Q&A with Nardi Contreras - Part VI

Nardi Contreras, the Yankees Minor League Pitching Coordinator, sits down with PinstripesPlus.com for a long Q&A session. In our final section of our multi-part series, Nardi lets us know if Steven White is a bullpen option, how Kevin Whelan turned his season around, if he saw Anthony Claggett make some improvements, if Wilkins De La Rosa developed his secondary pitches, and more.

PinstripesPlus: Nick Chigges had some pretty good numbers in Staten Island this year but he's not exactly a power arm. What did you see from him development-wise and is this a guy who we should be looking out for next season?

Contreras: Nick Chigges did a great job for us, both as a starter and a reliever. He's a sinkerball, slider, curveball, changeup pitcher, so he uses all four of his pitches to get people out. Because he wasn't blessed with a great arm when it comes to power, he really needs to be in command. He's a pitch-ability pitcher and with that pitch-ability there has always been success. That's what we're hoping for Nick Chigges, his pitch-ability and the command of his pitches and the quality of his pitches will get him farther along and closer to the big leagues.

PinstripesPlus: It was Wilkins De La Rosa's first year on the mound and we all know he has that powerful arm. Were you happy with the development of his other pitches this year? Did he take to it pretty quickly?

Contreras: Yes De La Rosa did a tremendous job. He grasped every facet when it comes to pitching. He's got power coming from that left arm, he's developed a slider, and he's developed a changeup. All he needs now are innings. We kind of took care of his arm coming from outfield to pitcher. We didn't want to overuse him, the same thing we did with Mike Dunn last year. This [coming] year he's going to be able to pitch in more games and in more innings and I see a lot of success coming from Wilkins De La Rosa.

PinstripesPlus: Anthony Claggett didn't have the great year this year that he had a year ago in the Detroit Tigers farm system. He got off to a rough start but seemed to have turned the corner mid-season. Did you see that as well?

Contreras: Anthony Claggett did a great job. It took him a little longer at the beginning to get his delivery and the release point of his pitches. I believe with the Detroit Tigers he was a closer where he'd come in and pitch an inning or an inning and a third, so the development part at the beginning was a little hard for him. Once we put him in the starting rotation we were able to work in between his starts, into the dry-work, into his side work, the things we do in between to get these guys to get better as long as they are putting the work into it. We kind of make them get their work in between these outings. Once that happened to started to gel, he found his delivery, he found his release point, his pitches became very quality, he developed a changeup, and he's going to be going to Hawaii.

PinstripesPlus: Kevin Whelan had some issues with walks in the first-half of the season but seemed to get over it in the second-half. What did you see from him towards the end of the year and did he overcome his command issues?

Contreras: Kevin Whelan did a great job in coming back from pitching in Tampa. He got his delivery down where he was able to control his pitches. Once he got back up to Double-A in his first outing, it was a bad outing. After that he put up some great numbers and helped our club in the final run for their championship. He developed his slider and controlled his fastball, that was the main part of it. He had a lot of walks to start off the season and he learned the delivery. He just got better and better, started putting up some great numbers in Tampa, and it all worked out for him after that first outing in Trenton. He was almost untouchable.

PinstripesPlus: Steven White had a solid season this year and yet nobody ever really talks about him. With the big league rotation getting a bit crowded, is he an option for the bullpen sometime soon?

Contreras: I'm not so sure he's a candidate to move to the bullpen, but I do believe he's got a chance to pitch in the big leagues next year. He really got so much better in every facet of his game; holding runners, pitching to location, the quality of his pitches. Anything you can think about with Steven White in getting better, he did. The confidence level he did get as he got more into the season and pitched better was outstanding and I see great things for Steven White in the future.

PinstripesPlus: Well with all the rookie pitchers you had up this year and with several more like White and others coming up soon, and considering it seems these rookie pitchers have a hard time continuing to work on their mechanics, is there something the big league coaches can do to keep them in check or is that just part of the learning curve for these young hurlers?

Contreras: No Ron Guidry and the staff in New York are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing. These young pitchers need to learn how to do things on their own, that's part of becoming a professional big league pitcher. The successes the organization is having starts from the top, ownership and management providing the funds and trust in the department heads to find and develop players. The scouting departments, national and international, have provided us in player development a plethora of arms to work with.

Every major league organization has their own style of developing players. Here in the minor leagues our players are treated like as if they were still in their parents' household. They are explained and shown in detail deliveries, pitches, fundamentals, and so on. They are taught workouts and pitching routines that we hope stay with them through their journey to the major leagues, but what happens to these young pitchers when they get to the major leagues, they are in awe of their surroundings and stop doing what got them there.

