Early results promising for Beavan

Showing improved stuff and excellent control, right-hander Blake Beavan is off to a terrific start with Double-A Frisco. Beavan has a 2.50 ERA in three games, and he began Sunday's contest with 6.1 perfect innings. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 21-year-old after the game.

Right-hander Blake Beavan pitched perhaps the best game of his professional career on Sunday afternoon, tossing seven outstanding innings against the Arkansas Travelers.

The 21-year-old prospect allowed just one run on three hits in those seven innings, walking zero and striking out four. He retired the first 19 batters of the game, giving him 6.1 perfect innings to start the contest.

As mentioned in the recent story about Beavan's April 13 start, the Metroplex native has seen his fastball velocity rise a tick. He has been working anywhere between 88-94 mph, generally sitting between 91-92 and touching 93 and 94 a handful of times per game.

Beavan has also been throwing his slider harder, as it is coming in between 80-84 mph. The pitch was generally 76-80 mph last season, and this year's version is not only harder, but it is a bit sharper with tighter break.

The slider still isn't much of a swing-and-miss pitch, but it is helping him miss barrels and induce weak contact more often. In the following interview, Beavan explains that he'd like his slider to get more tilt, and that would certainly help improve his strikeout rates.

In his first three starts with Double-A Frisco this season, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound hurler has surrendered just five runs on 10 hits over 18 innings [2.50 ERA, .161 BAA] while walking one and striking out 10.

Even with the harder stuff, Beavan has been able to maintain his excellent control. He has lived by mixing his pitches and working his fastball to both corners in all three starts. The difference is that, with better stuff, Beavan will be harder to hit than last season, when he permitted 113 hits in 89.2 innings with the RoughRiders.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with the pitcher after his excellent start on Sunday.

Jason Cole: Your first three starts in Frisco have all been pretty strong. What are your general thoughts on how the season has started for you?

Blake Beavan: It is starting okay. The first start––I couldn't ask for anything else. The second start––I'm still happy with it. It was a couple bad pitches. But today was really good. Not just performance-wise, but I thought it was good to end the losing streak and get us back on track. Hopefully we can get a couple more wins and get back in the hunt. But for the most part, I'm happy with what I'm doing right now. I'm just working on a lot of stuff.

Cole: Today's outing in specific––all things considered, I think it could be classified as one of the best of your pro career. What were your thoughts on today's outing?

Beavan: I just made pitches when I needed to. I had a lot of good defense behind me. We scored five runs today, and that was really nice. That helped reassure me that I had backup behind me, and the defense made a lot of good plays. It was just one of those days where everything was working. Everything I threw, for the most part, was good. I couldn't ask for anything else, really.

Cole: One of the things about having an eight-team league like the Texas League is that you'll face a lot of the teams multiple times. You faced Arkansas for the second time in six days. What was it like facing them again, and did you make any adjustments this time?

Beavan: Yeah. The first time I faced them, Jeremy Moore and Brian Walker hit the home runs. I just pitched closer to Walker this time. He's been swinging the bat real well. I was just kind of cautious. Not really pitching around him, but I was just trying to make my pitches where I wanted to. If I missed, I was going to miss either way in or way out.

I basically took the same thought process into this game as I did last time I faced them. I made more quality pitches and got a lot more ground balls. I think just the whole day today, with the offense scoring five runs and the defense making some plays––I think everything around me just pumped me up and led us to a win today.

Cole: You were perfect through the first 6.1 innings today. Was it creeping into your mind at all?

Beavan: Yeah. After every inning, I thought about it, but I didn't really care about giving up a hit. I was just trying to keep the team in the game and trying not to give up a run. When you get past the third or fourth inning, you're always thinking, ‘Okay, there could be a jamshot over the infield or someone is about to break it open with a double right here in the gap.' I wasn't disappointed on the hit when I gave it up, by any means. It's almost like you expect it to happen but you hope it doesn't.

Cole: All year, but particularly the last few starts, your velocity has been up a tick from last year. Why do you think your velocity is beginning to creep up?

