Young Pitchers Impress in Live BP
It’s been a little over two years since D-backs minor league closer Daniel Stange hurt his throwing elbow, so he’s in full health now, and showing it in Tucson.
Stange is one of the hardest throwers in big league camp this season, and he was one of several pitchers throwing in the second wave of live batting practice sessions this week. While he’s looked good, he — and everyone else, frankly — is nowhere close to full velocity yet.
“The thing I’m concerned about the least this early in camp is the velocity,” Manager A.J. Hinch said.
Stange said his main focus has been on command.
“(Live BP) went OK,” Stange said. “I wasn’t too happy with the offspeed stuff, but fastball command, I thought, was good. It’s my first big league Spring Training, so it’s kind of new to me. But the first thing I want is to be able to command both sides of the plate with the fastball.”
Hinch has been impressed with the right hander so far in his bullpen sessions.
“His arm strength has been really good in camp and his arm speed looks like its come back,” Hinch said. “Mechanically, I like where he is not as long in the back and is not dragging his arm like he was the year after operation. Everybody says that after a full year off recovery, it starts to tick back to where it was before.”
Another right-hander worth getting a look at in camp is Roque Mercedes, who the D-backs acquired in a trade last year with Milwaukee along with outfielder Cole Gillespie. Mercedes is tall, and actually looks even bigger than his 6-3 height listing.
Hinch said hitters commented that Mercedes’ pitches were darting to both sides of the plate.
“He’s got a great pitcher’s body and the ball comes out nicely,” Hinch said. “I think with a lot of these young pitchers, when they get in these live BP sessions, they tend to ease off a little bit to make sure they’re throwing strikes. I felt like he certainly was under control. You try to preach to these guys, ‘Don’t go too fast; don’t overthrow it.’
“He’s got a nice, simple delivery and pretty lively stuff. Today he was cutting and sinking and doing a little of everything. He’s made a nice impression. He’s got plenty of weapons to work with.”
In general, Hinch said he’s very pleased with the way practices have gone in the first week.
“I can’t tell you how nice it is to have an entire camp come in in shape,” Hinch said. “They’ve come all in good baseball shape. There is a certain aspect of Spring Training where no matter what you do, you’re going to go through a miserable soreness. But I feel like we’re ahead of the curve a little bit based on what these guys did in the offseason.”