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

WILMINGTON, Del. – High-A Myrtle Beach starting pitcher Luke Jackson flashes some of the best raw stuff in the Texas Rangers' organization, but he's also got plenty to refine. Lone Star Dugout caught up with Pelicans pitching coach Brad Holman to discuss Jackson and the rest of the pitching staff in part two of this two-part interview.

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

Jason Cole: What were your impressions of Randy Henry's last outing?

Brad Holman: I think Randy has typically been a reliever in his days as a professional. Randy's transition from a reliever to a starting role has been pretty smooth, actually. It's just a matter of stretching his innings out.

We've had to acclimate him to more secondary pitch selection as far as getting away from just the slider-fastball attack mode and getting into mixing in the curveball and changeup for a back-and-forth option and getting hitters to keep from just getting geared up from pitch to pitch. So there's a little more change of speeds, slowing his pace a little bit, and getting him to kind of work through a marathon as opposed to a sprint.

Cole: When Henry was coming out of the bullpen, everything had that cutting action––the four-seamer, the cutter, and the slider. But it looks like he's also mixing in a two-seamer now as a starter, isn't he?

Holman: Yeah, he's throwing a two-seam fastball. He's also turning his changeup over a little bit and getting some armside sink with that. So now he's got pitches going two different directions. On top of the slider, he has added the curveball, which is similar in action but about five or six miles per hour slower.

He'll hop one up there when he needs to––a four-seamer––he'll run it up there at 93-95 mph and elevate, too. He's just learning how to use more weapons in the approach that he takes. As a reliever, he would just come out there and try to get the out as quick as possible.

Cole: Did it seem to you that Henry was occasionally opening up and throwing across his body during the start? Is that something that has been an issue for him at times?

Holman: No doubt. That's something that I think with all pitchers is an issue. I think Randy, also like Wilmer and others, has learned what it means to prepare in his delivery. The biggest issue with pitchers is that they tend to attack the pitch early. The problem being that they get weight forward when they land. All that weight being forward––on top of their landing leg––creates no other option except to rotate towards first base, especially as a right-hander. Obviously it's towards third base as a lefty.

But Randy has learned the same as Wilmer how to be in a good position once that front foot makes contact with the ground. That mechanism of timing has given him the ability to create direction. However, he does get away from it once in awhile, as do all pitchers. The good news, though, is that he knows how to make the adjustment and how to get back on track himself. That's kind of my goal for them––to help them to be able to make adjustments on their own.

Cole: Both Henry and Kyle Hendricks had trouble with that early in their starts the last two days. How did you feel they were able to make the adjustment?

Holman: Very well. I think Kyle is another guy that early on this season was having issues with timing and the separation of his hands and preparation. It's something that seems to be a reoccurring theme with all pitchers––the urgency to get to the pitch, the tendency to get down the slope, and not to mention the gravitational pull of the slope. All that––everything works against them.

Obviously they're trying to torque the baseball and throw it hard. For all of these guys, the ability to learn their deliveries and how they do things and why they do things and the like has been pretty common theme. I don't think there's anybody that's exempt from it.

Cole: The last guy I want to ask you about is Luke Jackson. He's got the fantastic raw stuff, but he's also had a tendency to kind of overthrow in the past, causing the fastball to float up in the zone. What have you been working on with him so far? What are your impressions on his first couple outings?

Holman: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. I think Luke has kind of been two different guys. In the first outing, he gave up quite a few of his hits to a predominantly slow-batted team. He gave up a lot of his hits on his secondary pitches. And then he comes back out against Winston-Salem, and he gave up all of his hits on fastballs––to a good fastball-hitting team. I think part of his development is going to be, first and foremost, recognition of the opposing team and what they're trying to do against him.

With him, in terms of his delivery, the one thing that has really stood out to me is the fact that he really advertises his fastball––particularly when he tries to dial it up a notch. You really see his front side get a lot higher and move a lot faster. So we're going to try to put him in an area where he pitches at a comfortable effort level. He hopefully can go above that and below that when need be––whether he's ahead or behind in the count. But to keep from advertising any of his pitches––to help disguise one from the other. He's open to it. I think he's aware of it.

I think it's just going to be an emotional taming. He is a very ramped up guy. He's going to have to learn to be a little more calm, cool and collected, so to speak, and make pitches according to disruption of the timing of the hitter as opposed to just trying to overpower the hitter.

Cole: From a pure stuff perspective, how has he been so far?

Holman: Oh, tremendous. His fastball plays mid-90s and sometimes upper-90s. He spins the breaking ball well when he hits it right, but it's just not consistent. The changeup has been a pitch that, these last couple outings, he has started to implement and use as a weapon, which is strongly encouraged.

It's just a matter of him using all those pitches––and the selection of all those pitches––by design and with a plan. I think, with Luke, he's always survived on his God-given ability, and he's going to have to learn to kind of tame that a little bit and use that stuff with a purpose and a plan. There's a lot of stuff that goes into that, so it's a process.

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