Photo courtesy of the Mobile BayBears
By Greg Dillard
Strikeout pitchers are often considered the most exciting in baseball, but left-hander Patrick Corbin would much rather induce a first-pitch ground out or receive an inning-ending double play.
In his third season in professional baseball, the southpaw has realized the advantages of pitching deep into ballgames.
As a member of Double-A Mobile’s starting rotation, Corbin owns an 8-7 record and 4.12 ERA in 23 starts. The 22 year-old left-hander has thrown 142 innings, as well. During his last 10 starts, Corbin has pitched five or more innings nine times.
“Pat’s been as consistent as any of our pitchers,” Director of Player Development Mike Bell said. “It’s almost like he’s flown under the radar a little bit with some of our big-time prospects. He should be in that conversation, as well.”
Corbin has in fact been one of Arizona’s most consistent Minor League pitchers, which is something he attributes to pounding the strike zone.
“Throwing strikes is a big thing in my game,” Corbin said. “If I throw strikes, attack the hitters and eat up innings, that’s what I like to do as a starter.”
After a strong 2010 campaign, Corbin has taken it to the next level by throwing several noteworthy performances with the BayBears.
On July 6, the New York native tossed a complete game shutout against Birmingham. He surrendered just three hits while striking out eight. He faced off against the Barons three starts later on July 23 and did not allow a run in his seven innings of work. In his most recent start on August 16, Corbin lasted six innings and held Jacksonville to just two runs on eight hits.
He’s been named Southern League Pitcher of the Week on three occasions already this season and was also recognized as a Midseason All-Star for his efforts.
Corbin’s ability to go past the fifth or sixth inning has re- lied heavily on pitch count. Pitching to contact has subsequently allowed him to limit his tosses and boost his total innings.
“I’ve been pitching to contact a lot lately and the strike- outs come,” Corbin said. “Going deeper into ballgames is what they’re looking for in a starter. I’m trying to learn the role of the bullpen, too. Knowing their situation if I’m going out there and pitching six or seven innings is a lot easieron them.”
Corbin advanced to Mobile this season after splitting 2010 between Single-A Cedar Rapids, High-A Rancho Cucamonga and the D-backs’ High-A affiliate Visalia. He joined the Rawhide after being traded from the Angels in late July. Despite the transitions, he still managed to earn a 13-4 record and 3.42 ERA between the three teams.
Although he tries to be efficient with his overall pitch count, the left- hander still K’s plenty of opposing hitters. Through 23 starts, Corbin has struck out 126 batters after collecting a career-high 136 strikeouts a season ago.
“I’m actually kind of surprised with the strikeouts that I’ve been getting,” Corbin said. “I thought I’d be more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher and get those early outs. I’ve been trying to practice keeping my walks down. I’d rather give up a
single and let them earn their way on than walk.”
The transition from Single-A to the next level has been somewhat of an adjustment period for Corbin. He continues to learn opposing hitters and their tendencies at the Double-A level.
“I feel like this year I’ve learned from our pitching coaches here,” Corbin said. “Lately, I’ve been figuring out more about Double-A ball and figuring out what I can and can’t do and what’s going to help me move to the next level.”