"It's been pretty good," Jason Jones said of his 2007 season so far. "I got that one bad outing out of the way pretty early [a May 8th start where he gave up nine earned runs in four innings against Portland]. I've just been working a lot with Scott [Aldred] this year. It's finally coming together and I'm pretty confident right now. My mechanics are really good and I'm just trying to make pitches."
Ranking fourth in the Eastern League this year in ERA [2.70] and WHIP ratio [1.11], he is 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA in his last eight games, which is a huge turnaround from his time in Trenton last season where he posted a 4.83 ERA in ten appearances.
"Confidence is a big thing," he said the biggest difference between this season and last. "I think having that year last year and getting up here [Trenton] last year and getting kind of a head's up on the hitters - it's definitely a jump from A-ball to Double-A."
"Just learning how to pitch and learning how to use the stuff that I have to get guys out, it's been a big difference. It's just executing this year, executing the pitches."
A pitcher built more to pitch to contact, Yankees' Minor League Pitching Coordinator Nardi Contreras realized last year that Jones needed a strikeout pitch so he and his staff took away his curveball in order to work on a splitter, a tactic that Jones says has made a big difference for him this season.
"It's been a huge pitch for me this year," Jones said of the addition of a splitter to his repertoire. "It's definitely an out-pitch. I think it compliments and makes my fastball a lot better."
"I just recently started throwing my curveball again, the last time Nardi was here. The split has definitely been my go-to pitch this year. I have a lot of confidence in it and it was something I was working on a lot last year. When you have confidence in it, it makes a big difference."
Also aiding his confidence this year has been a resurrection of sorts with his velocity. Admittedly throwing a bit slower last season, sitting mostly in the mid-80's, in order to further improve his command, Jones realizes he was trying to be a bit too fine in his location in 2006.
"The velocity is up," he revealed. "I came up here last year and tried to take off movement and tried to pitch around contact. That's something I've been working on a lot this year with Scott. He has been talking to me a lot about just going after guys. Making a good pitch with your fastball is better than trying to spot up your sinker or something."
"I just threw a lot of sinkers last year where now I'm throwing both four-seamers and sinkers. The velocity has been good. There's been a few games where I know I've hit 91 MPH."
"I still want to keep working on that. I know that there's more in there. I still threw harder before. There's still some little mechanical things that I'm working on just to get a little more, but for the most part it has been good."
Throwing a bit harder, incorporating a new swing-and-miss pitch with his splitter, and recently bringing back his quality curveball, have all combined to give the former fourth round pick a renewed confidence on the mound and the results have been quite noticeable - and he has no plans on making any changes.
"Just challenging hitters," Jones said of his plan for the remainder of 2007. "I know my command is good enough that I can make pitches, but it's challenging guys and not trying to pick at the zone, not falling behind in counts, just keeping the ball down, and making quality pitches. That's my biggest thing, not to pick, not to try and miss contact."
"Let them hit the ball on the ground, that's fine. That's what I've been doing so far and that's what I've been concentrating on, especially as of late, and I want to continue doing that the rest of the season," he concluded.
Jones Pitching With Confidence
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