Grullon learning to command

SURPRISE, AZ - Geuris Grullon got a taste of success out of the AZL Rangers' bullpen in 2008, as he posted a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 innings. Lone Star Dugout has a feature interview with the 18-year-old pitcher.

When Geuris Grullon signed with the Rangers in the summer of 2006, he was mentioned in the same breath as fellow highly touted youngsters Wilmer Font and Carlos Pimentel.

Font and Pimentel separated themselves from the rest of the 2006 international signees with their excellent professional debuts in ‘07. Grullon lagged behind, posting a 6.14 ERA in 23 innings with the rookie-level AZL Rangers. More than anything, the southpaw struggled with control, walking 16 and uncorking 17 wild pitches.

The left-hander repeated the league in 2008 and showed a great deal of improvement. In 23.2 innings [most of which came out of the bullpen], Grullon had a 2.66 ERA. The hurler came away pleased with his progress.

"I feel that I'm getting better and that I'm doing a good job," Grullon said of his 2008 campaign. "I'm doing the best I can every day."

With 17 walks in those 23.2 innings, Grullon still had a high number of free passes. But he also had just five wild pitches on the year, a vast improvement from the 2007 season. Grullon believes his control improved during the season.

"I felt that last year, I had a live arm," he said. "And I feel like I still have one. But this year I've learned to command some of my pitches and stay more around the strike zone."

Though the 6-foot-5 southpaw is currently in the bullpen, his four-pitch repertoire resembles that of a starting pitcher.

"My fastball can get into the high-80s," explained Grullon. "It can sit around 88-92. My slider and curveball are in the mid- to high-70s. My changeup is 81-82."

Grullon came into the Rangers' system with just a fastball and changeup, and he has worked hard to develop the two breaking pitches over the last couple of years. While his slider is an especially promising pitch, he does most of the damage with his fastball.

The 18-year-old used his heater to compile an impressive 4.25:1 groundout-to-flyout ratio this past season. Despite pitching nearly half as many innings as his team's starters, Grullon led the AZL Rangers with five double plays induced. However, the hurler doesn't throw any two-seam or sinking fastballs.

"I throw four-seam [fastballs]," he said, "but for some reason my ball tends to move all over the place."

Looking to take a big step forward in 2009, Grullon wants to focus on two aspects over the offseason.

"Right now, I'm trying to locate my fastball away and my fastball in," Grullon said. "And I'm trying to work on my body – getting my physique in top shape."

Thanks to Michael Ortiz for translating the interview.

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