Clinton vs. Beloit Quotebook (6/25)

CLINTON, IA - The Clinton LumberKings took home an 8-5 victory over Beloit on Wednesday evening. After the game, Lone Star Dugout chatted with pitching coach Danny Clark, first baseman Ian Gac, and DH Mitch Moreland.

Fabio Castillo earned his first victory of the season on Wednesday, but the outing was far from perfect.

Through three innings, Castillo retired the side in order. The lone baserunner was picked off by catcher Jose Felix.

Castillo has had some issues with velocity this season, but he appeared to be fine on Wednesday. The 19-year-old righty was sitting around 88-92 mph while topping out at 93 and 94 a few times. His changeup and slider, both of which registered in the low-to-mid-80s, were inconsistent throughout the night.

In the fourth inning, Castillo began to noticeably tire. He lost command of his stuff and opened the inning by giving up two walks, two singles, and a sacrifice fly. Castillo, who would allow two runs in that inning, also gave up two runs in the fifth.

In all, he gave up four runs on four hits in five innings. The right-hander walked four and struck out three.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with Castillo's pitching coach, Danny Clark, after the game for a quick Q&A.

Jason Cole: What were your impressions on Fabio Castillo's start?

Danny Clark: First of all, obviously we've been building him up to be a starter. His first three innings were very impressive. Then obviously in the fourth inning, he came in and started to tire. He was up around 40 or 45 pitches. The biggest thing for Fabio is that we have just got to continue to build his pitch count up and his strength so he can get into the sixth and seventh inning. It's not an urgency for us because he is still 19 years old.

Cole: When he tires, does that cause him to fall into a bit of a mechanical issue?

Clark: It's more of his lower half. A lot of times he has some issues with his lower half that we're trying to correct. I think that is the one thing, once he gets tired and his legs go, then his mechanics will fall apart somewhat in his lower half.

Cole: I know last night Fabio's velocity was pretty good, sitting in the 88-92 mph range, but I know it has been all over the place at times this year, sometimes sitting in the mid-80s. Why do you think that is?

Clark: Partly to do with inexperience. As a starter, it's a lot different from being a reliever because you're throwing your two sides in between starts. Your conditioning is a lot more. It takes time with anybody that is 18 or 19 years old to build their strength and to build and develop a routine.

• Wednesday's game also marked the Low-A debut of 17-year-old lefty Joseph Ortiz.

Ortiz showed a bit of swagger.
Because Ortiz stands just 5-foot-7, most Rangers fans are likely to compare him to fellow diminutive left-handed reliever Danny Herrera. But the two are not quite the same.

Ortiz threw his fastball between 87-91 mph in his 1.2 innings on Wednesday. He sat more in the 89-91 mph range during his first inning. The native of Venezuela flashed an impressive slider that he ran in on right-handed hitters. Ortiz even used his slider to break the bats of the first two hitters he faced. He also flashed a couple of strong changeups.

The southpaw retired the side in order in his first inning, getting two strikeouts. But he struggled to find the plate in the second, as he issued three walks and hit a batter while recording only two outs.

Still, it had to be considered a solid debut for Ortiz, who showed he certainly has the stuff and competitive nature to succeed in the Midwest League at 17 years of age.

Cole: Joseph Ortiz had his first outing in Clinton as well. What were your thoughts on that?

Clark: It was the first time I had seen him. Obviously he wasn't in spring training with us. I had heard a lot of good things. The biggest thing that stood out to me is that he is in attack mode. Obviously being his first time out, being a young 17-year-old kid coming into this league, he had a lot of adrenaline flowing. His biggest thing, and I'm really excited, is that I think he'll have more command of the fastball in the zone than he did last night.

Cole: Ortiz retired the side in his first inning, but struggled when he came out for the seventh. What was the difference there?

