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As his recent struggles have shown, Ronald Herrera still has work to do on his game.

TRENTON, NJ -- The Trenton Thunder pitching staff boasts some of the best pitchers in the Eastern League, and while he might not be pitching like it lately that includes right-hander Ronald Herrera who was among the ERA leaders as late as two starts ago.

Herrera arrived to the Yankees organization this season after being traded from San Diego for prospect Jose Pirela. Before his time in the Padres farm system, he was also in the Oakland Athletics organization, where in 2014, he was named a top 20 prospect in the organization by Baseball America and MLB.com. In four minor league seasons prior to this year, Herrera owned a 3.79 ERA [82 games], striking out 296 batters and walking 100.

This season, he has spent almost all of his time in Double-A Trenton with one lone start in Triple-A earlier in the year. In 2016, he has a combined 4-4 record [including 0-1 in Triple-A] with an ERA of 4.29 (3.77 in Double-A). But he has struggled in his last two starts in particular, allowing ten earned runs in seven total innings pitched.

“I’m extremely happy to be here playing in Trenton,” Herrera said. “I’m grateful for the Yankees organization to give me a chance to play at this level, considering how young I am. I’m just trying to give it my all.”

A pitcher with big strikeout numbers, 51 in just nine starts and among the farm system leaders, Herrera said that he has six pitches in his repertoire; a four-seam [90-94 mph] fastball, a two-seamer, a changeup [82-84 mph], a cutter [87 mph] that he is using to work on left-handed batters, a slider and a curveball [75-79 mph].

His extensive pitching repertoire is a big help for the team to have, according to Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado.

“Some guys have multiple great pitches, but not many,” Rosado said. “It’s a plus for us to have a guy like him.”

But even though Herrera said he feels good about having six different pitches to pitch during a game, he understands that there is a lot of work left to be done before he is a complete pitcher as that's been evident lately. In his lone start in Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre he got lit up, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings pitched. The one plus is that he actually struck out eight, further cementing his big strikeout ability.

“I just have to keep working on my pitches, trying to make sure that I finish the innings I’m pitching well in,” Herrera said. “I would like to think that I have a good command on my pitches. I have a great staff that works with me every day and I just need to demonstrate that I am capable of playing at a big league level.”
   
Herrera is from Venezuela and not only has he had to adjust to playing and living in the United States, but also had to play for multiple organizations in Major League Baseball. He did have to adjust to having to move to so many locations too, something that he admits was a chore at times.   

“It wasn’t easy at first, making that transition,” Herrera said. “But I think because I have spent several years in the United States, I have gotten into a good rhythm and habit of going about playing professionally. I’m thankful that everything has worked out well so far. The organization has treated me well.”

Rosado said that Herrera pitching in Double-A at his age is impressive overall and could be a big piece for the organization moving forward.

“What I’ve seen from Ronald is very impressive,” Rosado said. “He’s good and has been throwing the ball well this season. He’s also been able to execute our game plan well. He’s only 21 years old and he has great pitch ability. He is able to command all of his pitches and pitch behind in the count.”

Manager Bobby Mitchell likes what he has seen so far from Herrera, who is tied for the 16th best WHIP among qualified Eastern League pitchers with a WHIP of 1.17 as of May 28.

“That guy can pitch, especially at such a young age,” Mitchell said prior to Herrera's last outing. “At various points in the season, he’s shown his potential. It’s a pleasure to watch him pitch on the mound.”

Herrera said that he wants to keep improving his non-fastball pitches and get them up to a Major League level. Herrera has the makings of a solid big league starter and he is only 21 years old [he turned 21 earlier in May], so he still has years of development ahead of him.

“I just need to keep working on my secondary pitches and being able to throw them more consistently when I’m behind in the count,” Herrera said. “I think if I work on that, it’s going to help me out in the long run.”


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