Fort Wayne TinCaps Notebook II

Fort Wayne, IN: Success can be found in many forms. The San Diego Padres Low-A affiliate in Fort Wayne can point to the pitching staff and everything that surrounds it.

  • One of the big reasons for the TinCaps success has been the pitching staff and its 3.63 team ERA. They lead the Midwest League in shutouts and the staff has confidence in its bullpen.

    "It is always nice to have great guys like Herr and Brach in the eighth and ninth inning," starting pitcher Anthony Bass said. "That sense of condidence not only in the pitching staff but the whole team – we feed off of it.

    "They are strike one, strike two – they don't mess around."

    Brad Brach is tied for the league lead in saves and he and Zach Herr pace the Midwest League in appearances with 32 and 30, respectively.

    The addition of Nick Schumacher and Colin Lynch has also been pivotal to their late inning success. Schumacher sports a 1.12 ERA and Lynch owns a 1.35 mark.

    "Schumacher has some great pitches," catcher Adam Zornes noted. "He has been a great addition to the bullpen."

    While the relief corps is deserving of the praise, the catchers are the other unseen heroes.

    The backstop position isn't necessarily measured by wins and losses but perhaps it should be. Zornes and Robert Lara have combined to play a pivotal role in the success of the rotation.

    It seems subtle but when a finger is waggled for a particular pitch and that is the offering the pitcher wants to throw, the confidence in that pitch goes up. When there is a pitcher shaking off – perpaps that causes that initial confidence to waver.

    The staff acknowledges the work of the backstops.

    "They call a great game," Bass acknowledged. "There is hardly ever a time I shake them off. They are looking at the hitter up and down and watch how they are setting up.

    "I credit a lot of our success to the catchers that call a great game."

  • There are a lot of training techniques that can be applied to hitting and Friday brought forth some of traditional and others that aren't so traditional.

    Hitting coach Tom Tornicasa worked with Allan Dykstra and Cole Figueroa on stepping into pitches – with their back foot.

    The idea is to take a half a step with their back foot before going into their normal hitting mechanics and transfer of weight. By stepping forward on the back foot, it ensures the weight distribution and load is achieved.

    Timing it so the weight onto the back foot occurs first and then the hands can come back, it creates a rhythm for the hitter to take into a game. The step forward with the back foot is eliminated but the theory is the same to keep the load and attack the ball through weight transference and an easy swing.

    "I think it helps you during the game where you can feel stuff in your at-bats and make adustments instead of adjusting day-by-day," Figueroa. "It will help you not to make the mistake for three at-bats in a row or a whole week.

    Dykstra took that approach into batting practice and smoked a ball into the upper deck in right field – approximately 450-feet away from home plate. It drew the ‘oohs' and ‘aahs' from the rest of the players with many prompting, "Don't take another one," an effort to end his batting practice. Dykstra took another swing and popped straight up.

    More convetnial was the work Tornicasa put in with Yefri Carvajal. The batting coach had Carvajal working on one-handed swings so he could see each arm work individually through the hitting zone and create the load. Tornicasa worked on keeping his shoulder in line with the rest of his body so it does not stay open or closed during the at-bat.

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