Clark: It's like most pitchers. The first inning when they come out of the bullpen, they don't have time to think. Now, going into the second inning, he goes into the dugout. I looked down into the dugout and he still had his glove and hat on in between innings. I knew there was going to be some urgency there and some anxiousness in the second inning. I think in due time with every young pitcher as they get along and get four or five outings under their belt, I think everything will start going into place.

Cole: Do you know if Ortiz will be here for the long-term?

Clark: That I don't know. That's higher up than me.

Ian Gac's outstanding season with Clinton has been no secret. The slugging first baseman has made a mockery of the Midwest League's pitching despite its reputation for being a tough league for hitters.

Gac hit another tape measure shot.
Gac learned of his promotion to High-A Bakersfield on Wednesday and went out with a bang. The slugger went 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a three-run homer. The round-tripper was Gac's 19th, giving him a rather commanding lead in the Midwest League's home run race.

Lone Star Dugout spoke with Gac after the game regarding his home run and his promotion.

Cole: Take me through the at-bat where you hit the three-run homer tonight.

Ian Gac: There were men on second and third, so all I was thinking about was getting the guy in from third base. Just a little sac fly. I was just trying to get a good pitch up in the zone to drive the guy in. I was lucky enough that he left the changeup up there for me and I just caught it out front a little bit and squared it up.

Cole: As you've gotten to play some of these teams a few times and with the numbers you have put up in the Midwest League, have you noticed teams pitching you differently?

Gac: Yeah, they are definitely pitching me differently. The kind of weird thing is that almost every team I've noticed will pitch me one way one series and then go the exact opposite the next series. Then they go the exact opposite way the next series – so they go back to the way they pitched me the first time. These guys were pitching me in real hard the first time I saw them, then they went soft away, and now this time I'm playing them again – it's the fourth time I've played them – they're going back, hard inside. It also depends on the pitcher. Kane County did the same thing. They pounded me in and then started going away the next series. They are kind of going back and forth, so I've noticed some stuff.

Obviously when I was doing really well at the beginning of the year, they didn't know everything. They were just kind of feeling everything out, so I was getting a lot more pitches to hit. Earlier they weren't pitching me quite as tough – they were challenging me with fastballs. Now they're kind of mixing things up.

Cole: When were you told about your promotion to Bakersfield?

Gac: They kind of told me a little bit before the game. They were asking me about my car, so I kind of figured something was up. Then I came in and had text messages from guys in Bakersfield like, ‘are you coming here?' Then the manager called me into the office and Scott Servais was here too and they just all told me. The manager told me, ‘hey, you're going. Congrats.'

Cole: What are your thoughts on moving up?

Gac: I'm happy, for sure. This is my fourth time around in Clinton and I'd like to make it my last. It's nice to get moved up. Hopefully I'll end up in Double-A before the year is over. Clinton has been nice to me for four years, but I don't want to come back.

Cole: With the year you were having, had the Rangers told you anything before this about when they may move you up?

Gac: Not much. About a month ago the farm director was here and he said there was a move that was going to be made so just keep patient and do what you're doing. That was about the only thing he said to me. He came back to town this time and today was the next time I heard anything about it.

• Mississippi State product Mitch Moreland has been perhaps the hottest hitter in Clinton's lineup over the last week. Playing DH on Wednesday, Moreland was 2-for-3 with a double and a base on balls.

Cole: You've gotten pretty hot to start the second half. What is leading to your current hot streak?

Mitch Moreland: I don't know. You're cold sometimes and you see the ball well sometimes. I'm just staying back well and getting some good pitches to hit. It is helping, seeing the ball up a little bit and I'm getting the barrel on it.

Cole: You DHed tonight. A lot of guys seem to find it more difficult to hit when they aren't playing in the field, especially when they aren't used to DHing. Are you one of those guys?

Moreland: Not really. It's easier when you are seeing the ball better to do it than it is if you're not. If you feel good at the plate, then you feel good at the plate. It doesn't matter if you are playing a position or DHing. That's the way I see it. Some guys might have a problem with it, but I don't have much of a problem with it.

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