Advanced Single-A Potomac Nationals righthander Paul Demny finally got credit for his outstanding pitching in a game where he gave up four runs. But a win is a win, and his resume from the first seven weeks has been an impressive one.
The East Bernard, Texas, native went six innings and allowed four runs on two homers with six strikeouts and two walks in a 10-4 victory at Winston-Salem.
The 21-year-old, a 2008 sixth-round selection out of Blinn Junior College, saw his ERA climb to only 2.94 because in his previous five starts he had surrendered just seven earned runs. He had not been credited with a win to date due to a lack of run support. The offense paid him back big time Wednesday with 10 runs on nine hits.
Last season, Demny was 6-10 with a 4.23 ERA in 27 starts for the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns. Demny said the drop in ERA has been because of his new mental approach to the game.
“I have just been simplifying everything, looking for strike one and going from there,” Demny said. “I throw mainly fastballs and change-ups. I will mix in a slider to get a strike one to surprise them. I have actually been working on command on my slider a little bit because it has been varying from time to time.”
Demny said the main difference for him from last season is his command. He can feel the difference now.
“It was great one day and terrible the next (last year),” Demny said. “This time, I am not going out there and (throwing) too hard. I am just trying to recreate the same stuff each start. am just trying to repeat.”
Demny let us in on his strategy for getting guys out and how he prepares for each batter. He has been nearly lights out against left-handed hitters, pitching to a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings.
“I throw cutters to righties and two-seamers to lefties,” Demny said. “I usually can stay away or go in whenever I want to right now, which is nice.”
Demny said another reason for his early success has been the precision of catcher Sandy Leon behind the plate.
“Sandy is phenomenal,” Demny said. “He can throw out anybody, anywhere on the field, if they are running. He calls a great game. Every pitcher on this staff is lucky to have him back there.”
Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart said the difference this season for Demny has been his ability to make mechanical adjustments.
“Demny has really made a major effort in trying to get better in all areas,” Menhart said. “It is a testament to him. I have told you this in the past that (Paul) has a wayward mind at times. He is an overthinker. But he has simplified it. I have been very pleased. The lines to the plate have improved. The mentality and the fight is in there. He has got above-average stuff, he really does.”
Demny feels Menhart has made a big difference in his approach to each start.
“Paul (Menhart) has helped me calm down on the mound,” Demny said. “I am not overanalyzing. I just go out there and pitch. He keeps me relaxed. We work on stuff every day. It is showing. I feel miles ahead of where I was last year on the mound. I feel comfortable and relaxed.”