Lezcano on Lake Elsinore Storm pitchers

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: In part two of our interview with Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano he goes over all five of the Storm starters, closer Bryan Oland, and which pitcher he believes has a chance to become a top of the rotation starter in the big leagues.

Editor's Note: We interviewed Lezcano just prior to the promotion of Cory Luebke to Double-A San Antonio.

Last year, I was very impressed with Jeremy McBryde. I thought he threw a very good sinking fastball along with a solid slider. He started to work his change more in the second half and became a better pitcher. How has he been doing this year?

Carlos Lezcano: He throws what we call a real "heavy ball", guys just can't seem to get good swings off of it. He's done a good job for us this year. Sometimes he starts a little slow, but he finds a way to compete. One reason I like him is that I wouldn't want to hit off of him [laughs]. When you see someone like that it is someone you want to have on your side. It seems like he is throwing a bowling ball with movement.

He's had some back issues, but he's been staying healthy enough to pitch. He needs to stay healthy so he can keep on developing.

Two pitchers you did see last year were Cory Luebke and Corey Kluber, both of who struggled last year and were sent down to Fort Wayne. They both have been performing much better this year. What is the big difference?

Carlos Lezcano: Number one, Luebke's fastball command last year isn't what it is now. He had trouble throwing down in the zone and out of the stretch. He had a double tap before he went home and he's gotten rid of it. Now he is nice and loose and very aggressive. Last year, he would pitch well and then one inning would really hurt him. Now he's more confident, he knows how to prepare himself better. Its not only physically but mentally as well.

Kluber had one very good game here last year where he could have pitched in the big leagues, but was just inconsistent. His fastball command is much better, but when his command is on with the slider and changeup he has – it's a big league arm.

All of our starters have a chance to be in the big leagues.

Jeremy Hefner was the Padres Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year but has struggled some early. What are the reasons behind his struggles?

Carlos Lezcano: He's trying to use his curveball more than his slider this year. He could come in right now and dominate with what he threw last year, but that isn't what he's here for. He's here to become a big league pitcher and throwing a curve and having better fastball command is going to get him there.

He's learning how to pitch with fastball, curve and change. For him, the biggest struggle is fastball command and learning how to pitch inside. When he learns how to pitch inside, its going to open up the outer third of the plate for him.

If they can lean over the plate, a pitcher can throw something a few inches off of the plate and they are still going to hit it; so you have to throw inside to prevent that. Pelzer and Luebke have been very good this year about understanding this. Hefner is still having some trouble really getting that down.

Wynn Pelzer has pitched very well and has gotten quite a bit of attention, what are your thoughts on him?

Carlos Lezcano: To me, he has the potential to be a number one or number two starter in the big leagues. He's an athlete with a very good, I would say electric, arm. Sometimes you see some of the pitches that he is throwing out there, and it's, ‘Where did that come from?' His fastball and slider are there. He likes to compete, have fun and gets along with everyone.

We couldn't go without asking you about your closer Bryan Oland, who has been one of the best this year in the Cal League and in the organization.

Carlos Lezcano: The good thing about him is it doesn't matter what situation you put him in, he is the same. He has a consistent approach to the game, day in and day out. He has that splitty changeup and he throws a fastball in the low-90s . That changeup he has along with his slider is pretty good. The thing that really stands out about him to me, though, is just how calm he is, in any situation. Three run lead, one run lead, tie game runner on third; its all the same to him.

The mental approach you see from him is of a closer in the big leagues, not an A-ball pitcher.

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