Horne Speeding Up The Learning Curve

Statistics are a great way to rate a player's performance, but seldom are a great tool to rate a player's development in the minor leagues. Rather than let Alan Horne dominate the South Atlantic League this season with his pure stuff, the Yankees sped up his learning curve by making him pay for his mistakes in the Florida State League.

Hidden behind his 6-8 record, his 5.27 ERA with the Tampa Yankees, and his 60 walks in just 107 2/3 innings, real progress has been made this season with Alan Horne and the Yankees are pleased with his development in his professional debut season.

"He's really improved. We changed his delivery some, quite a bit actually. He responded well. He had to adjust to it and he did a great job adapting to it," Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik said of Horne's new delivery. "He's done a great job."

"All of his pitches have improved," Pavlik continued. "His command has improved and he's done a really good job. He's been a steady progress all year, which is what you like to see."

It is tough for fans, and often times for the player himself, to realize that it isn't always about posting great numbers to see that progress is being made.

"It's been a season that's had quite a few ups and downs for me," Horne told PinstripesPlus.com. "I came into the higher level, high-A ball, and expected to have some success. I struggled early on with some mechanical changes and had the deal where some guys in the organization thought I should be throwing against some of the higher talents, because at a lower level I wouldn't be paying for all of my mistakes. It speeds up the learning curve."

While neither the Yankees nor Horne would go into the specific details of the changes made to the mechanics in his delivery, both sides citing that it is too complicated to get into, the relevant result of the changes has been an increased trust level.

"I've started to pitch better and put some things together here as of late," said Horne. "I'm used to the changes now. There's not a trust issue with the new stuff anymore. I'm really just starting to trust myself and my stuff again. It finally looks like it's starting to come together here towards the end."

Essentially breaking him down to build him back up, the differences in the results might appear minor but they are certainly there. After opening the season with a 5.73 ERA in his first 16 games with the Tampa Yankees, Horne has posted a 4.38 ERA in his last nine games, all while adjusting to his new mechanics in his first year of professional baseball.

"Horne's been a guy that I've classified since the first time I saw him as having the best stuff on our staff," said Tampa catcher P.J. Pilittere. "I mean, he's got a power fastball, dynamite breaking stuff, he's just a guy that hasn't had it go the best for him results-wise. But he's working his tail off and he's going to get there."

"He keeps getting better and better. He's developing his changeup a bit more now. He's just got great stuff and he pitches and competes well, but he just has that one bad inning that gets him every time. He works hard."

"He's got a fastball that can get up to 94-95 MPH, it's a real good one," Pilittere continued. "He's got a two-seamer too. He's got a big overhand curveball that we like to use as his strikeout pitch, which is pretty good, there's not too many like it. He throws an occasional slider too and we're trying to work that changeup in there. Over the last month, I'd say his changeup has become a pretty good pitch."

While the numbers aren't exactly where Horne and the Yankees would have liked this season, nobody has doubted his stuff this year, especially his catcher.

"His stuff is so electric that he's got the ability to go out there and shut down anybody on any given day," said Pilittere. "I just think certain times, that one bad inning, he falls behind a little bit. He throws hard but that fastball isn't as good when you're behind in the count. I think that's just the main thing. He's working hard though it and trust me, he doesn't want to be results-wise where he is right now. He's more than capable of better things and he knows that. He's just got to work through it a little bit."

One of the reasons Alan Horne falls victim to the "one bad inning" has been his propensity for untimely walks and a seemingly lack of concentration, oddly enough, when things are going well for him in games.

"I know he's not trying to walk anybody," said Pilittere. "It's the last thing he wants to do, is walk somebody. It's funny, most of his walks will come when he gets two quick outs and then walks the next guy. I don't know if it's a lack of focus or thinking 'I got two quick outs and almost in the dugout' and forgetting about the next batter. A lot can still happen with two outs. But it's just a focus thing with him, but he's going to be fine."

