Rajsich on young pitching talent

Dave Rajsich is the guy that many young arms lean on and go back to for advice even when they reach the higher levels. High potential pitchers Pablo Menchaca, Matt Bush, Simon Castro, Euclides Viloria, Alexis Lara and Tyler Mead all thank Razor for his work with them this season. He, in turn, shares his thoughts on these potential impact talents.

How much will the lost year hurt Pablo Menchaca – a guy you are very fond of?

Dave Rajsich: I don't think it hurts him that much, as long as its not surgery. They felt it was a stretched ligament type of situation.

He had pitched so well prior to going to Fort Wayne – and then he went to Eugene and that is when his elbow was bothering him. He had pitched so well that it shouldn't have hurt him. He is going to go through the process and repeat the level.

You saw Matt Bush for a few games – what did you see out of the converted shortstop?

Dave Rajsich: Bush was absolutely outstanding. I was shocked – pleasantly surprised. To see his command at the knees was mind boggling. It looked like he had been pitching – like he never lost anything. For him to step on the mound for the first time in three years and come out throwing strikes the way he did was impressive.

It was smooth and easy out of his hand. Bush was throwing 97 miles per hour and it is easy. That is what was so beautiful. ‘You have to be kidding me.' And at the knees with command. I was excited.

He threw one slider and I said, ‘What was that?' He said it was a slider and I said, ‘No, no, no. No sliders. We will work on the fastball and changeup.'

He has a curveball, which is 83 or 84, and we will just forget that. We will show you the slider and just get fastball, changeup.

Simon Castro has the fastball but seemed to struggle with some command. What adjustments were you making with him through the year?

Dave Rajsich: We did a lot of things. We took his hands over the top so we could get him to balance on the backside a little more and let his arm uncoil – he has nice long arm action so it lets the ball come out in front. It really helped since he has a tendency to want to rush and get out in front.

From the stretch, we made him a lot more deliberate and took him down to a 1.8 or 1.9 (delivery to home), where he is way too slow out of the stretch, to get him to learn how to load and let that arm uncoil. The next step is to start speeding him up so he is comfortable and the delivery is repeating.

About halfway through the year he was outstanding and probably the last three weeks or month he started getting into the old habits of rushing and getting out in front. It is just a matter of him staying over the back side and letting it come up.

His slider really improved. His changeup is what he struggled with. We are still continuing to work on the changeup.

It seems like the popular things these days is to bring their hands over the head to get that balance you seek so their arm can be in line with their body and the forward momentum.

Dave Rajsich: The thing is is it sets the posture for the whole body. You look at all the old-time pitchers and everyone used to go up over their head and a good solid turn. They started this Roger McDowell look over the glove thing. But you don't create any arm speed. Your hands are together too long and these young pitchers – that is where you get into all these arm troubles.

When you throw over the top you stretch the arm and the triceps from that higher position you can create arm speed. When your hands are close together, you don't create any arm speed and you have a tendency to drag. What happens with these young arms – and they don't realize that free and easy over the top, well, there was a reason for all that. When you take their arms over the top it takes their upper body back over their back leg instead of over front and then they can load and explode. The ball comes down in the zone a lot easier. They can get to down in front a lot easier.

How is it that Euclides Viloria was able to get so many strikeouts? And how can he stay away from the big inning?

Dave Rajsich: The thing is he is so young that he runs out of gas very quickly. He is absolutely lights out for the first three innings. And he will strikeout seven or eight. All of a sudden when he gets at about 60 pitches he starts to fly open and his head starts to lose the line and starts to fall away and he loses his command. That is where he gets into trouble. Then he walks two or three guys in a row.

His first three innings is very impressive. The key was we took away his curveball and showed him the changeup was more important. We made him throw more changeups to right and left-handed hitters and he found out how good it was. He fell in love with it. He was throwing 15-25 changeups – tremendous for a young arm. That fastball at 86 or 87 just slices at people.

He has a little bit of bounce – he is a little cocky, as a 17-year-old is. He just loses his line so fast. In the fourth inning he hits the wall. He has to learn to stay under control and take away the radar gun, since he always wants to know how hard he is throwing – eliminate the gun and he will be fine. He is fine anyway.

He was second in all the minors for strikeouts per nine innings. That is freaking impressive for a 17-year-old kid.

Alexis Lara quietly had a very good year. What impressed you about the young man?

Dave Rajsich: Lara has three pitches that he throws. He short-arms a little bit. He is very explosive, very jerky. The ball comes out in front and when he throws the ball on a downward plane he is pretty good.

He is aggressive in the zone. He is not afraid to challenge you in the zone. Three pitches – fastball, slider, changeup. I like his changeup more than his slider.

Early in the year he wanted to go fastball, slider. I convinced Clint Naylor to not let him throw his slider.

He would throw the changeup – and it really sinks. He has great arm speed with it and is quick to the plate, holds runners, and is ahead of the game for that level.

Tyler Mead started off hot but cooled down as the year went on. Are we looking at the same tired kid, much like last year?

Dave Rajsich: I think that heat really zaps him. If you look at him, the fatigue factor just crushes him. I talk to the trainers and strength and conditioning guys – he just doesn't have that stamina. I think coming from the Northwest it affects him more than others. You can really see it. You sit and talk to him and his concentration is just not there. I wonder where the next step is.

He has to learn to get through it. We have adjusted on the mound – he has trying going over top as well. We are back to hands in the middle. The thing that concerns me is his velocity has dropped from the start of the year to the end – and the same thing has happened two years straight.

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