level and be successful."

As previously noted, Baldwin is a pitcher that relies on moxie and command, and can't simply sit back and hope he blow a fastball by a hitter at any time. So how exactly does he get it done? It's pretty simple.

"My approach is very simple," he announced. "I'm looking to throw quality strikes in quality locations with all of my pitches. I think I'm successful because I came from a winning program in college where I was taught to win. Win with your best stuff and win when the stuff isn't 100% there. I throw five pitches; I throw a fastball, curveball, slider, split-changeup and a cut fastball. And, when its really going good the sinker mixes in with the fastball. I think I have to have a variety of pitches because I don't have the 93 MPH fastball to go to."

Coming into spring training, it appeared that the highly advanced, Baldwin would be headed for one of the long season affiliates. But, near the end of spring training, he suffered a setback that will be keeping him in extended spring training for at least a little longer than everyone expected.

"I really enjoyed spring training," Baldwin explained. "Since it was my first I enjoyed meeting all the new faces you hear about. I learned that I have a lot of work to do to "get there" but I also learned that I can pitch at an upper level and have success. I got hurt nine days ago, spraining my left ankle, so right now I'm focused on getting healthy and if they assign me to a full season team then so be it. Being in extended makes you hungry. I know in my career I've never been so anxious to get back out and pitch."

The first line of a scouting report on Zach Baldwin would probably mention him being a "crafty southpaw" or something along those lines. Then, some people would likely go on to make the assumption that he also may be quirky or odd like many left-handers have been stereotyped to be. Before making that assumption, you'd be interested to know that he is not your typical portsider.

"Well, I'm probably a better golfer than I am a baseball player," Baldwin said with a laugh. "Another thing is that I do most things right-handed of right-footed. I hit righty as well. I shoot a basketball left-handed, write and throw left-handed. That's about it. I guess I'm weird in that way."

But, beyond the stuff, the command, or anything else, a player's success has a lot to do with his comfort in his situation. Zach Baldwin is just that, comfortable. He wasn't the most highly sought after amateur player around in 2006, but after being drafted by Washington, he was entering a situation that he knew was the right one for his career.

"I knew in high school I had a good chance to maybe make it [as a pro] with the right set up," the lefty revealed. "I don't know if I had a turning point, but after my junior year of college I was 11-0 with a 1.90 ERA and didn't get drafted. I was thinking what more do I have to do. But, it also motivated me so much going into my senior year. I knew I wasn't a top round type of guy, but I knew with the right scout and the right team I could open some eyes."

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