Beavan finds feel for slider in victory

MIDLAND – Blake Beavan picked up his league leading sixth win on Thursday night to go with a strong 2.88 ERA after pitching eight strong innings against the Midland RockHounds. Lone Star Dugout takes a closer look at the outing.

Blake Beavan earned his Texas League-leading sixth victory of the season on Thursday night, as the Frisco RoughRiders finished with a four-game series split with the Midland RockHounds.

Beavan worked eight innings for the second consecutive start, allowing two runs on five hits. He threw 93 total pitches in the game [63 strikes] while walking one and striking out two.

Overall, Beavan was pleased with his team's performance in general, as Frisco extended its first-place lead over Corpus Christi and San Antonio to two games.

"We played great defense tonight," Beavan said. "And we scored enough runs tonight. I was just fortunate to keep my team in the game."

Despite the excellent results, Beavan felt like he was going through most of the start without his best stuff.

"I didn't have the stuff I wanted to have tonight," he said. "I had to battle through that. I had to throw more sliders than I wanted to. But for the most part, it wasn't bad."

The right-hander's velocity was once again solid, as he appears to be consistently sitting between 91-92 mph from start-to-start, bumping 93 a few times with the occasional 94 mph heater.

While the velocity is certainly up a tick from last season, Beavan has still been able to maintain his plus fastball command. He works both his two- and four-seamers well to both corners of the plate and does a good job of keeping it away from the middle of the zone.

Beavan didn't appear to have much feel for his changeup in the game, as he hung a couple early ones up in the zone and yielded a first-inning double on a changeup.

The hurler ended up relying on his breaking ball to both lefties and righties for much of the contest, and he threw 32 sliders out of 93 total pitches.

Early in the contest, the 21-year-old also didn't appear to have much feel for his slider. Though he was consistently throwing it for strikes, the pitch had more of a lazy break. Beavan feels he was lucky to escape the early innings without his sharpest offspeed stuff.

"Early on in the game, I was getting around my slider too much and dropping my elbow," he said. "I was fortunate to get some outs with those pitches."

But as the game progressed, so did Beavan's slider. He began throwing the pitch harder in the later innings, as it mostly ranged between 81-84 mph while featuring much sharper, much later break. He also started getting a number of swinging strikes on the slider later in the contest.

"I started throwing my slider harder," said Beavan of the later innings. "That was on purpose. Mainly, I was trying to get out front more and get on top of the slider more. As the game started going on, I started trying to really throw my slider harder just to see if I could get more command with it. It ended up working out for me."

After surrendering a run in the fourth inning, Beavan walked the leadoff hitter in the fifth.

The Metroplex native isn't a big fan of walks. In fact, he has issued just nine in 56.1 innings this season. Following the free pass, 13 of his next 14 pitches were fastballs.

"After I walked that guy, that definitely got me a little bit," he said. "Any time you walk somebody like that, you've just got to bounce back and get that next guy. If you let that stuff get to you, it's usually not a good thing. They can put another two or three on the board and you're out of the game right there.

"The biggest thing I tried to do after that fourth inning was just go back to ground zero and try to locate my fastball, try not to do too much, and just mix in my slider as much as I could."

Beavan locked in after the walk, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. The lone hitter to reach base did so on an infield single.

His command remained strong throughout the game––if not improving in the latter innings––and he held his velocity deep. In fact, Beavan's first two fastballs of the eighth inning registered at 94 and 93 mph, respectively.

For the 6-foot-7, 250-pound prospect, it was the solid fastball-slider combination that helped carry him through the seventh and eighth innings of Thursday's game, and that's a sign that his stuff is improving.

Last season, Beavan's average fastball was right around 90 mph. Now, as previously mentioned, he consistently sits between 91-92 mph.

His slider was a bit loose and lazy at 76-80 mph, but he consistently throws the pitch between 81-83 mph this season, where it is showing signs of tightening and sharpening with some depth.

Beavan says the slider has been a big focus for him over the last year.

"This year, my slider has been a lot better starting off this season," Beavan said. "This start, I definitely had to work a lot harder than I did in a lot of my other starts. But I've been working hard on my slider all year, even in Spring Training and in the bullpens.

"I'm just trying to get a feel for it and get on top. I want to get that tilt instead of getting side-to-side movement. I think when I'm struggling with it, I just tell myself to throw it harder and, fortunately, it turned out being good enough for it to work."

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