Wally Whitehurst on his players

Wally Whitehurst touches on Mike Epping and Kody Valverde, one player that he recruited in New Orleans, Matt Buschmann, Wade LeBlanc, and Nathan Culp, among others.

Is it nice to see guys like Mike Epping and Kody Valverde who both spent time at the University of New Orleans?

Wally Whitehurst: Yes, I actually recruited Kody when I was there before I left. It was unfortunate that I was not there when Epping came through. Both of those guys are solid young men and great kids. It is fun to see them as high school players, having a college career behind them and here with us – it is exciting.

Talk a little bit about Ben Krosschell. Last year, coming out of the season and Instructional League, Ben was on his way.

Wally Whitehurst: He was. Spongy probably did more in the year and half he was here than any of us expected him to. He really came on at the end of last year. His last four starts were outstanding, probably one of the better pitchers in the league during that span. Went down to the Instructional League to work on the changeup – worked hard at it, was our Most Valuable Pitcher in the Instructional League and coming into spring training we thought for sure he would be ‘this and that'. But things happen. I would like to know the amount of time I spent with Spongy – he and I have been together, this is our third year now. He understands the way I deal with people and I understand what he is going through somewhat. It is frustrating for me and I know it is on him. I am hoping at the end of the year, taking some time off, he gets back to the right frame of mind and I don't know how to tell him how to get through what he is going through. If he can do it, he has a heck of a future with us. There is a lot of people in this organization who like him and he knows it. I hope he gets it.

He is a great kid with a lightning quick arm and a major league slider. His changeup is coming along so it gives us hope.

Three guys who may have been a bit more advanced for this level – Nathan Culp, Wade LeBlanc and Matt Buschmann. Talk a little about each one of those guys.

Wally Whitehurst: Nate has done a very good job for us. He is a left-handed pitcher out of the University of Missouri. Very bright kid. Very quiet. He throws four pitches for strikes. Each one of them throws more than one pitch for a strike, which is an added bonus.

All three work hard. All three are very knowledgeable about pitching. They understand the importance of the changeup. They understand the importance of working ahead in the count. They all have bright futures. I think once they go home and get some rest their velocity will increase. Anytime you have three pitches you can throw for strikes you are well ahead of the game at this point in time. All three have a bright future.

When a guy moves up in the system, and all three of those guys did, do you point to them as an example of what to do to get it done. While each is clearly different, they are grasping the concepts of the system and throwing strikes.

Wally Whitehurst: Absolutely. Hopefully, the guys are all paying attention during the game. If they are watching a guy go out there and throw strike one, throws an off-speed pitch for a strike and doesn't have five, six, seven, eight pitch at bats, hopefully they understand that maybe I need to start doing this a little bit more instead of trying to be so fine here and trying to overthrow here. Watching those guys go about their business I think can help everybody. It makes our job a lot easier. You sit back and they have 65 pitches tonight and hopefully that takes them through the fifth inning and we turn it over to the next guy.

I think with those three guys, they don't try and do more than they are capable of doing. That right there makes it so much easier for us.

When did it change that a curveball and slider are now called a breaking ball? It used to be they were called individually and now everything is clumped together?

Wally Whitehurst: When I pitched you had one or the other. Now, these guys are coming in with six pitches and you start weeding some of them out and it becomes a breaking pitch. Things change. It used to be a forkball and now it is the straight change. It used to be a slider but now we are going back to the curveball. It is amazing how it cycles.


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