Beavan: I think, for the most part, I'm just starting to get used to all the throwing we do. A lot of people don't realize the amount of throwing you do compared to high school. It's totally different. This offseason I worked hard and lifted a lot of weights. I tried to slim down to create some more torque and whip, and I think that has helped a lot too.

Cole: A lot has been talked about your change in mechanics from high school to pro ball. I don't think we've ever actually talked about that, so just in general, what were the changes made?

Beavan: For the most part, just not recoiling. I was keeping my front side closed longer and trying to stay on top of the ball more––not dropping my arm down as much. I've always had control and I've always been able to hit my spots for the most part, but the main thing for me was fixing my arm path and staying on top of the ball. I wanted to fix the little mechanical stuff that could save my arm for another couple years instead of blowing it out.

Cole: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but is part of the improved velocity getting used to the mechanics and getting better with them?

Beavan: Yeah. I'm really starting to get out in front on my fastball and get full extension. I think that's what is creating more velocity. Just working on everything else and finally getting the hang of everything with Jeff Andrews helping me out and everyone else that has helped me along the way, going through the minors. I think it is finally starting to stick with me, and I'm just trying to do that––the bullpens and the practice, it's showing in games.

Cole: When I saw you last year, your slider was more in the 76-80 mph range, and when I saw you in Spring Training and last week, it was in the 80-84 range, often up around 82-84. Is there anything you adjusted to start throwing it harder?

Beavan: No, I'm mainly just throwing it more like my fastball.

Cole: Do you feel it's improving at that higher velocity?

Beavan: Yeah, I think it is. I'm just keeping my hand more on top of the ball instead of getting around it and making it more loopy. I'm trying to get more tilt to it.

Cole: At the start, you mentioned you had been working on a lot of things. What are some of those things you've been focusing on?

Beavan: The main thing is just not walking people. Walking people is what leads to bad innings or leads to giving up extra-base hits for runs. The main thing is throwing strikes––limit the walks, limit the 0-2 hits, limit the walks with two outs.

Just doing everything and preparing for the game in bullpen and practice. When situations like those come up in the game, I don't want to give in or lose concentration. I want to rise above that and make my pitches when I need to get out of that inning and let the hitters get out and get some runs.

Cole: I want to go back to the start against Arkansas last week. They have a lot of left-handers in the lineup, and it seemed like you didn't have your best changeup that day. How were you still able to succeed against the lefty-heavy lineup without the best command of your changeup?

Beavan: I still threw it even though I didn't have it the best that day. I just mixed in my slider more, and I'm starting to throw my two-seam a lot to lefties. I'm starting to get real good downward action on my two-seam, and that is really helping me out a lot. When I don't have my changeup against the lefties, I'm trying to hit my spots a lot more and not trying to miss.

I can't fastball-slider every lefty. You can only backdoor and slider so many times on a lefty, and that's one of the hardest pitches to throw a lefty––the backdoor pitch. I just throw my two-seam a lot more, and it helps me get a lot of ground balls with it.

Cole: When I talked to you last year, you said you were starting to bring the two-seam fastball back and throw it more often. About how often are you throwing that two-seam versus the four-seam fastball?

Beavan: I probably throw my four-seam 70 percent of the time, and the other 30 percent is my two-seam. But today, I probably flipped those numbers around because there was seven lefties in the lineup. So, depending on lefties and righties, I throw my two-seam a lot more to lefties because I feel it works a lot better off lefties than righties.

When I go outside on righties, I'm sticking with the four-seam 95 percent of the time. Then when I go in, I might show a two-seam, but for the most part, I'm trying to stick a pitch on the corner and not trying to get a swing and miss.

Cole: I know you have a lot of starts left in this 2010 season. Is there anything you're looking to improve more than anything else right now?

Beavan: Basically just throwing all three of my pitches with the same arm slot and keeping the same arm path. That's what I'm going to work on for the rest of this year and probably the rest of my career––just getting to where I can feel comfortable with all three pitches and throwing them in any count or any situation.

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