Once at the major league level it's like they have left the roost of the household. The major league pitching coach Ron Guidry does a great job on the transition for these kids but as youngsters leave their home for the first time they forget the work routines that got them there. We here, myself and the pitching coaches, will have to do a better job in making sure they understand the importance of staying with their program.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus: Nick Chigges had some pretty good numbers in Staten Island this year but he's not exactly a power arm. What did you see from him development-wise and is this a guy who we should be looking out for next season?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: Nick Chigges did a great job for us, both as a starter and a reliever. He's a sinkerball, slider, curveball, changeup pitcher, so he uses all four of his pitches to get people out. Because he wasn't blessed with a great arm when it comes to power, he really needs to be in command. He's a pitch-ability pitcher and with that pitch-ability there has always been success. That's what we're hoping for Nick Chigges, his pitch-ability and the command of his pitches and the quality of his pitches will get him farther along and closer to the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: It was Wilkins De La Rosa's first year on the mound and we all know he has that powerful arm. Were you happy with the development of his other pitches this year? Did he take to it pretty quickly?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: Yes De La Rosa did a tremendous job. He grasped every facet when it comes to pitching. He's got power coming from that left arm, he's developed a slider, and he's developed a changeup. All he needs now are innings. We kind of took care of his arm coming from outfield to pitcher. We didn't want to overuse him, the same thing we did with Mike Dunn last year. This [coming] year he's going to be able to pitch in more games and in more innings and I see a lot of success coming from Wilkins De La Rosa.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Anthony Claggett didn't have the great year this year that he had a year ago in the Detroit Tigers farm system. He got off to a rough start but seemed to have turned the corner mid-season. Did you see that as well?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: Anthony Claggett did a great job. It took him a little longer at the beginning to get his delivery and the release point of his pitches. I believe with the Detroit Tigers he was a closer where he'd come in and pitch an inning or an inning and a third, so the development part at the beginning was a little hard for him. Once we put him in the starting rotation we were able to work in between his starts, into the dry-work, into his side work, the things we do in between to get these guys to get better as long as they are putting the work into it. We kind of make them get their work in between these outings. Once that happened to started to gel, he found his delivery, he found his release point, his pitches became very quality, he developed a changeup, and he's going to be going to Hawaii.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Kevin Whelan had some issues with walks in the first-half of the season but seemed to get over it in the second-half. What did you see from him towards the end of the year and did he overcome his command issues?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: Kevin Whelan did a great job in coming back from pitching in Tampa. He got his delivery down where he was able to control his pitches. Once he got back up to Double-A in his first outing, it was a bad outing. After that he put up some great numbers and helped our club in the final run for their championship. He developed his slider and controlled his fastball, that was the main part of it. He had a lot of walks to start off the season and he learned the delivery. He just got better and better, started putting up some great numbers in Tampa, and it all worked out for him after that first outing in Trenton. He was almost untouchable.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Steven White had a solid season this year and yet nobody ever really talks about him. With the big league rotation getting a bit crowded, is he an option for the bullpen sometime soon?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: I'm not so sure he's a candidate to move to the bullpen, but I do believe he's got a chance to pitch in the big leagues next year. He really got so much better in every facet of his game; holding runners, pitching to location, the quality of his pitches. Anything you can think about with Steven White in getting better, he did. The confidence level he did get as he got more into the season and pitched better was outstanding and I see great things for Steven White in the future.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Well with all the rookie pitchers you had up this year and with several more like White and others coming up soon, and considering it seems these rookie pitchers have a hard time continuing to work on their mechanics, is there something the big league coaches can do to keep them in check or is that just part of the learning curve for these young hurlers?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: No Ron Guidry and the staff in New York are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing. These young pitchers need to learn how to do things on their own, that's part of becoming a professional big league pitcher. The successes the organization is having starts from the top, ownership and management providing the funds and trust in the department heads to find and develop players. The scouting departments, national and international, have provided us in player development a plethora of arms to work with.
\r\n
\r\nEvery major league organization has their own style of developing players. Here in the minor leagues our players are treated like as if they were still in their parents' household. They are explained and shown in detail deliveries, pitches, fundamentals, and so on. They are taught workouts and pitching routines that we hope stay with them through their journey to the major leagues, but what happens to these young pitchers when they get to the major leagues, they are in awe of their surroundings and stop doing what got them there.
\r\n
\r\nOnce at the major league level it's like they have left the roost of the household. The major league pitching coach Ron Guidry does a great job on the transition for these kids but as youngsters leave their home for the first time they forget the work routines that got them there. We here, myself and the pitching coaches, will have to do a better job in making sure they understand the importance of staying with their program.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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