Q&A with Scott Aldred

We sat down with Trenton Thunder Pitching Coach Scott Aldred for a Q&A session to find out if Jeff Marquez has developed his curveball, what he thinks of Ian Kennedy's velocity, his early impressions of Joba Chamberlain, if he has seen better fastball command from the likes of Jeff Kennard and Edwar Ramirez this year, what he'd like to see more of from Alan Horne, and much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know you didn't have him last year, but Jason Jones has really put together a solid season so far after struggling a little bit in Double-A last year. What has been the keys to his success this year?

Scott Aldred: I hadn't seen him until this year so I don't have anything to reference it from. Last night [Friday night] was probably his best outing. He pounded the zone with his fastball and worked off of that much better. He's got three pitches that he commands pretty well and that's the key to his success.

PinstripesPlus: He had a good end to the season last year, but what has been the big difference from Alan Horne this year?

Aldred: Alan's got good equipment. I'd like to see him pitch a little bit better, become a pitcher, changing speeds and not just overpower guys. He tends to be a thrower out there, but on those nights when he decides to pitch, he's pretty darn good. His stuff is above average and it makes him what he is.

PinstripesPlus: You've gotten to see Jeff Marquez a little bit more than the rest of the guys. What can you tell us about how his game is progressing and has the curveball been a big difference for him?

Aldred: I've seen a little bit of Jeff so I know when he's good and when he's bad. When he's bad, he doesn't command his fastball far-side very good and he leaves some balls in the middle of the plate. This year he has been much better. He's throwing more strikes with his curveball, which is a plus because it gives him a pitch that he can throw there early in the count and not have to go to fastballs all the time. Just overall command with him, the stuff's the same, he has continued to develop fastball command. The curveball is going to be [a big difference for him], it's not done yet. I see some good ones come out of him but it's still a work in progress. It's not complete but I do see enough good ones to know that this is the right path for him.

PinstripesPlus: Brett Smith isn't a guy that's going to light up the radar gun but he is having a phenomenal year so far. What have you see from him this year?

Aldred: He just changes speeds all the time and he's kind of unpredictable. When I say that, it's unpredictable watching him but it's probably even worse hitting off of him. His changeup is probably his best secondary pitch. I sure would like to see him have better fastball command. That's something I want to make sure guys have when they are done here [in Trenton] because I don't think you can pitch much higher than this without good command of your fastball.

PinstripesPlus: I know he hasn't been up here long, but what you had him in Hawaii this past winter. What have you seen from Ian Kennedy and have you seen consistency from his fastball?

Aldred: Plus command of his fastball, a very good changeup, and he can make the ball spin and break on his curveball. I want to see some consistency though. He's kind of where Jeff [Marquez] was six or seven months ago when I had him in Hawaii. Jeff didn't command his curveball very good. Well now he's starting to get it and Ian will get it too real quick. I think probably within a month he's going to have pretty good control of his curveball. When he does that, now he'll have three pitches he commands very well. Factor in his slider and he gives batters another look. He's got the stuff to get the job done. His velocity is consistent, but more importantly for Ian, he understands the importance of command before overthrowing and lighting up the radar gun. If his working speed is 90-92 MPH, so be it because he can really dot it at the knees when he's on. To me that's way more important than throwing a ball down the middle but maybe it's 94 MPH. Those get turned around. The balls at the knees to the edges of the plate do not. I don't want him to worry about velocity. Wherever he was [in college], it's about staying focused on command because he can really command. His concentration levels are great. He is what you want all of your guys to do with their fastball. He's the guy.

PinstripesPlus: What have you seen from Joba Chamberlain in the short period he's been with the Yankees?

Aldred: I had him in Hawaii so I've seen him more than anybody in the organization. He's special. He's got plus-plus stuff, he's a very good competitor, as all the guys are. Probably that's more enjoyable for me to see than anything because when guys compete - you're not going to have great stuff every night and not be able to do the same things over and over - and Joba has that little edge about him. Combine that with a terrific arm and a great slider, it's not going to be long.

PinstripesPlus: Jeff Kennard was a guy who saw his velocity come back last season. Now that his velocity is back to where it was before, how has his command been thus far? Is that back?

Aldred: I've seen inconsistent command of his fastball. At times, he's shown a very good fastball. He's got some delivery issues that we're working on right now, but he's lacking fastball command. The stuff is there, but he's going to have to command it better. For him, again, he needs to be more a pitcher and less of a thrower.

PinstripesPlus: I know he's not here in Trenton anymore, but since we're on the topic of fastball command, Nardi told us the big thing with Edwar Ramirez was his fastball command. When he left here to go to Scranton, how was his fastball command coming around?

Aldred: Not so good. It's something that he needs to improve on. He works hard at it, and his fastball command doesn't have to be great because he's got a really good out pitch, but if he's ever going to pitch in the big leagues he's going to have to command his heater better.

PinstripesPlus: Of all the pitchers on your staff this year, who is the one pitcher you've been most surprised with how much progress he's made this year?

