Abbott on Missions pitching prospects

Pitching coach Glenn Abbott manned the Double-A spot in 2007, helping to guide the San Antonio Missions to a Texas League championship. He saw firsthand the likes of Will Inman, Edwin Moreno, Dirk Hayhurst, Neil Jamison, Jon Ellis, and Arturo Lopez while working closely with Nick Hundley and Colt Morton.

Will Inman was a newcomer – what can you tell us about him? Twenty and pitching in Double-A is impressive.

Glenn Abbott: Exactly. His delivery is different than most. He has a lot of motion and stuff. The left arm goes up in the air, the right arm goes behind him, a lot of moving parts.

He just wasn't quite on track. We didn't mess with him. I guess they tried to change him in Milwaukee. We tried to let him be like he was. They sent us some tapes and we let him be comfortable and pitch like he was in those tapes.

He was a little disappointed. His command wasn't like what we had seen. Here is a kid coming from A-Ball to Double-A. There is a big difference. He had some adjusting to do with that. He will be fine.

Edwin Moreno also arrived late and seemed to settle in nicely. What kind of stuff does he have?

Glenn Abbott: He was a big shot in the arm for us. Abraham was our closer and right after we got Moreno, Abraham got hurt with a strained biceps.

Edwin throws in the low-90s, 93, with a split and a slider. His changeup and his split were two similar looking pitches, except he threw the changeup more for strikes than the split.

He did a very good job. He was solid. I don't think he blew a save all year. He had been starting in Mexico. He fell right into it. Even when Abraham came back he stayed our closer.

You have to give some props to Dirk Hayhurst as well. You plugged him into every role and he performed.

Glenn Abbott: Exactly. Dirk – we used him in long relief, he started once, in short relief. He closed. He pitched wherever you needed him.

Dirk was another guy that made improvements from last year. He came up with a slider he had been working on since last year. He went home last winter and came back to Spring Training with a workable slider.

He pitches with a lot of confidence and is a strike thrower. You know what you are going to get when Dirk goes out there. He was very solid. If we needed a guy to go two or three innings he could do that.

We had some doubleheaders late in the year where we needed a spot start and bam, he gave us five solid innings on 50 or 60 pitches. He was very consistent all year long.

Neil Jamison had some struggles early but bounced back. What advice did you give him?

Glenn Abbott: His velocity picked up. He pitched a little too much in the zone. He has good command. I think he got scared a little bit off the plate. Guys hit some balls good off him and then he got into trouble walking people – and he don't walk anybody. He got scared off the plate.

He came back and was very solid for us. We used him in the sixth and seventh inning – his command is the key for him. He has to command pitches in the zone. Sometimes his fastball gets a little flat and so does his slider. He has to keep a tilted angle on the slider.

Jon Ellis walked too many – is cutting those down the key to his future success?

Glenn Abbott: I think so. He is worried about walking people. He gets to ‘Oh no, here we go again.'

He was pitching very well – our bullpen was very good. If we had a lead going into the sixth inning the game was over with Ellis, Abraham and Jamison.

He came on very nicely. He didn't have quite the same confidence. There was still a little bit of doubt when he got behind people. He just has to locate the ball down. He came on very well at the end of the year. He was pretty consistent. He had a stretch in the middle that caused his numbers to look out of whack.

Ellis was a guy that you used with inherited runners. How did you decide he was the guy over everyone else?

Glenn Abbott: He is a sinkerball pitcher and could get us the groundball. He was the best sinkerball pitcher we had out there. He filled that role very nicely.

You have to get a feel for your pitchers and how they pitch in certain roles. Ellis did a nice job – he was the guy we called upon when we had guys on base. When you need the groundball to get a double play to get you out – we needed to keep the ball in the infield. I like Jon Ellis.

He went to the Arizona Fall League. I hope he doesn't get hit with any line drives this year. He has a good sinker. I told him all year long, ‘If you only knew how good you are. Your stuff is really good.' That is true of a lot of guys. They don't believe and trust their stuff. It is true with a lot of guys.

Arturo Lopez didn't have the year many expected. What does he need to do to return to the level of success?

Glenn Abbott: He has to get fastball command in the zone. He throws strikes but he gets a little too much plate. He needs more confidence in his abilities. He has to believe they can't hit him. Trust his stuff a little more.

When he got hit – he makes too many mistakes. You can't make the same pitches you do in A-Ball. You need to make better quality pitches.

That is why there is one Double-A team.

What did you think about the way Nick Hundley handled the pitching staff?

Glenn Abbott: Nick Hundley made a lot of improvement. He was a pleasure to be around. He had a smile on his face everyday.

When he wasn't catching, he was in the bullpen. He was always on time. He just enjoyed what he did. Nick and I talked a lot. He made a lot of improvement understanding – I talked to him like I talked to the pitchers. He made a lot of adjustments. He learned to take charge even more; he learned to be more of a leader on the field. It showed with the work he did with the pitchers.

His arm also seemed to improve. That has to quicken the pace of the pitching staff. They believe if they can get it to Nick in time he can throw anyone out.

Glenn Abbott: You are exactly right. We had two good catchers – with Colt Morton. You felt comfortable with either of them behind the plate because both did a nice job calling games. It worked very well.

These guys got along well and they talked. There was no animosity. There was no competition. They just wanted to do the best they could do when they were called upon. You have to have that kind of attitude.

It is a team thing. Everyone has to go out and pick up each other. The pitchers picked up the hitters and the hitters picked up the pitchers. It is a two-way street. You are not going to win with one thing.

You know what was amazing about these guys – they never got too cocky. These guys wanted to win. It didn't go to their head. They never got complacent. They never got ahead of themselves. That is another attribute of a winner. It was a really fun year. It is the kind of year you don't like to quit.

You have to have pitching and defense. We caught well and pitched well. If we bided our time and stayed close we had a chance to win.

Our team got better at the half. We were too left-handed heavy and it made a difference when we got Huffman and Antonelli.

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