Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Dave Chavarria

STOCKTON, Calif. – The High-A Bakersfield pitching staff has an excellent starting rotation, with all five starters ranked among the system's top 50 prospects. Lone Star Dugout was able to catch up with Blaze pitching coach Dave Chavarria for a Q&A session.

Jason Cole: I noticed Kennil Gomez is throwing his breaking ball sometimes a little slower with some more depth. Is he using two different breaking balls, or is he just getting on top of the slower one?

Dave Chavarria: No, it's the same breaking ball. What it is is that we're working on trying to get his line more towards home plate. When he hits it right, that's the effect of it––he's getting on top of his breaking ball a little bit better, and it has a little better depth. The arm speed part is just getting the feel for it. He's slowly getting back to where it was last year.

Cole: When I talked to you last year, you talked about how focus was a bit of an issue for him. Did you feel that was the case the other night, when he kind of lost command after giving up the home run?

Chavarria: Not so much. I think the other day after the home run, it was more the location of stuff. The focus part is always going to be part of most of these kids' games down here. They're learning how to lock in on every single pitch and to every single batter. But the other night, it was more missing location-wise. Walks all the sudden came back and caught up with him.

Cole: What were your thoughts on Jake Brigham's outing here against Stockton?

Chavarria: After the first inning, I thought he did much better. The first inning, I thought he came out and I think he tried to do more than what he needed to do. He came out and it looked like he was trying to pitch from the very first pitch that he made, and he didn't have to. His delivery was a little slow. But after the first inning–from the second inning on–I think he was much better delivery-wise, tempo-wise. It was much, much better.

Cole: You've got a healthy Michael Main back here now. How do you feel about his first few outings?

Chavarria: Outstanding. Real good job by Michael. He made some adjustments in Spring Training, and he has kept with them. From the first outing to the second outing to the third, he is getting better and better. Everything right now is working for him. He's comfortable, and his confidence is up. That's a big thing with a lot of these kids. For Michael, especially after last year with being sick, he is making big strides right now.

Cole: Compared to last year when he was sick, is there a noticeable difference right now just in strength and durability?

Chavarria: Oh yeah. Even in Spring Training, I noticed. He doesn't look like the 18-year-old kid that we signed fresh out of high school. He has put on some real good muscle and some strength. That's a credit to him and our strength coaches. He has worked hard in the offseason and continues to work hard with our strength coach here. And like I said, his maturity factor has developed a little bit more on the physical side. He has kind of had the mental side of the mature factor. So now they're both coming together and it's a pretty good thing to watch.

Cole: Had you worked much with Carlos Pimentel prior to this season?

Chavarria: Just in instructional leagues. And the one year that I roved. This year is actually the first time I've really, really put my hands on him. But he's a real good kid. Listens, takes everything to heart––real coachable. He likes to try things and work on things in bullpens to try and improve his game. That's what he's doing right now.

Cole: One thing I noticed in Spring Training was that Pimentel's fastball looked like it had picked up some more movement than it had in the past. Is there any particularly adjustment he made to cause that?

Chavarria: Yet again I think that's just maturity factor. He's a little bit stronger and he's understanding his delivery. He isn't trying to overthrow pitches. He's staying on-line more. It's not a rush and a grunt and an, ‘I'm going to heave it up there' type thing. He's understanding what he has to do and hitting his arm path a lot better. Those things add up to a little bit more movement and a little bit more velocity.

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