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We sat down with Yankees co-pitching coordinator Danny Borrell for a Q&A session

We sat down with Yankees' minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell for a Q&A session. In part two of this multi-part series to be released in the coming weeks we get his take on if Jonathan Holder should make a return to starting pitching, if Johnny Barbato and/or Giovanny Gallegos are ready for the big leagues, what progress he's seen from Luis Severino, and much, much more!. This time a year ago I thought Jonathan Holder was the 'sleeper' of all sleepers.  What I didn't know, however, was that he was going to turn into such a dominant reliever.  I thought he was a really good starting pitching prospect.  Is there a temptation to try him back in that starting role given just how deep his arsenal is?  Or are you going to leave him alone and let him do his thing out of the bullpen?

Borrell: It's funny because he came in [to professional baseball] as a reliever and then we turned him into a starter.  It's always tempting to take an arm like that and put him back in the rotation but he obviously found a niche, and he kept the ball rolling.  Heck, his velocity jumped four to six miles per hour in average velocity.  He's obviously found something he's very successful at so I think taking him out of that role may not be in his best interest.  He's in camp right pitching to earn a spot in the bullpen.  Unless any unforeseen things come up he's going to stay there and probably carve out a nice little career for himself in the big leagues. Do you think his time starting games in 2015 helped him transition back to the bullpen and have the kind of success he had last year?  What improved?  The curveball?  The changeup?  All of it?

Borrell: I think it's all of it.  As a starter you're getting a lot of reps and he came in [to professional baseball] as a pitch-ability guy so it's not like we taught him how to pitch, he just [developed] more weapons at his disposal.  He added the changeup and his changeup improved.  He added that cutter and now he can vary the shape of it to even a slider.  And then you add in to it his fastball command and it's a reliever with four pitches.  It's very similar to Adam Warren.  Adam Warren has had a great career and it's been as a three to four-pitch reliever in the big leagues.  I'm not comparing him to Warren, that's unfair to both, but he's that type of reliever. You mentioned a three to four-pitch reliever and boy it sounds like you're talking about Giovanny Gallegos who had a great year.  Did you see this coming?  He was a solid starting pitching prospect but he seems to be an even better relief pitching prospect.

Borrell: We had him in the rotation and he did okay but it was one of those things where we thought we could get more out of him in the bullpen.  He was a strike-thrower and we thought a little more power would come up.  He's another kid, he started at 90-92 mph and by the end he's 93-96 mph with two plus breaking balls.  It's amazing the year he had but I never thought it would have -- it didn't pale in comparison to Holder but he got overshadowed by the season Holder had.  But he struck out 116 guys and walked 20 or something ridiculous like that, and that's a heck of a season. You mentioned the two plus breaking pitches.  I knew about the curveball.  The slider is now a plus pitch?

Borrell: Yeah the slider is now mid-80s and he can flip it up there even harder [at times] too but he's such a pitch-ability guy that he can vary that shape whenever he wants to.  The shapes are similar, the curveball and slider, but he can land both in the zone and he can expand [the zone] too. You mentioned getting overshadowed -- Johnny Barbato had his struggles ERA-wise in the big leagues and then pitched on the Scranton-Bronx shuttle it seemed, but when he pitched in the minors he had a very good season.  Everybody knows he's got the power arm and the good curveball.  Is that where he still is or is he mixing in the changeup a bit more now?

Borrell: He's mixing in a little change-split that's working on.  He's got the slider too.  Talk about a kid who came into camp [last year] and just opened the eyes of everybody.  He had a spectacular camp and made the team out of Spring Training.  Obviously young kids like that get a call-up to the big leagues for the first time but he still came down to Triple-A and obviously put up some big numbers.  We're looking for the same [this year].  He's in camp competing for a job.  We're hoping we can improve that fastball command, work on both breaking balls, get that split-changeup involved, and heck you may have another starting pitcher on your hand. Wait, you said starting pitcher. 

Borrell: You never know.  We'll see what happens.  We're going to give him the opportunity to throw some innings but heck he's there to make the team out of Spring Training, and that's first and foremost.  Hopefully he forces their hand and he makes that team. Before we move on to some other minor league arms let's talk about Luis Severino, another guy who struggled at the big league level but seemed to pitch well at Triple-A.  Did you get to see him and did he make any sort of progress secondary pitch-wise, the kind of progress you guys were hoping for?

Borrell: Oh yeah and he's been here in Tampa for the last [month].  The changeup has certainly come a long way.  The expectations for this kid were just so high coming off his rookie season that it was almost impossible to live up to it.  He was a little unlucky at first but came back down, worked his tail off, and I don't know if you can find a pitcher with better stuff across the board. You know the media kept bashing the point home last year that he was pretty much a fastball-only pitcher but I've seen the good secondary stuff you're talking about coming up through the minor leagues and you've seen it.  Maybe he didn't go to them enough last year, maybe he lost faith in them, I don't know.  But are you comfortable with where the changeup and slider are in particular now and going forward?

Borrell: Yeah and obviously talking to Larry [Rothschild] and the Major League staff they could probably give you a better answer but he can shape his slider into a curveball -- he can make it short and quick -- I think if you talk to any hitter in the big leagues they're going to let you know that breaking ball is one of the better ones they've seen.  Obviously we know he's got a good changeup and when he went back up in the relief role he was a fastball-slider guy.  When you're upper-90s and touching 100 mph with that slider he has, especially in the role he was pitching in, he did a heck of a job.  He's a great kid, he's going to work his tail off, and I don't expect anything less than a great season [from him]. Final question on Severino then -- you mentioned the versatility, in your opinion as I realize it's not your call, but where do you see him fitting in best?

Borrell: We're talking about a guy with three plus pitches.  That in of itself narrows it down to starter.  We'll see what happens across the street in terms of what he'll do in Spring Training but he's got the qualities of a big league starting pitcher.

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