Coach Pavlik agrees with Pilittere's assessment. "A lot of it is concentration, getting acclimated to throwing every five days, pitching on a five-day rotation," Pavlik said of Horne's high number of walks this season. "That can cause it. Some of it is mechanics and the rest is just concentration, staying ahead of hitters and not giving hitters too much credit."

What Horne now realizes is that if he can learn to avoid that one bad inning and keep his focus until the third out in the frame, his numbers should begin to reflect the progress he has made thus far in his new mechanics.

"We worked out several mechanical flaws that were keeping me from doing some of the things that I wanted to do," Horne revealed. "When we started making some of the changes, getting used to them and trusting my stuff and the new mechanics, that's been a real big issue with me [in regards to the walk totals], just trusting what's going on. It's definitely been the walks that have been askew from all of my numbers. That's the thing of missing the one bad inning all year."

"It hasn't been the case where I've thrown five or six innings and I've thrown a walk here and there. It's been one inning where I've been cruising and then I walk three guys and give up one of my hits. You're looking around and there's still runners on second and third and you've still got one out or something like that. Then you're just trying to get out then. One inning has usually ruined a good outing."

For the fans and critics unable to see behind the numbers to quantify actual progress being made, Alan Horne and the Yankees are not caught up in the statistics this season. In fact, both sides expected the numbers to falter this season before the year even began.

"When stuff is so new to you, and when you've done things a certain way for so long and you don't experience immediate success, you're kind of like 'am I doing the right thing or not'," said the 23-year old. "It's not that you don't trust these guys making these changes and feel like they don't know what they are talking about, you're just kind of lost in some of it. The guys come up and say 'we're going to make some changes and be ready to take your lumps here this year'."

"They told me from the beginning we're going to make some changes and don't be surprised if you have some ups and downs this year. They told me they were not sitting there and looking at numbers with you. It's your stuff, your mechanics, and making sure they get better on a consistent basis all year. I've really done that. And now I'm starting to put things together a little bit and I'm starting to throw the ball well as of late."

"It's not like I have had a bad outing here and a bad outing there, but it's been four or five good innings mixed in with one really bad inning," Horne continued. "That's skewed some of my numbers a little bit and at the same time, these guys [Yankees' coaches] aren't just looking at numbers. They're just looking at my stuff, that my mechanics have gotten better, they've been telling me your good innings outweigh big-time your bad innings. If you just lay out your number of good innings to your bad innings, they are a lot better."

Pitching in high-A ball rather than low-A in his first professional season, a philosophy of throwing him right into the fire and allowing him to learn from his mistakes, has taught Horne to not give too much credit to the hitters as Coach Pavlik pointed out.

"There's some good hitters in this league," Horne remarked. "When I walk guys and get behind the hitters, it's tough to pitch no matter what league you're in. I'm glad that I'm here and I think this is the place where I needed to start. Like I said before, I don't pay for my mistakes like I do here."

"At a lower level, even getting behind batters, I could survive just on pure stuff. When you get to this level or the ones above, pure stuff isn't what gets you to the next level. It's something where you need to execute and be on top of your game. You can't give these guys any advantage."

So while Horne's numbers have not accurately portrayed a successful season in his development as a burgeoning Major League pitcher, both he and the Yankees are extremely satisfied with the progress being made thus far and the goal of allowing him to learn from the school of hard-knocks has certainly paid dividends.

"I just think at a lower level, I wouldn't have learned stuff so quickly," said the right-hander. "I'm not saying that I wouldn't have struggled [at a lower level], but it wouldn't have thrown so much in my face. At a lower level, when I struggle, I might have given up a run or two. When I struggle here and make some mistakes, guys have got you on the ropes. They can get you out of there in one inning."

"It's not a place [the Florida State League] where you can struggle for four or five innings and come out okay," Horne concluded. "You've got to learn a lot quicker and make adjustments. That's something they felt I could do all year long and I felt like it too. It's definitely a learning curve, and with my college experience, they felt like I could jump in. It's all going to be good when it's all said and done. I'm a lot better than where I started this year and this year has definitely prepared me for the next level, no doubt."

