Holland finds arm slot

Left-handed pitcher Derek Holland earned a trip to fall instructional league after a solid professional debut with the Spokane Indians in 2007. Lone Star Dugout was able to speak with the 21-year-old about his time at instructs and his adjustments on the mound.

The Rangers' 25th round pick in the 2006 draft, Derek Holland made his professional debut this past summer after signing just prior to the '07 draft. The Ohio native attended Wallace State Community College and became one of the organization's final draft-and-follow signees this year.

The southpaw proved successful in his professional debut, as he posted a 3.32 ERA in 16 appearances – 14 starts – with the short-season Spokane Indians. He accumulated 67 innings with the club and fanned 83 while limiting opposing hitters to a .224 batting average.

Holland's debut performance was impressive enough to land him a spot on the Rangers' 35-man fall instructional league roster. The month-long league began in late-September and ran through late-October.

"I felt really good about how I performed," said Holland, whose seven appearances at instructs ranged between one and three innings. "I'm kind of big on my walks – I wish I wouldn't have given up any of them actually. But I was still satisfied with my numbers. Everything was good.

"I got a lot of different things changed and a lot of better results. I'm very impressed with everything."

The 21-year-old worked on just about everything imaginable during his time in Surprise.

"It was more of a rhythm thing," replied Holland when asked what the Rangers changed. "We worked on pitches. I got a new style for my bullpens – it's more of a routine kind of thing. They also taught me some more mental and physical things."

One focus of Holland's while he was with Spokane was his slider. Already armed with a strong low-90's fastball, the Rangers made an adjustment that has helped turn the lefty's breaking ball into a second above-average offering.

"They changed my arm slot," he said. "When I threw my slider before, the best example I can think of is that it looked like throwing a discus. My arm was straight across, straight out. Now it's more of a three-quarter delivery. My arm slot is the same as my fastball, so it looks more like my fastball."

Currently back at home in Ohio, Holland has set lofty goals for his offseason conditioning program.

"I'm actually working out with my trainer, Clint Cox," said Holland. "He's helping me out with everything. I'm trying to gain about 15 to 20 pounds. That's my goal, but I don't know how that's going to happen. I'm just trying to better myself for the long run and get myself prepared for spring training and next season."

As the 6-foot-2 hurler looks ahead to his first full season of professional baseball, he expects to take a step up the organizational ladder in 2008.

"Honestly I'm thinking I will be starting in Clinton," he said. "I hope that's where I'll be, but I don't really know. It's all kind of a last minute thing."

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