In terms of pitching, sometimes a minor adjustment can make all the difference. For West Virginia Power starting pitcher Zachary Fuesser, it was as simple as a timing issue that was altering his control.
"I was going too slow," Fuesser said. "I picked up my pace a little bit and just let all the stuff that I've been working on come in to play. It helped big time."
Left-hander Fuesser walked nine batters and only recorded five strikeouts in his first two starts combined. But after the mechanics tweak, he responded with one walk and 12 strikeouts in his next two starts.
"It helped me just not think about it and let my instincts take over," he said. "It's weird that something that simple was the reason."
The York, South Carolina native was drafted in the 34th round in the 2009 amateur entry draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He spent last season with the Power and posted a 3.74 ERA in 32 appearances.
This change of pace may be the spark of great things to come for Fuesser.
But why is something so simple showing this much of an effect?
"It just helps me not think as much as I usually had about everything," Fuesser said. "Just going out there and just playing and blocking out everything else."
Perhaps the most impressive start of his young professional career came in his start on April 25. Fuesser pitched six strong innings, struck out eight and didn't walk a single batter.
This start was exactly what the 21-year old needed to boost morale.
"That start was really good. I felt really good about it," Fuesser said. "It's a big boost of confidence. I just hope I'm able to build on it and continue to improve."
Fuesser participated in a bullpen session on April 27 with WV Power pitching coach William Glen. Glen seemed to stop his starting pitching every few pitches to point out a mistake.
"It was just the same old stuff that I needed to fix before," Fuesser said. "Stuff that I find myself getting away from sometimes and I need to get back to it."
One pitch that was used very frequently in the bullpen session was Fuesser's changeup. He was locating the pitch very well and admits it has become his most effective pitch.
"My go-to pitch has been my changeup," he said. "It used to be my curveball, but recently I've really been able to locate my changeup. It seems to keep the batters guessing."
Whether it is locating his changeup or becoming more comfortable with his pace on the mound, one thing is obvious – Zachary Fuesser is playing with more confidence than he ever has before.
"I feel really great. My confidence level is through the roof, which is good," he said. "That's really what you need. It's something that I didn't have in my earlier starts. But I just need to keep it going."
His current stat line is impressive. His five starts have all been no decisions, so he is still looking for his first victory of the season. His ERA went up to 3.43 after his most recent start on April 30, when he allowed six runs (four earned) in four innings. His 19 strikeouts have him tied for first on the Power staff. His WHIP is something that was a bit suspect early in the year, but much like everything else, is beginning to come together.
"I need to just keep working throughout the days in between starts," Fuesser said. "Whether in bullpen sessions, or working with a coach, I just need to keep trying to get better and it will all come together."