With tremendous focus and a strong mindset, Camarena is confident that his offseason and Spring Training have strengthened both his physical and mental condition for the upcoming season of pitching.
"Spring training went really well for me," said the Bonita, California native. "I came in knowing I could make a full season team and that was my goal. I think the same mindset I had in offseason training I took with me to Spring Training.
"When it came to results on the baseball field, it really showed and my confidence really went up. My game got a lot better and my pitching felt really good, my arm felt strong."
Camarena focused primarily on his overall pitching and is confident he will continue to improve and become an even better player for the upcoming season and his team.
"Particularly in Spring Training I worked on my strength, fastball, velocity, and a few things in my wind-up," the left-handed pitcher said.
Camarena struggled in his first couple of Charleston outings, surrendering ten earned runs combined in just seven innings pitched.
"My rhythm, getting used to the stadium, and playing in front of a big crowd of people was difficult - it was my first experience with that," he said. "But probably nerves and inconsistencies with my mechanics, which I was able to work out, were my biggest setbacks. Things are looking a lot better."
In order to progress and overcome his nerves, Camarena is working on tuning everything out and taking deep breaths, slowing down his game, and not letting them take over or speed up on him.
The recent RiverDogs game in Hickory, North Carolina, showed optimism and improvement for both Camarena and his team.
"My fastball location was a lot better, and my mechanics were a lot more consistent which helped me to be deceptive, which is a big part of my game," he admitted. "I don't throw 100 mph, so being able to change locations and use all my pitches is definitely the biggest part of my game.
"Early on I left a few pitches up and I think that kind of, I wouldn't say made me mad, but it got me focused enough to really get my pitches down and I finally settled in, it was nice."
This season Camarena is planning to improve on arm and mental strength, focus heavily on the game, and work on his craft - he's ready to grow up both mentally and physically.
Pitching coach Danny Borrell was just as enthusiastic and optimistic for Camarena on his improvement and success.
"He was really good in Spring Training," Borrell stated. "He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes and he's a young high school kid, so whenever you see pitching ability like that, it's really fun to watch.
"Right now I'm just really trying to get his legs involved and a little bit more leg drive, and I'm just trying to keep him down in the zone," said Borrell about the 6- foot, 200-pound pitcher.
So far this season, Borrell describes Camarena as an extremely hard worker.
"It doesn't look like anything bothers him. It's nice as a pitching coach to know we are going to see the same guy everyday and he's going to come out and work his hardest, and I expect the same out of him the rest of the year," Borrell continued.
"He was much more aggressive with his pitches [in his last outing], his change up was better, and he was down in the zone more with his fastball.
"When you don't throw 97-98 mph like some guys, you have to be able to hit your spots. He was much better with that, he stayed down, and pitched what he had to."
"At his age you just want to see the repetition, and you want to see him gain experience. Through throwing curveballs, better changeups, and better fastballs, the whole spectrum, he will improve."
RiverDog Manager Al Pedrique proceeded to explain his high hopes and expectations for Camarena not only for this season, but his overall success.
"The one thing I saw about Camarena is the way he worked on the mound and his composure [in Spring Training]," Pedrique said. "He is a kid with a great attitude and a good idea of how to pitch, and he's very competitive.
"He uses the fastball in and out of the plate, has a good changeup and a good breaking ball. I think once he gets his feet wet and feels completely comfortable, he should be able to really help us."
According to Pedrique, Camarena worked on keeping down his fastball, counts, and mixing up his pitches.
"He's a great kid who works hard, he knows the areas he needs improvement and what to work on to get better," the manager continued. "He's been struggling a little bit, but the numbers don't indicate what this kid can do.
"Once he feels comfortable and has confidence in throwing his fastball down the zone and uses changeups when he's in the count, he should be just fine."
His last outing in Hickory versus his first two outings was very promising.
"He was fast, and he got ahead in the count with his fastball which he started with early in the game. He then used a breaking ball and changeup, which he did after the second inning, or the second time he faced the line up, and he had a lot more confidence from then on," Pedrique added.
As far as improvement, Pedrique hopes to see Camarena throw his pitches for strikes, work on his confidence, and believe that he is where he is for a reason.
"We know he can pitch, he proved it in Spring Training, he just needs to keep working on getting better," Pedrique concluded.
Camarena Shaking Off The Nerves
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