LAKE BUEVA VISTA, Fla. - If the Orioles new pitching coach, Dave Wallace and new bullpen coach Dom Chiti can get more out of some of the club’s young pitchers in 2014, they will have proven to be great additions to the O’s coaching staff.
Any O’s fan can recite a long list of former pitching prospects that never lived up to the hype, or had just a brief amount of major league success.
The O’s need more young pitchers to turn the corner like Chris Tillman, and Wallace and Chiti hope to help some of the current youthful group do just that.
Their first in-person look at some pitchers will come during the team’s pitching mini-camp Jan. 13-17 in Sarasota. The club will have a group of 15-20 pitchers head south for that camp. The final list of those coming is not complete, but it cannot include any arbitration eligible pitchers.
Wallace has been the club’s pitching coach since Oct. 29. Since then, he has taken time to touch base with some pitchers and take a closer look at his projected 2014 staff.
“I’ve learned that there is some talent that has yet to be tapped,” Wallace said this afternoon. “In today’s world, a lot of guys have to learn at the major league level. That is more difficult than it sounds. Because you are trying to compete on a winning ballclub and learn what it takes to pitch in the majors.
“In the majors, the concentration level and intensity is so much different from anything they’ve ever faced. Sometimes it takes a guy a year, sometimes it takes three years. Everyone has a different rate of maturation. We have to find out where our guys are in that process.”
Wallace has a reputation for helping young pitchers in his time as a big league pitching coach and for the last four seasons as Atlanta’s minor league pitching coordinator.
What is the key to helping young pitchers?
“What works, in today’s world with these young players, is when you embrace them and engage them and make them part of the process,” Wallace said. “Ask them what is their take on this, why maybe have you struggled to throw strikes? Why have you struggled to throw a third or fourth pitch? Who helped you in the past? Was it your college coach or a former pitching coach?
“We don’t care where it comes from. But I think once they learn to trust us, they don’t care about how much you know. They want to know how much you care about them and want to make them better. It sounds simple, but everyone has a different rate of how they mature and go about it. Some we may get to know in a month or a couple days. Some we may not get to know until July. We have to let them know we’re here for them.”
Manager Buck Showalter said the O’s young pitchers are getting a do-over here, a fresh start with two new coaches.
“I want Dom and Dave to come in with fresh opinions or whatever,” Showalter said. “I don’t want to prejudice them any. I want all these pitchers to know they’ve got a fresh start. I think that creates for a pretty good mindset coming in.”