Fort Wayne TinCaps Notebook IV

Fort Wayne, IN: It was a light day – no infield, batting practice in a cage. The bullpen sessions, however, were in full force.

  • Five pitchers were involved in bullpen sessions on Sunday afternoon. Simon Castro and Eduardo Perez tossed the rock to Adam Zornes while Nick Schumacher, Stiven Osuna and Michael Watt hurled the ball to Robert Lara.

    Castro threw for the second time between starts and focused on the changeup and fastball command down in the zone.

    One of his focal points has been staying on top of the ball. Castro has had a tendency to drop his arm slot, creating arm side run up in the zone.

    "He looked really good," catcher Adam Zornes said. "A five-man rotation, he will throw two pens between starts. This was his long session.

    "He has really good stuff. He has really come a long way. He has three pitches with the fastball, slider and the changeup is really coming along. It is good to see that.

    Perez doesn't necessarily have the overpowering stuff, meaning location is the most important tool to put in his arsenal.

    The positive news is he can spin his breaking ball for a strike and has good command of his changeup. The fastball is essential.

    "Eduardo has been really good out of the pen," Zornes said. "He has a really good curveball and a good changeup too. He is working on a cutter and a two-seam too. He has good stuff."

    Schumacher was the most impressive man on the hill this day. He spun some dirty breaking balls that had Lara calling for him to end his day after throwing one such gem.

    The right-hander has been a stabilizer to the middle relief role, thriving on keeping runs off the board.

    "Schumacher is good," catcher Robert Lara said. "When he got sent to extended, he thought there must have been a reason I am here and went to work. He developed a cutter. It cuts just enough and that has given him added velocity. He has been lights out. He has a lot of confidence and you can tell. When he gets to the mound, he knows he is going to do well. He is dirty."

    Stiven Osuna has a dynamite changeup that he can bury in the dirt and throw over for strikes. His curveball is also a plus pitch at times.

    Fastball command, however, has been questionable at times this season. One of the differences between pitching in Low-A and the higher levels is being to move it around to different thirds of the plate. Working it inside and outside effectively while keeping it down in the zone can be the difference between a good and bad outing.

    "Osuna was working on fastball command – moving it in and out," Lara said. "He can throw his changeup wherever he wants. He did well in moving it in and out."

    Watt has a plus curveball that can buckle knees. The southpaw has to get into counts that he can use it effectively.

    "He has great stuff," Lara said. "As long as he keeps the ball down, his fastball moves more than anyone on the team."

    After his session, Watt was dejected. He wasn't happy with his performance.

    With a start on Tuesday, the mental side of the game may interfere with the execution of his pitches – or the show of emotion may help.

    "He was a little upset with his mechanics," Lara said. "I think he felt it was a little weird.

    "I don't have to tell him – he can see he has great stuff. He has a competitive nature and if he is mad about something that is ok. I would rather him be mad than nonchalant."

  • In the batting cage, hitting coach Tom Tornicasa yelled out the count and had his hitters reposition the tee to put it in the spot they wanted the ball to be with a ball on top of it.

    Given a small radius around that spot, he would toss a rock from his hand towards the ball on the tee. The hitters would say ‘Yes' or ‘No' on whether it was in the spot they wanted it.

    The goal is to decrease the hitting zone, especially in hitter's counts. If the ball Tornicasa threw was close to the ball or on a trajectory to hit it, the hitter's should be yelling ‘Yes'.

    If the ball goes wide of the mark, the hitter should be yelling, ‘No'. It is yet another tool that Tornicasa uses to help his players recognize pitches and the location of a pitch in their zone.

    If it misses the zone they want to see it – they take. If the rock is destined for the spot they are keying in on – swing and drive it.

    Truly it is the basis of the Padres' philosophy.

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