WOODBRIDGE, Va. --- Left-handed relief pitcher Clayton Dill continues to progress with the Potomac Nationals. He was impressive in his relief appearance last week versus the Kinston Indians.
The 5'11" Dill hails from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and was a 35th round selection of the Nationals in 2008. He pitched for the GCL Nats as a rookie, Vermont and Hagerstown last season. Dill attended Arkansas-Little Rock and pitched at White Hall HS.
Dill notched three strikeouts Wednesday in two innings of relief, but allowed three hits, two runs (only one earned), and had to fight through an error by the first baseman in a game Kinston had already pretty much won, 7-0. It was only the third time in his last 10 outings he has allowed an earned run.
Last year, his best work came at Vermont where he had 42 strikeouts in 19 games with a 4-5 record and only 10 walks, a pretty good ERA at 3.07.
Dill on Wednesday's game: "It's tough in a game like this. Coming out of the pen, you expect to come into those tough situations. In the 9th, I had some unfortunate at-bats and gave up some hits. It was some tough baseball."
Clayton told me he has been getting success from his curve and change.
"I got a fastball, curveball and a changeup. My curveball and changeup have been pretty good here lately. I got two strikeouts in that first inning off the curveball. Even if I throw it in the dirt the first time, I like to back it up and throw it again because they will bite on it. The changeup was a little off for me tonight. I have to make sure I keep it out front and throw it just like the fastball."
Dill told me what pitching coach Paul Menhart emphasizes with the young lefty.
"Mainly consistency for me. I have a little bit of trouble with location. We work day in and day out with towel drills and other stuff just trying to make my command a little bit better as the season goes on."
Menhart told me that Dill has "a durable arm and a good feel for the changeup. Dill spins the curveball well and loves to pitch."
Even in a 7-0 game, Dill relishes the opportunity to pitch.
"As a reliever you are only going to get so many innings. As a reliever you have to go out there and throw like it's the last time out there. You have to have that same focus whether you are up by 10 or down by 10, tie ball game whatever. You have to have that killer instinct. Even if you have a bad outing you are going to throw again. You have to have that same intensity every time you go out."
On Tuesday, I am heading to Hagerstown, Md., to watch the Suns play in a doubleheader. Left-hander Daniel Rosenbaum is pitching the night game and I will report back how he is doing. The southpaw pitched for Xavier University and has not allowed an earned run in his last three starts, a span of 20 innings.
Also Sunday, College of Southern Nevada's coach Tim Chambers will give us an update from the JUCO World Series on the progress of Bryce Harper and the Coyotes after their opening game.