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nHidden behind his 6-8 record, his 5.27 ERA with the Tampa Yankees, and his 60 walks in just 107 2/3 innings, real progress has been made this season with Alan Horne and the Yankees are pleased with his development in his professional debut season.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's really improved. We changed his delivery some, quite a bit actually. He responded well. He had to adjust to it and he did a great job adapting to it,\" Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik said of Horne's new delivery. \"He's done a great job.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"All of his pitches have improved,\" Pavlik continued. \"His command has improved and he's done a really good job. He's been a steady progress all year, which is what you like to see.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt is tough for fans, and often times for the player himself, to realize that it isn't always about posting great numbers to see that progress is being made.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's been a season that's had quite a few ups and downs for me,\" Horne told PinstripesPlus.com. \"I came into the higher level, high-A ball, and expected to have some success. I struggled early on with some mechanical changes and had the deal where some guys in the organization thought I should be throwing against some of the higher talents, because at a lower level I wouldn't be paying for all of my mistakes. It speeds up the learning curve.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile neither the Yankees nor Horne would go into the specific details of the changes made to the mechanics in his delivery, both sides citing that it is too complicated to get into, the relevant result of the changes has been an increased trust level.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've started to pitch better and put some things together here as of late,\" said Horne. \"I'm used to the changes now. There's not a trust issue with the new stuff anymore. I'm really just starting to trust myself and my stuff again. It finally looks like it's starting to come together here towards the end.\"
\r\n
\r\nEssentially breaking him down to build him back up, the differences in the results might appear minor but they are certainly there. After opening the season with a 5.73 ERA in his first 16 games with the Tampa Yankees, Horne has posted a 4.38 ERA in his last nine games, all while adjusting to his new mechanics in his first year of professional baseball.
\r\n
\r\n\"Horne's been a guy that I've classified since the first time I saw him as having the best stuff on our staff,\" said Tampa catcher P.J. Pilittere. \"I mean, he's got a power fastball, dynamite breaking stuff, he's just a guy that hasn't had it go the best for him results-wise. But he's working his tail off and he's going to get there.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He keeps getting better and better. He's developing his changeup a bit more now. He's just got great stuff and he pitches and competes well, but he just has that one bad inning that gets him every time. He works hard.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got a fastball that can get up to 94-95 MPH, it's a real good one,\" Pilittere continued. \"He's got a two-seamer too. He's got a big overhand curveball that we like to use as his strikeout pitch, which is pretty good, there's not too many like it. He throws an occasional slider too and we're trying to work that changeup in there. Over the last month, I'd say his changeup has become a pretty good pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile the numbers aren't exactly where Horne and the Yankees would have liked this season, nobody has doubted his stuff this year, especially his catcher.
\r\n
\r\n\"His stuff is so electric that he's got the ability to go out there and shut down anybody on any given day,\" said Pilittere. \"I just think certain times, that one bad inning, he falls behind a little bit. He throws hard but that fastball isn't as good when you're behind in the count. I think that's just the main thing. He's working hard though it and trust me, he doesn't want to be results-wise where he is right now. He's more than capable of better things and he knows that. He's just got to work through it a little bit.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the reasons Alan Horne falls victim to the \"one bad inning\" has been his propensity for untimely walks and a seemingly lack of concentration, oddly enough, when things are going well for him in games.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know he's not trying to walk anybody,\" said Pilittere. \"It's the last thing he wants to do, is walk somebody. It's funny, most of his walks will come when he gets two quick outs and then walks the next guy. I don't know if it's a lack of focus or thinking 'I got two quick outs and almost in the dugout' and forgetting about the next batter. A lot can still happen with two outs. But it's just a focus thing with him, but he's going to be fine.\"
\r\n
\r\nCoach Pavlik agrees with Pilittere's assessment. \"A lot of it is concentration, getting acclimated to throwing every five days, pitching on a five-day rotation,\" Pavlik said of Horne's high number of walks this season. \"That can cause it. Some of it is mechanics and the rest is just concentration, staying ahead of hitters and not giving hitters too much credit.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhat Horne now realizes is that if he can learn to avoid that one bad inning and keep his focus until the third out in the frame, his numbers should begin to reflect the progress he has made thus far in his new mechanics.
