Chris Tillman: Changing Up

Chris Tillman, at just 20 years old, is in his second full season and second organization, but that doesn't seem to have affected his pitching. Tillman with a quick learning curve, talks about his approach to the game and learning from new pitching coach Mike Griffin.

Chris Tillman, who came over from the Seattle Mariners in a 5-player deal for Erik Bedard, has done everything he could to make a good first impression and is starting to settle into the organization.

"I'm happy, glad to be here now that I have my feet under me, I'm excited," Tillman said about being in the Orioles' system.

When Tillman takes the mound he prefers to get ahead of his opponents with a mix of a four and two-seem fastballs that range from 88 to 94 m.p.h. As Tillman said his curveball is a good secondary pitch, which he throws in the mid to high 70's, along with his changeup, which is a work in progress.

The work, however, is something that is no problem with Tillman. Bowie pitching coach Mike Griffin loves working with the young pitcher.

"[Tillman is] very well adapted to instruction," Griffin said. "[He] takes instruction very well and applies instruction very well. That's been the most impressive thing for me from a 20-year-old, and that's a credit to him, at 20."

Griffin also talks about what he has worked on with Tillman so far.

"At 20 years old, you're learning how to no. 1 repeat your delivery, no. 2 learn how to use your pitches, and no. 3 learn when to use your pitches, especially the changeup," Griffin said. "I'd say the last 3 to 4 outings he's made a lot of progress in that area, so that's good to see, and why, because he's able to adapt, to work on something, adjust to something, and then put it to use in the game, and that's what, for me, is the biggest, biggest, asset he has."

Griffin is not the only one who has seen his improvements with the changeup, left-handed Eastern League batters have seen that as well. A good indication of a pitchers improvement with a changeup are how opposite handed batters fare against a them, and lefties are only hitting .221 off of Tillman and have struck out 29 times.

At just 20 years old, Tillman is in the top ten in the double-A Eastern League in strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. In his first loss of the season, June 5, he claimed to have his best stuff, which was apparent with his 10 strikeouts in just five innings.

"I've had shutout games when I didn't have the good stuff, kind of got lucky, but I've had the best stuff I've had this year," Tillman admitted. "I'm happy with what I had [June 5th]." Tillman, who appears to could be quickly moving up the ranks in the organization knows what is left to work on.

"Cut down on the mental mistakes. Tonight I beat myself big time. I threw two 0-2 pitches down the middle, which can't happen."

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