Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has been multi-tasking since that November day when he was hired by the club to replace Andy MacPhail. While trying to improve the 2012 Orioles he has also spent a lot of time working on improving the club’s future outlook.
That happens with some of the changes and hopefully, upgrades and improvement that Duquette wants to make in the O’s minors and player development starting this year.
“I think probably the most important thing is we are implementing an organizational-wide pitching program under Rick Peterson’s leadership,” Duquette said during an interview Wednesday. “He’s working on a starting pitcher development program, so that there’s a consistent and intelligent training program for all our starting pitchers. It includes long-toss and development of proper mental and emotional skills. It includes specific fitness levels and more efficient pitching deliveries.”
Peterson’s work is certainly not limited just to the minor league hurlers and Duquette believes some positive results have already been seen.
“We’ve already seen some improvement in our pitching at the major league level. We’ve put the same emphasis on a starting pitching program for the major league team. If you look at our walk-to-strikeout ratio so far, I understand it’s spring training, but our pitchers have thrown strikes and they’ve also shown the stuff to strike out opposing hitters. We’ve walked 43 and struck out 130 (before Wednesday’s game), so that’s a 1-to-3 ratio, which is good.”
At the minor league level, Peterson has been putting his program in place over the last few weeks in Sarasota.
“The fundamentals of winning pitching is having a good delivery, being able to throw strikes, getting ahead in the count, keeping the ball down in the zone, along with working fast and changing speeds. Those steps we are emphasizing throughout the organization. By consistently communicating those to the players and using video resources and drills we should see an improved pitching from top to bottom in the Oriole organization,” Duquette added.
Peterson has cited PitchFX stats in almost every interview I have done with him since his hire in January as the Orioles’ director of pitching development. He believes a delivery that can be consistently repeated will produce a release point that is consistent and that will lead to better results.
The Orioles have put several of their minor league pitchers through biomechanical analysis although they are not anxious to provide or disclose a list of which pitchers have gone through the analysis.
The bottom line to all of this is hopefully fewer injuries and better results and we can all agree that is a good thing.
Meanwhile, I asked Peterson how involved he plans to be, or is being asked to be, in setting the minor league rosters for pitchers at each affiliate.
“You know, because I don’t know these guys (before this year) and we have a huge staff here, I’ll have an opinion, but Dan and his staff will have a very strong opinion. It’s going to be a collective way that we look at everybody to make sure we have the right mix,” Peterson said.
“Especially talking about the younger, less experienced pitchers that may be some of your top prospects. The last thing that you want to do ... you want to put them in a place that is challenging, but also a challenge that they can handle.
“The last thing you want to do in player development for pitching is ... if you put them at a level and you ask yourself, ‘What are the chances that he can’t handle this level and will have to go backwards?’ If you think that there is a fairly good chance of that, then you are probably starting him too high. You don’t want your top priority guys going backwards. You want them to be able to handle that level and continually move forward,” he said.
Coming later today: I asked Duquette about where the top three O’s prospects - Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop - may begin their seasons this year. I’ll have a post with some of his comments on that this afternoon.
Coming soon: More with Peterson and his plans in implementing the Orioles’ pitching program.
More ring pics: O’s minor leaguer Jacob Julius wrote a blog with some good pictures of the Frederick Keys receiving their championship rings Sunday night at Ed Smith Stadium. Check it out here.