Webber on Storm pitchers

Lake Elsinore Storm pitching coach Steve Webber had some of the best pitchers in the system throughout the year. Matt Buschmann, Manny Ayala, Wade LeBlanc, Richie Daigle, Ernesto Frieri, Steve Garrison and Nathan Culp were among the hurlers to blossom under Webber.

Matt Buschmann got off to a slow start but there was no one better down the stretch. How were you able to get him back on target?

Steve Webber: I think he was more or less searching for his delivery that he had in college. He found it and was able to regain that – that is what started the turnaround.

Manny Ayala was fantastic from the start. What enabled him to have so much success?

Steve Webber: He is very consistent in his approach. That carries over to the games. He was able to throw his fastball for a strike. The equalizer for him is his changeup. That is the thing that was consistent throughout his time in the California League. That allowed him the ability to have the success he had.

Wade LeBlanc got the job done for you and has two quality changeups. What does he need to do to keep having success?

Steve Webber: His changeup is a swing-and-miss type pitch – they don't make contact with it that much. Once he settles in and commands his fastball a little bit better, I think he is going to take off.

You mentioned Richie Daigle as having a fantastic spring at the beginning of the year. Does that make his season a slight disappointment?

Steve Webber: When you look at the fact that he is a conversion and has had only one year of pitching experience out of the bullpen in '06 and now he is in the starting rotation I didn't really know what to expect.

I think overall he made a lot of progress. His numbers might not show it but I saw command of his fastball get better. His slider got better, his split got better. The main thing we wanted to do was to give him experience as a starter – get as many innings to speed up his development because he is relatively inexperienced. Overall, I was pleased with his progress. If you look at his numbers I don't think you would think that but I was pleased.

You only had Ernesto Frieri for a handful of games. What impressed you about the young man?

Steve Webber: The thing that impressed me was the improvement over last year. He really has come leaps and bounds in the last year as far as making progress. I am not sure but I think his velocity has jumped a few miles an hour.

There is some deception in his delivery and he has an explosive fastball. I think the thing that is going to tell the tale with him is what he is going to do to come up with a secondary pitch to keep hitters honest and off his fastball.

Steve Garrison was a newcomer after being traded. What can you tell us about the young man?

Steve Webber: He has four pitches and throws them all for strikes. His two breaking pitches – his curveball and slider – are different. His curve is more like a breaking pitch and his slider is probably his put-away pitch. He has excellent command is only 20 years old. There is an upside.

He has a good feel for pitching and can command his fastball to both sides of the plate, change speeds, and really that is a lot of what is involved in pitching.

I think he has a bright future.

Nathan Culp came up and got hit around a little bit. Was he trying to do too much at times?

Steve Webber: He struggled a little bit early. I think the reason for that was just getting settling in at a different environment. Once he settled in and pounded the strike zone consistently, he got a lot of ground balls. I think his changeup improved and his cutter is a very good pitch for him – a put-away pitch. He gets a lot of ground balls. He ranked in the top of California League.

He has good movement on his fastball – it tails and sinks at times. His changeup is improving and he has his cutter. He is very effective against left-handed hitters.

To me, after his slow start, I think down the stretch – he pitched the game that got us in the playoffs and won a big game in Lancaster and won a game against San Jose. In those three games, he didn't give up much of anything. A lot of ground balls, a lot of weakly hit balls. He did a great job of mixing up his pitches. The thing that stands out is he did a great job in pressure situations.


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