Razor on Eugene Emeralds pitching prospects

While the majority of Dave Rajsich's tenure as pitching coach came in Arizona, he was called to the Eugene Emeralds late in the year, aiding many pitchers he saw in extended spring. Rey Garramone, Chris Perez, John Hussey, and Andrew Gribbin have all been under his tutelage while Matt Teague and Colt Hynes were among the newcomers.

Rey Garramone had an up and down year. He started out well and seemed to tire down the stretch?

Dave Rajsich: When I got out there and saw him it seemed his hands were together too long and he was drifting and not staying over the top.

He is another guy we got to take his hands over the top to help him understand, not so much to get the arm since he keeps the hands together but he has a tendency to drift and then fall and the arm drags and the ball comes up.

He is a sinkerball pitcher. He has a great sinker. When he gets a lot of his outs they are all ground balls. When he starts giving up fly balls is when he is tired or starts getting the ball up. That is because his hands are together too long. It is about getting his arm speed going and moving his hands up a littler higher to find the spot he is the most comfortable where he can throw the most strikes on a downward plane consistently.

He is good for two or three innings and then just gets the ball up. That is the biggest factor. In the fourth or fifth inning he would start leaving the ball up and the outs started coming by fly ball. Then you know he is in trouble.

He has a good curveball. It has nice, tight rotation. He just doesn't have enough confidence just yet. He thinks, ‘Can I pitch?' He just doubts his ability. He has great stuff. I keep telling him, ‘You have better stuff than you think. I know you have great stuff. You just don't know how to use it yet.'

Chris Perez had a good start but seemed to tire as well. He is known as being a bit anxious on the mound and perhaps too much so. He obviously has a good arm but how can he tap that potential?

Dave Rajsich: You have to get him to calm down and understand it is all about throwing strikes. It is not about velocity. It is about throwing strikes down in the zone and getting people out.

He gets two strikes and he would overthrow. He overthrows. When he starts to rush, the body goes forward, the arm starts to drag and the ball goes up.

When he throws the ball down, it explodes. It explodes. It is a matter of him calming down, staying under control and throwing strikes.

It is all mental with him. It is not physical. He has a tendency to want to rush and wave the red flag and here comes the bull.

Once he learns to calm down – he has a great arm. I counted appearances, innings and pitches – he was throwing as much as the starters and he was a reliever. He was throwing 40 pitches. Once he learns to throw a 13-pitch inning, pitch to contact, he will be fine.

He had a rough year. He was waiting for something negative to happen instead of thinking positive. That was the biggest factor. It is between the ears. As he gains experience he will learn to relax, ‘I have been through this before.' He is not at that stage. He has a power arm.

John Hussey lost confidence through the year and seemed to abandon his best pitch along the way. What does he need to do to return to being successful?

Dave Rajsich: I think he got intimidated and overmatched. Here is a 20-year-old kid – in Australia they play club baseball and the competition is not the same.

Once he got beat up a little bit he got a little gun shy, afraid to pitch to contact. He started nibbling and when you go 2-0, 2-0, 2-0, they are really going to get you.

He never got to the curveball because he didn't have the fastball command. He was afraid to throw it over the plate and when he did it was 2-0 or 3-1 and he got whacked right after he walked two or three. I don't care who you are – if you walk people you are going to get beat up. I think it was a big learning process for him.

His changeup has improved. His curveball is better. I think it is a matter of going through the experience of getting beat up and going after it and doing it again. He will be fine. It is a matter of getting the confidence back to go after them with his fastball.

Did Andrew Gribbin pitch in front of you?

Dave Rajsich: I saw one game and one inning. He still has a tendency to want to push the ball. We corrected his line to the plate. Before he would fly open and really drag his arm. The upper body would go right to left rather than straight back and straight forward to drive the ball to the plate. His line got better. He still pushes with the hand.

I was a little disappointed with the velocity. But the hitters didn't pick up the ball. He was throwing 82 or 83 and I know he has more than that. Once he gets more confident and stays on top – he was down in the zone – hitters were not hitting the ball. It was almost like it had late life to it and had a little hop.

He is only 17. He might be a three-year candidate.

Matt Teague was up in Portland for a while but came back down to you. Did you get a chance to see him?

Dave Rajsich: When he came back down his shoulder was tender and didn't throw.

He threw two sidelines for me. What I saw was a lot of movement – consistently down in the zone. I can see where he was effective. He has a nice sharp slider. He has a change. He has an idea what he is doing.

He is listening all the time. I would be talking to other pitchers and he would come up to me and ask questions, ‘Why do you want to go over top? Why do you want to go on this side of the rubber?'

He is learning and has an idea. He cannot throw a ball straight. The ball is moving. He looked like he had good command of the fastball down and away. Being a left-hander and looking at San Diego, if he can hit that corner down and away it will make it tough on righties. If he keeps the ball down – who knows.

He pitched better in Triple-A. He pitches to contact and they make the plays at the higher level. You get a ground ball and are waiting for a double play – that is just not going to happen.

As long as they keep throwing strikes...I told these guys, ‘As long as you throw strikes down in the zone, we will find shortstops and second basemen that will make plays for you. ‘Throw strikes and get ground balls. You will make it to a place where they will make those plays for you. Then you will throw 10 pitches an inning.

Colt Hynes was a bit funky but seemed to hide the ball well and was nearly unhittable.

Dave Rajsich: He comes out of his shirt, goes right at you, and changes speeds with his fastball. He is a little stronger version of (Kyle) Stutes.

He throws 84 to 86 but knows how to pitch. He has a nice, tight slider with a short break. Late movement on the fastball and he comes right at you. He stays at the knees.

He is, ‘Bang. Bang. Bang. Let's go. Give me the ball.' I love him. With that stuff – if he can add two more miles on his fastball he could be great. And you don't know how hard he was throwing in college. He might be there. He goes right at you. He is not afraid.

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