Aldred: Probably Jeff Marquez more than anybody at this point. He's put out a good start almost every single time this year, except for one, and I hadn't seen that from him and I don't think he had seen it from himself either. Yes, he's been a very nice surprise. I've always thought he has been more than capable of starting a lot of ball games in a row. Another guy is Mike Gardner, who has pitched real well here. He kind of flies under the radar. Nobody talks about him much but I think he's going to be a big leaguer someday. He's got a really good arm, he can sink the ball, has a nice slider, he's at a single slot and we're trying to maintain that slot. The more he repeats out of that slot, the better his stuff gets. I like him.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I know you didn't have him last year, but Jason Jones has really put together a solid season so far after struggling a little bit in Double-A last year. What has been the keys to his success this year?
\r\n
\r\nScott Aldred: I hadn't seen him until this year so I don't have anything to reference it from. Last night [Friday night] was probably his best outing. He pounded the zone with his fastball and worked off of that much better. He's got three pitches that he commands pretty well and that's the key to his success.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: He had a good end to the season last year, but what has been the big difference from Alan Horne this year?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: Alan's got good equipment. I'd like to see him pitch a little bit better, become a pitcher, changing speeds and not just overpower guys. He tends to be a thrower out there, but on those nights when he decides to pitch, he's pretty darn good. His stuff is above average and it makes him what he is.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: You've gotten to see Jeff Marquez a little bit more than the rest of the guys. What can you tell us about how his game is progressing and has the curveball been a big difference for him?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: I've seen a little bit of Jeff so I know when he's good and when he's bad. When he's bad, he doesn't command his fastball far-side very good and he leaves some balls in the middle of the plate. This year he has been much better. He's throwing more strikes with his curveball, which is a plus because it gives him a pitch that he can throw there early in the count and not have to go to fastballs all the time. Just overall command with him, the stuff's the same, he has continued to develop fastball command. The curveball is going to be [a big difference for him], it's not done yet. I see some good ones come out of him but it's still a work in progress. It's not complete but I do see enough good ones to know that this is the right path for him.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Brett Smith isn't a guy that's going to light up the radar gun but he is having a phenomenal year so far. What have you see from him this year?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: He just changes speeds all the time and he's kind of unpredictable. When I say that, it's unpredictable watching him but it's probably even worse hitting off of him. His changeup is probably his best secondary pitch. I sure would like to see him have better fastball command. That's something I want to make sure guys have when they are done here [in Trenton] because I don't think you can pitch much higher than this without good command of your fastball.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: I know he hasn't been up here long, but what you had him in Hawaii this past winter. What have you seen from Ian Kennedy and have you seen consistency from his fastball?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: Plus command of his fastball, a very good changeup, and he can make the ball spin and break on his curveball. I want to see some consistency though. He's kind of where Jeff [Marquez] was six or seven months ago when I had him in Hawaii. Jeff didn't command his curveball very good. Well now he's starting to get it and Ian will get it too real quick. I think probably within a month he's going to have pretty good control of his curveball. When he does that, now he'll have three pitches he commands very well. Factor in his slider and he gives batters another look. He's got the stuff to get the job done. His velocity is consistent, but more importantly for Ian, he understands the importance of command before overthrowing and lighting up the radar gun. If his working speed is 90-92 MPH, so be it because he can really dot it at the knees when he's on. To me that's way more important than throwing a ball down the middle but maybe it's 94 MPH. Those get turned around. The balls at the knees to the edges of the plate do not. I don't want him to worry about velocity. Wherever he was [in college], it's about staying focused on command because he can really command. His concentration levels are great. He is what you want all of your guys to do with their fastball. He's the guy.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What have you seen from Joba Chamberlain in the short period he's been with the Yankees?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: I had him in Hawaii so I've seen him more than anybody in the organization. He's special. He's got plus-plus stuff, he's a very good competitor, as all the guys are. Probably that's more enjoyable for me to see than anything because when guys compete - you're not going to have great stuff every night and not be able to do the same things over and over - and Joba has that little edge about him. Combine that with a terrific arm and a great slider, it's not going to be long.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Jeff Kennard was a guy who saw his velocity come back last season. Now that his velocity is back to where it was before, how has his command been thus far? Is that back?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: I've seen inconsistent command of his fastball. At times, he's shown a very good fastball. He's got some delivery issues that we're working on right now, but he's lacking fastball command. The stuff is there, but he's going to have to command it better. For him, again, he needs to be more a pitcher and less of a thrower.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: I know he's not here in Trenton anymore, but since we're on the topic of fastball command, Nardi told us the big thing with Edwar Ramirez was his fastball command. When he left here to go to Scranton, how was his fastball command coming around?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: Not so good. It's something that he needs to improve on. He works hard at it, and his fastball command doesn't have to be great because he's got a really good out pitch, but if he's ever going to pitch in the big leagues he's going to have to command his heater better.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Of all the pitchers on your staff this year, who is the one pitcher you've been most surprised with how much progress he's made this year?
\r\n
\r\nAldred: Probably Jeff Marquez more than anybody at this point. He's put out a good start almost every single time this year, except for one, and I hadn't seen that from him and I don't think he had seen it from himself either. Yes, he's been a very nice surprise. I've always thought he has been more than capable of starting a lot of ball games in a row. Another guy is Mike Gardner, who has pitched real well here. He kind of flies under the radar. Nobody talks about him much but I think he's going to be a big leaguer someday. He's got a really good arm, he can sink the ball, has a nice slider, he's at a single slot and we're trying to maintain that slot. The more he repeats out of that slot, the better his stuff gets. I like him.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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