Foli Up To The Challenge

The 2007 season has been a year of mixed results for Dan Foli, but he is currently getting his first real taste of baseball at the Triple-A level. Foli signed a minor league contract on August 1, and the Clipper is looking to overcome his early season struggles.

Foli, son of former major league shortstop Tim Foli, started the season with Potomac before spending stints with two Double-A squads, Harrisburg and Corpus Christi. He was released by Houston, Corpus Christi's big league affiliate, and found himself back with the Nationals organization last week.

The right-hander went through a similar series of transitions last year after starting off in Low-A Savannah. His 2006 season reached its peak when he pitched in one game for Triple-A New Orleans, which was being coached by his father at the time. (Tim Foli is now a field coordinator in the Nationals organization.) When asked about his 2007 season, Foli said he would have liked to have pitched better, but he is clearly not discouraged by his performance.

"I feel like I've been throwing the ball well," Foli told CapitolDugout.com on Sunday. "I just haven't been getting results yet, but we're working on it. I'm up here with [Coach McCatty] and hopefully he can get me squared away."

In his 11 games with Harrisburg, Foli was 0-0 with an 8.39 ERA, and that led to his release. Foli said that because of his lack of production, he was surprised to hear that he would be pitching for Columbus when he signed last week.

"Yeah I was because I wasn't getting results," Foli said. "A lot of times in the minor leagues, they go on statistics. I've been throwing the ball well, but I don't have good numbers. I was definitely surprised."

During his time in Double-A, Foli often struggled with the command of his pitches. He said that along with his lack of experience at the Triple-A level, his inability to hit the strike zone would be his greatest weakness right now.

"I struggled with walking people," Foli said of his performances earlier this season. "As you saw last night, I got two quick outs, then I just have a mental lapse and end up walking a guy. Walks have hurt me this year. If I can cut down the walks and command the fastball better, then I can definitely have better results."

Thus far with Columbus, Foli has appeared to be up for the challenge of facing stiffer competition. In his latest appearance against Toledo Saturday, Foli did not allow a hit in one inning of work in a 9-3 win. When asked about what he brings to the table for the Clippers, the 6'1" 190-pound Foli said that his durability on the mound is one of his greatest assets.

"The greatest strength I guess you can say is that I can throw everyday pretty much," Foli said. "I can bounce back quicker. For whatever reason, I don't know, but I really don't get sore. I guess that gives me added value because I can throw everyday if need be."

Most relievers like to keep it simple with their collection of pitches, and this is the case with Foli. The former Cubs prospect said that although he has played around with adding a forkball, he wants to stay with pitches that he can throw more consistently.

"I've got to command the ones I've got right now," Foli said of developing any more pitches. "I throw a fastball, changeup and a slurve. It's like a slider/curveball/slurve, whatever you want to call it—just as long as I get it over."

Foli is only 26 years old, and he knows he still has a lot to learn in order to develop into a consistent reliever for Columbus. He said he hopes to benefit from the advice he can get from the veteran players on the Clippers' staff.

"We're all close. We all help each other out. If we see certain things or certain tendencies, then we try to help each other out. The main goal is for everybody to get to the big leagues. They've helped me out, and I'm sure they'll continue to help me out."

With less than a month left on the Clippers' schedule, it'll be interesting to see how Foli responds to Triple-A hitters. Foli admitted that he plans on using his time with Columbus as a measuring stick for his development.

"It's going to help me evaluate myself to see if I'm able to pitch," Foli said. "If I can pitch up here and have success up here, then I know I'm doing the right things." 

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