When Dinelson Lamet made his stateside debut as a 22-year-old, it was obvious he had impressive raw stuff. But, as a late-arrival with only occasional feel for his slider, his margin for error was slim.
Two years later, he's developed into a certain future big leaguer, whose slider and emerging change-up can both be reliable pitches at the highest level.
Working with a fastball that can touch 98, a slider with late two-plane movement and a change that has good arm-side movement, the 24-year-old Dominican has the demeanor of an ace on the mound.
"He's got electric stuff," said manager Rod Barajas. "When he's on like the other night, there's not too many teams in the big leagues that are going to be able to handle his stuff."
We talked with Lamet the day after his record-setting 13 strikeout performance for the Chihuahuas.
Video from Lamet's bullpen session today:
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MadFriars: What did you take away from being in big league camp this spring?
Dinelson Lamet: It was a good experience there for me, with my teammates and learning about my mechanics with the team and the coaches. I need to control the timing of my hand separation, and the change up is the other focus area.
When you have a night like Thursday, when the slider was enough to get everyone out, how do you still stay focused on developing and using the change-up?
Dinelson Lamet: I get ready from the first pitch of my bullpen on a day I start. When I go in the game, it’s to compete. So if there are hitters who can’t catch up to the fastball, I’ll keep attacking with that pitch. At the end of the day, I’m here to compete.
Do you ever stop and think about how far you’ve come in the last two years?
Dinelson Lamet: I’m very grateful for what I’ve done and the support from people throughout the organization. But each day is a new day and I’m continuing to focus on improving every day. Even the last game is in the past already, so I can’t control that. I have to get ready for the next one, preparing physically and mentally.
The current pitching staff includes a few guys you’ve thrown with a lot, and a few veterans who are new to the organization. How do you feed off of each other?
Dinelson Lamet: It’s a mutual relationship. They can learn from me and I learn from then. I have confidence in the them and we can work together. Whether it’s that I can practice my English, or asking questions about pitches, I know they’re going to be genuine in their responses.
How fine do you try to be with location on your fastball?
Dinelson Lamet: No, no, no. I focus on repeating my mechanics. If I keep my mechanics, the pitch will go where it’s supposed to go. If I’m focused on where the pitch goes, I’m not staying focused on my mechanics. When I stay in control of my body, I can control the pitch.
Is the change something you’re still working on mostly in the bullpen, or are you comfortable with it in all game situations?
Dinelson Lamet: Obviously, I work on it in the bullpen, both physically and mentally. But when I bring it into the game, if it’s not working for me, I’ll take a breath, and refocus and stick with what I have to do to get the batter out.
You’ve worked with a bunch of different pitching coaches over the last two years. How do you integrate all of the information and approaches you’ve had around you?
Dinelson Lamet: First, I think that every coach has something different that they might work on, but all of that work is to do the same thing; to execute quality pitches. So my focus is, I’ll take something from each coach and I’ll try it and try it, and if it works, I’ll integrate it into my game. And if it doesn’t, then I’ll have a conversation with the coach and see if we can try something else. At the end of the day, the pitching coach just wants you to execute pitches, and if you’re doing that, there’s not much else.