Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Brad Holman (Part 2)

WILMINGTON, Del. – The Myrtle Beach Pelicans' pitching staff currently leads the High-A Carolina League with a cumulative 2.82 earned-run average and six shutouts. Lone Star Dugout caught up with Pelicans pitching coach Brad Holman to discuss some of the team's top prospects in part two of this two-part feature.

Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Brad Holman (Part 1)

Jason Cole: Randy Henry has been great out of the bullpen for you guys. There has been some talk of him potentially moving into a starting role in the past. Do you think that could come up at some point this year if a spot opens?

Brad Holman: Definitely. It was talked about in spring training. I think we have a couple other guys who could also fit that role in Joe Van Meter and Randol Rojas. But Randy Henry is not off the radar as far as the starting option is concerned.

I think more of his style suits the back end of the bullpen. That's just my opinion. He is capable of throwing a curveball, and he is capable of throwing a changeup. He just doesn't get to those pitches as often in the role he's in right now. But I think that's a possibility.

Cole: When Henry pitched on Friday night, he was living with his cutter, and his fastball has some natural cutting action as well. Can you talk about the difference that makes for him at the back of the bullpen?

Holman: Yeah, I think the nice thing about Randy is that he has that ability to cut the ball. Obviously his slider is a little bit bigger, but he can also do that to both sides of the plate. He doesn't have to just restrict himself to the far side of the plate. But that is definitely his bread and butter. It's definitely comfortable for him when he's pitching away from a righty or in on a lefty, for that matter. But he can also sink it. He can turn a changeup over and get it going in the other direction.

But the nicest thing about him is that when you throw him into the back end of a game, you know what you're going to get. He's going to throw strikes, the ball isn't going to be straight, and generally it doesn't get centered. I know the other night, he did leave a fastball in a location and obviously the guy hit it out of the ballpark. But that's not characteristic of Randy, for sure.

Cole: Chad Bell has continued to pitch well since his promotion to Double-A. You've worked with him quite a bit over the last few years between Hickory and Myrtle Beach. Can you talk about all the mechanical adjustments Bell has undergone and where he's at now?

Holman: He was a guy the last couple years––it started in Hickory––where he has always been a swing guy. He has always been able to do the long relief thing and then transition into the starting rotation. He has taken the ball and done whatever we've asked him to do. He's a workhorse. He's just a good person. He does a lot of things outside the box. If I need something and ask him, he's always anxious to do it.

But also, we moved his arm slot a little lower. He had a tendency to get really high with his arm, and it had gotten rigid. He cuts the ball off sometimes. So to get him to let the ball go, we moved his arm down to develop a little bit more free-flowing hand speed. And that has been advantageous not just from a standpoint of his hand moving faster, but also it has given him the capability of sinking the baseball and giving him a ground ball option. It has created a little bit more sweeping action with his breaking ball, but he's also got a changeup that sinks, as well. That slot, I think, has just allowed him to maintain the freedom that he tended to get away from in the past.

Cole: Roman Mendez pitched here Friday night. It seems like there have been some ups and downs this year, but he pitched well on Friday. Can you talk about his season thus far?

Holman: Yeah, he has obviously got an electric arm. We have really been keying on repeatability––learning his delivery, learning the timing of the delivery, and how to maintain control of what he does and actually pitch. I think, in the past, he has relied more on that stuff as opposed to actually having a plan––adding and subtracting and using both sides of the plate.

Lately, he has really been keying on commanding the fastball, working a downhill angle with his fastball, and the changeup. I mean, he's got a split-finger that we're not even letting him use right now as a result of trying to get him to learn how to pitch with his fastball. But when he shows that he's improved, then we'll add that pitch back in there and it'll be a force, I'm sure.

Cole: Mendez was flashing that splitter a bit in spring training. Is that when he began throwing the pitch?

Holman: He actually threw it when he was with the Red Sox. The story I've been told is that his first outing in the Rangers' organization, he really abused it. He threw like 60 percent splits. And that's a little ridiculous for a guy who throws mid-90s.

Cole: In Mendez's last outing, he threw maybe two or three sliders and a lot of changeups. Was that kind of a plan going in––to work on the changeup?

Holman: That, and he has been getting some underneath-the-forearm tightness. Not in the elbow or anything, but just from the slider though. Trying to get him to maintain direction on the slider has been the biggest challenge. He does well with his fastball, he does well with his changeup, and he tends to fly off his arm when he throws his slider. When he does, he gets that dragging of the hand and it puts some pressure on his arm that we kind of want to get away from.

He didn't have any issues last outing––he did throw a couple. But, for the most part, getting direction with that pitch and getting his hand to work over the ball––as opposed to around the ball––is going to alleviate that. So, again, it's a work in progress.

Cole: How do you feel his changeup is coming along? On Friday, it was really effective for the first couple innings, then he seemed to lose the feel for it a bit.

Holman: I think it's a quality pitch for him right now. Not just from the standpoint of the pitch itself, but also from his ability to command the pitch. He used to run underneath the ball quite a bit with his fastball and with his changeup. And he still falls into that trap once in awhile, but he knows how to make adjustments.

I think it's a usable pitch for him––I think even in front of his slider. I don't think even he knows that yet. I think it's a matter of, like we did the other night, putting him in some situations where we kind of force the usage of it and get him to build confidence.

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