Wotherspoon Filling Up The Zone

STATEN ISLAND, NY - Right-handed pitcher Matt Wotherspoon is finishing up his first professional season with the Staten Island Yankees. The former Pittsburgh Panther has gained valuable experience the past few months and has become a reliable closer for the team, thanks to throwing a lot of strikes with quality stuff and gaining confidence on the mound.

As a Pittsburgh Panther, Wotherspoon led his team with 14 starts and struck out nearly 55 batters. He remains third all-time in Pitt history for strikeouts with a total of 250. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 34th round and came in with the goal to put guys away as much as possible. Striking out around one batter per inning pitched this season, Wotherspoon is off to a good start to his career.

"He has pitched his way into being one of our late inning guys," manager Mario Garza said. "[He is a] closer type guy so that kind of says a lot for his performance this year. He's done a great job.

"He had one of my favorite outings of the year against Hudson Valley where he just came out and was lights out. So that's what he's capable of. [He throws] 91-93 with some sink and commands his slider real well."

Even after pitching a team-high 79 innings for the Panthers, Wotherspoon was still able to maintain his velocity this season for the Yankees. His fastball has been sitting mostly around 92-93 and has reached 94 a few times.

"Fastball command's been pretty good this season and being able to throw any pitch at any count and throw strikes," listed Wotherspoon on his improvements this season. "My changeup has gotten a lot better since I've been here too."

Pitching coach Tim Norton is impressed with the young player's ability to perform well when it matter's the most.

"He's been really good for us, he has been a tough situation guy, sort of the back-end of the game. He's throwing strikes," Norton noted. "He has come in at big spots and done well. You can't ask for more than what he has done for us."

The Pennsylvania native throws a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. With his fastball in the low nineties, curveball around 75, and slider around 80, he has a nice pitching mix.

Norton, however, favors his fastball.

"It cuts a little bit, good cut fastball," he said. "That's probably his best pitch. He makes pitches when it really counts, he's done that quite a few times. In pressure situations he throws strikes. He has three quality pitches and he fills up the zone with every one."

"My slider has been pretty good lately and all throughout the year," Wotherspoon added. "That has been my put away pitch, my slider. It's usually around 81-83, somewhere in that area."

Both Garza and Norton did not make any adjustments to his delivery or grips this season. They've been hands off for the most part. Wotherspoon has had free reign to show what he is capable of.

"Our organizational philosophy... we kind of want to see what they have [and] give them a chance to perform with what they have," Garza said. "So we haven't done a whole lot with him. We talk about little things like the Yankee pitching philosophy but not so much tweaking mechanics and things with a guy that just signs."

"They kind have been just letting me do my own thing," Wotherspoon sadded. "A little advice here and there and pitch selection, kind of minor things really."

During a draft day interview with Pinstripesplus, Wotherspoon noted that he wanted to put guys away more. Both Garza and Norton believe he has accomplished that goal.

"I would say so," Garza noted. "I think from where he started to where he is now, he has done a real good job of that. I think he's able to finish pitches more with his fastball. He's able to get some freeze fastballs and also he's really developed his slider."

"I think everyone wants to do that," Norton added. "Everyone's always going for the strike out, you can't blame them. You want to punch them out. But guys are always going to say that, so he's doing fine. He just has to continue to make a good pitch."

Wotherspoon has improved greatly this season and Garza especially noticed an increase in his confidence while on the mound.

"He came in, not unsure of himself, but just with a lack of experience," Garza said. "I think he's done a nice job of gaining confidence and he pitches with that confidence more now than he has [in the past]."

Moving forward Garza would like him to continue developing his third pitch changeup while Norton wants him to work on his consistency.

"I think with his fastball at around 91-92, he might need that third pitch to help him get over the hump," Garza said. "If he could develop that third pitch I think it would be really good."

"Everyone has the stuff, well a lot of guys have the stuff. It's just who can do it day in and day out. Just consistency," Norton concluded.

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