"It's fun out here," said Loux. "I'm having fun. We're winning a lot of games. It's nice to be out of Arizona, and it's nice to be playing baseball. For awhile, I didn't know if I was going to get to do that. I'm happy to be playing."
Through three starts, the 22-year-old Texas A&M product has a 1-1 record with a 4.40 earned-run average. He has logged 14.1 innings, giving up 15 hits, walking four, and striking out 14. Loux has also induced just over two groundouts per flyout.
"I'm doing some things well, but there are some things that I need to be doing better," he said of his performance thus far. "So I'm not completely happy with it. But I'm taking some of the positives and trying to correct some of the negatives."
Loux attacks hitters with the standard four-pitch mix––fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. He worked primarily off his fastball during his first two years of college but started to mix in the secondary stuff more often in his junior campaign with the Aggies.
Still, Loux says he'd like to continue working to mix in all of his pitches.
"My slider was good in my last start," he said. "It's just different little things. I've changed some things mechanically. I want to slow the game down instead of overthrowing. I want to use all my pitches, too."
While Pelicans pitching coach Brad Holman has earned a reputation as a mechanical guru, Loux has enjoyed picking his coach's brain about the mental aspect of the game.
"Mechanically, we haven't worked on a ton of stuff," said the native Texan. "He's just trying to let me do my thing for awhile, and then if something needs to be corrected, we'll address it.
"With him, I'm trying to be around him as much as I can because he tells guys how to pick stuff up. I'm taking advantage of his knowledge."
The health of Loux's right arm raised plenty of questions around last summer's draft. He had a cleanup procedure to remove bone spurs from his elbow in '09, and his physical with the Diamondbacks last summer reportedly revealed potential shoulder troubles.
But so far, Loux says he is healthy, and his velocity has been just fine. The 6-foot-5 righty has thrown his fastball at 90-94 mph through his first three starts, and he has touched as high as 96 mph.
"It feels good," Loux said of his arm. "Last year was the best it has ever recovered, and this year it has started off recovering better than that. I haven't had a problem yet. I felt good yesterday and threw hard."
|Ross has 16.2 scoreless innings. b>|
The 21-year-old generates lots of ground balls––a 2.33:1 ratio through four outings––due to the excellent late life on his 88-92 mph fastball. Everything he throws features cutting action––the fastball, 81-84 mph slider, and 81-83 mph changeup.
Ross flashed an improved changeup this spring. Many scouts believe he'll ultimately wind up in the bullpen, but he has a chance to stick as a starting pitcher, particularly if his change develops into a reliable third offering.
Wieland generally throws his fastball between 87-93 mph, sitting in the 89-91 mph range with some armside run and a little sink. He, like Ross, had a tendency to drift up with his heater last year, leading to 67 hits allowed in 59 innings at High-A Bakersfield.
He began to throw his 74-78 mph curveball more often with the Blaze last season. The pitch became more consistent as a result, looking like a future plus offering with good sharpness and depth. The breaker helped him log improved strikeout numbers down the stretch in 2010, and he has 17 punchouts (and only three walks) in his first 12 frames this season.
Now, Yan showcases a seemingly effortless and carefree delivery with good deception. The 22-year-old uses a heavy mid-to-upper 80s sinking fastball and a frisbee slider to rack up the groundouts. He has given up only one earned run in eight innings with the Pelicans, walking three and striking out eight.
The ground balls have continued to come for Yan. He has induced 14 groundouts against only one flyout so far this season. While he can be erratic at times, it's difficult to argue with the numbers he has posted as a sidearmer––51.1 ip, 38 h, 14 er (2.45 ERA), 15 bb, 44 k.
Gomez's fastball velocity has ticked up (91-92 mph) out of the ‘pen, and the pitch still has excellent sink. Although he throws a hard changeup at 87-88 mph, it's effective in working almost like a second sinker––it has similar action as his fastball. Gomez throws it confidently to both left- and right-handed hitters. His upper-70s slurve also has tighter break this season.
The 23-year-old righty is still a bit erratic, and he probably always will be. But if he throws enough strikes, his stuff could carry him to the upper levels. So far, Gomez has permitted just a run on four hits over nine innings, walking three and striking out 12.
He continued to struggle in spring training, and the early results with the Pelicans aren't all that promising. In five innings, he has walked eight, hit one, and unleashed three wild pitches. His last two outings have been better, though (3 ip, 1 walk), so perhaps he has something to build on.
|Olt is off to a fast start. b>|
The supplemental first-round pick generates plus raw power with his strength and bat speed. He has worked to take some of the pre-swing movement out of his mechanics, which he hopes will make him shorter to the ball and help cut down on the strikeouts.
If Olt proves that he can make consistent contact, he could find himself in Double-A Frisco at some point this season. RoughRiders third baseman Tom Mendonca is coming off a rough season in High-A, but he is playing well early on while feeling the heat from Olt. Mendonca leads the Texas League with six round-trippers in 13 games.
Adair, who played the '08 and '09 seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization, belted his first two career home runs at Single-A Hickory last year. He has already matched the career high just over two weeks into this season.
And while Chirino entered the year with just one season of state-side experience, he is more than holding his own in the Carolina League. The 5-foot-10 Venezuela native is currently 15-for-43 (.349) with two doubles, one walk, and four strikeouts.
Chirino doesn't currently post big walk totals, but he clearly has a feel for the strike zone. He is a disciplined hitter for his age (16 walks, 21 strikeouts in 56 games last season) and should draw a few more free passes as he develops. The prospect has an advanced all-fields approach that gives him a solid hit tool.
He is also an excellent defender at second base, with beyond-his-years instincts and soft hands. Chirino may have the athleticism to handle shortstop or third base on occasion, but his arm strength is less than ideal on the left side of the infield.
Both players, who began the season as Myrtle Beach's expected corner outfield duo, are batting under .100 on the year. The two are a combined 6-for-72 (.083), and both are still searching for their first extra-base hit.
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