Changes help Holland succeed with Indians

Former 25th round pick Derek Holland has been impressive in his professional debut, as the left-hander currently sports a 3.38 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 56 innings for the Spokane Indians. Lone Star Dugout speaks with Holland about his JUCO career and his season with the Spokane Indians.

In the midst of Spokane's group of top-flight pitching prospects, left-hander Derek Holland, a former 25th round pick, is standing out.

Signed as a draft-and-follow candidate just prior to the 2007 draft, the Rangers originally selected Holland in 2006 out of Wallace State Community College in Alabama.

Holland – who hails from Newark, Ohio – ended up at Wallace State after being noticed at a showcase.

"I was at a Baseball Factory showcase," said Holland. "I pitched in a game and a scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays knew coach Putman of Wallace State in Alabama. He referred him to me. He told me he was looking for a lefty and he would guarantee a full ride, so I got a full ride offered to me."

The Rangers selected Holland in the 25th round after a solid freshman season in 2006. The club decided to evaluate his sophomore season before offering him a contract. Holland says the Rangers didn't get in the way while he was still in college.

"[The Rangers] stayed in touch with me, but they told me not to think about what they were doing," he said. "They told me to go out and be myself and to do the things I've been doing the whole time. They didn't really interfere. They just kept in touch to make sure I was doing okay and staying healthy."

Holland was eventually offered a contract after an outstanding sophomore season in which he posted a 1.82 ERA in 74 1/3 innings. The southpaw says he was happy with his performance.

"I felt really good about how I performed," said Holland of his college season. "I just went out, threw the ball, and did what I was told. I felt good and the numbers looked good for me."

Now with the Spokane Indians, the 20-year-old Holland has continued to post phenomenal numbers. In 56 innings with the short season club, he has a 3.38 earned run average. Holland has surrendered 46 hits, walked 20, and struck out 72 – good for second in the Northwest League.

The 6-foot-2 hurler credits his success to a few adjustments made by the Spokane coaching staff.

"They changed a little bit of my delivery, like how my windup is," he said. "It got me in a better direction than I was. They also fixed my slider so I wouldn't get hurt from it. The way I was throwing my slider, they said it looked very painful coming out of my hand. I couldn't really feel it. They changed that and my mechanics. It has helped me out big time."

Armed with a solid three-pitch repertoire, Holland's numbers seem far from being smoke and mirrors.

"My fastball will usually be in the nineties," said Holland of his stuff. "I've topped out at 93-94, in that range. I also throw a slider and a changeup. My slider is about 79-81. The changeup is about the same speed, maybe a little bit slower."

Currently hoping to make the playoffs with the Indians, Holland's season is far from over whether Spokane reaches the postseason or not. The Rangers will be sending him to fall instructional league in Surprise at the end of September.

Until then, Holland has begun to work on fine-tuning a few other aspects of his game.

"I'm just working on location and trying to get a better pickoff move," he said. "They have worked on my slide step pickoff. I'm basically working on pitches and location."

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