\r\n
\r\n\"We worked out several mechanical flaws that were keeping me from doing some of the things that I wanted to do,\" Horne revealed. \"When we started making some of the changes, getting used to them and trusting my stuff and the new mechanics, that's been a real big issue with me [in regards to the walk totals], just trusting what's going on. It's definitely been the walks that have been askew from all of my numbers. That's the thing of missing the one bad inning all year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It hasn't been the case where I've thrown five or six innings and I've thrown a walk here and there. It's been one inning where I've been cruising and then I walk three guys and give up one of my hits. You're looking around and there's still runners on second and third and you've still got one out or something like that. Then you're just trying to get out then. One inning has usually ruined a good outing.\"
\r\n
\r\nFor the fans and critics unable to see behind the numbers to quantify actual progress being made, Alan Horne and the Yankees are not caught up in the statistics this season. In fact, both sides expected the numbers to falter this season before the year even began.
\r\n
\r\n\"When stuff is so new to you, and when you've done things a certain way for so long and you don't experience immediate success, you're kind of like 'am I doing the right thing or not',\" said the 23-year old. \"It's not that you don't trust these guys making these changes and feel like they don't know what they are talking about, you're just kind of lost in some of it. The guys come up and say 'we're going to make some changes and be ready to take your lumps here this year'.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"They told me from the beginning we're going to make some changes and don't be surprised if you have some ups and downs this year. They told me they were not sitting there and looking at numbers with you. It's your stuff, your mechanics, and making sure they get better on a consistent basis all year. I've really done that. And now I'm starting to put things together a little bit and I'm starting to throw the ball well as of late.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not like I have had a bad outing here and a bad outing there, but it's been four or five good innings mixed in with one really bad inning,\" Horne continued. \"That's skewed some of my numbers a little bit and at the same time, these guys [Yankees' coaches] aren't just looking at numbers. They're just looking at my stuff, that my mechanics have gotten better, they've been telling me your good innings outweigh big-time your bad innings. If you just lay out your number of good innings to your bad innings, they are a lot better.\"
\r\n
\r\nPitching in high-A ball rather than low-A in his first professional season, a philosophy of throwing him right into the fire and allowing him to learn from his mistakes, has taught Horne to not give too much credit to the hitters as Coach Pavlik pointed out.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's some good hitters in this league,\" Horne remarked. \"When I walk guys and get behind the hitters, it's tough to pitch no matter what league you're in. I'm glad that I'm here and I think this is the place where I needed to start. Like I said before, I don't pay for my mistakes like I do here.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"At a lower level, even getting behind batters, I could survive just on pure stuff. When you get to this level or the ones above, pure stuff isn't what gets you to the next level. It's something where you need to execute and be on top of your game. You can't give these guys any advantage.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo while Horne's numbers have not accurately portrayed a successful season in his development as a burgeoning Major League pitcher, both he and the Yankees are extremely satisfied with the progress being made thus far and the goal of allowing him to learn from the school of hard-knocks has certainly paid dividends.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just think at a lower level, I wouldn't have learned stuff so quickly,\" said the right-hander. \"I'm not saying that I wouldn't have struggled [at a lower level], but it wouldn't have thrown so much in my face. At a lower level, when I struggle, I might have given up a run or two. When I struggle here and make some mistakes, guys have got you on the ropes. They can get you out of there in one inning.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not a place [the Florida State League] where you can struggle for four or five innings and come out okay,\" Horne concluded. \"You've got to learn a lot quicker and make adjustments. That's something they felt I could do all year long and I felt like it too. It's definitely a learning curve, and with my college experience, they felt like I could jump in. It's all going to be good when it's all said and done. I'm a lot better than where I started this year and this year has definitely prepared me for the next level, no doubt.\"
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