Graham Stoneburner, who is 5-4 with a on the season with a 2.38 ERA, has done a great job keeping runners off base. He has 64 strikeouts to only 16 walks, and opponents are hitting just .178 against him.
"I try and attack hitters…just go right after them and not get behind in counts," Stoneburner said. "If somebody gets on base, they're going to hit their way on.
"Anytime you get ahead in the count, it's going to swing the advantage in the pitcher's favor. I just try to throw a lot of strikes and hope that if they hit, they hit it right at someone, or don't hit it very hard."
Controlling the strike zone has been important to Stoneburner's success. He usually leads off the count with his fastball, like most hard-throwing pitchers. His fastball usually ranges between 90-95 mph, though on a good day, he said, it might be a little faster.
"I just sort of mess with fastballs," he said. "I mix in some secondary stuff here and there to keep hitters off balance. It's about just coming at guys.
"I try to locate it well, and not leave it over the middle of the plate. I also try to work in down in the zone, so if they hit it, more times than not, it's going to be a ground ball."
He said he has made strides in the development of his changeup and his slider as well. That has given him more room to work with when attacking batters.
"They're both coming along very well," he said. "I've worked on my changeup pretty hard for the last month or so and the last couple times out its felt really good. I'm a lot more comfortable with it."
Keeping a consistent delivery and establishing more command, Stoneburner said, are two areas that he has worked on a great deal since joining the Tampa Yankees in 2010.
"Repeating my delivery and staying on top of my pitches—That's been the biggest thing for me, is to stay directional toward home plate," he said. "If I do that, my slider, fastball and changeup are going to be better. The way I think is you want all pitches to move down, at a downward angle. So, staying through the ball is important."
It's evident that Stoneburner's command has gotten better. Through twelve starts, he has a WHIP of 0.87. He had not walked more than one batter in each of his previous eight starts prior to Saturday's game in Palm Beach.
"I just try and execute one pitch at a time and also, throughout the game, work on the stuff that I need to improve upon. I've been fortunate so far this year."
Stoneburner has applied everything he's learned and it has paid off so far. During a stretch that lasted from May 29 to June 23, he did not allow an earned run in 27 straight innings. Over that span, in which he made four starts, he gave up only two walks and struck out 20. With that being said, he almost always gives his team a solid chance to win.
"It's been a good experience so far," Stoneburner said. "We have a really good team here and that makes the experience even better. Playing with such good athletes and other good players, I think, brings your game to a higher level also."
Stoneburner has established himself as one of the most consistent arms in the Tampa Yankees rotation and while he has enjoyed great success and put up some strong numbers, he said the statistics aren't what matter.
"I just hope I can improve upon my delivery and just become more consistent with my pitching repertoire," he said. "I don't really have a specific goal in mind; I just look to improve daily. You can't really look at the big picture."
Stoneburner Already Consistent
Pinstripes Plus Top Stories
Yankees Prospect Power RankingsHere are the top 20 performances by the Yankees' prospects in the long-season leagues. This is our second installment of the Power Rankings for the 2017 season.
Pinstripes PlusYesterday at 8:56 PM
Five Needing Breakout SeasonsEvery prospect heads into a new season each year hoping for one but five Yankee prospects in particular really need to have a breakout season in 2017.
Pinstripes PlusSunday at 8:56 PM
Wotherspoon Heading In The Right DirectionTRENTON, NJ -- Matt Wotherspoon had one of the truly underrated seasons last year, posting a combined 2.50 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A and holding opposing batters to a…
Pinstripes PlusSaturday at 8:49 PM
Amburgey Getting Back Into Swing Of ThingsTAMPA, FL -- Trey Amburgey, who missed over two months of his first full season last year, is making good progress after an injury during the 2016 season and says he worked hard in…
Pinstripes PlusWednesday at 8:57 PM