Encinas Progressing Quickly

TAMPA, FL - It wasn't all that long ago that right-hander Gabe Encinas was one of the real up and coming pitching prospects in the Yankee farm system. He was starting out with a breakout season back in 2013 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He was still feeling his way back a year ago but he has been progressing very quickly in camp this Spring Training and looks dominating once again.

"I think it's been going good," Encinas said of his Spring Training camp. "The progression's been great, the arm feels good. I just came into camp looking to perform the way I am right now and so far everything's been great."

He has looked like a man on a mission in Spring Training as evidenced by his most recent outing. He not only struck out seven batters in three scoreless innings in an intrasquad game and showing three plus pitches, but perhaps most importantly he was commanding all of his pitches with precision.

"The delivery was huge," he said. "Everything has been flowing. I couldn't ask for a better day [the other day]. I was able to command every pitch so that helped big time."

He admits that his last game was clearly his best game so far but his other outings were quite good as well. He says he feels himself getting better with each passing out and that has him excited going forward.

"They went well but every outing has been a progression. I keep getting better every game and I'd have to say my last game was my best. I'm glad to see everything is coming together before the season starts."

A mid-90s hurler before he underwent Tommy John surgery, his fastball velocity came back last year upon his return. His secondary pitches, however, while they showed glimpses of the once great pre-surgery movement, were not exactly back in 2014. They have come back with a vengeance though this camp.

"Yes, I got a little curveball happy throughout the game [the other day] but we worked on the changeup too," he said. "I've got to get more feel for it but it's been working good for me."

His changeup has been working so well for him that he's been noticeably throwing a few more changeups against right-handed batters too, so much so that it appears to be another strikeout weapon for him against righties.

"We're trying to put that in there," he admitted. "You've got to throw it to whoever is at the plate so I'm going to try and work on that during the season as well."

With a little less than a week left in Spring Training camp, Encinas just wants to keep progressing before the start of the 2015 campaign which will be his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.

"Just keep working on my command, keep my mental game up to par, and not let anything get to me, the little miscues here and there," he said of things he would like to improve in camp. "I just want to stay focused."

He has had about as good a camp as anybody realistically had the right to expect from him. The industry standard says that it takes a pitcher a full 18 months for a pitcher to return to his normal self after Tommy John surgery and Encinas, who past that point this offseason, looks like a completely different pitcher than a year ago.

"Yeah I'd say that I'm ready to go," he said. "Instructs after Tommy John and all of the rehab stuff, I was a little shaky. Everything was up and down but I feel good this spring.

"I'm ready to go. I feel good health-wise, mentally, and I'm just ready to get this season started."

Appearing to be in mid-season form already, Encinas believes he can pick up right where he left off back in 2013 when he got off to the great start that year before the Tommy John surgery. He posted a 0.77 ERA in his first seven starts before the injury and he believes he can get off to a similar type start to the 2015 season with the way he's been throwing in camp this year.

"Absolutely, I feel like there's no limits. It's just about how hard I work, stay comfortable up there, and get in a groove," he concluded.

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