Paullus Still Tinkering

Lefties are batting .118 against Paullus

Reliever Robert Paullus has had a very solid professional debut season with the Staten Island Yankees this year, striking out 41 batters in a little more than 30 innings pitched and holding opposing batters to a .186 average. However, while those numbers have been impressive, the fact is he is still tinkering with his entire repertoire.

As the Staten Island Yankees get ready for the postseason, all the pieces are getting put into place to ensure the team is prepared to chase the championship. Holding the best record in the Penn League, thanks to an impressive offensive lineup and a stellar rotation, the Yankees are fixing to make some noise this postseason.

Not as much news has been made by the equally impressive Yankees bullpen but the Staten Island relievers have ensured the team the record they have worked so hard for.

One of these indispensable pieces is Robert Paullus, a 19th Round Draft pick from 2011 out of the University of Memphis and the young pitcher has been ready since day one, especially since he signed with his favorite team.

"The Yankees are my favorite team so I was pretty excited when it happened," he said of being drafted. "I knew I wanted to sign so I really didn't have any issues with that. I spent about four days in Tampa before the signing doing physicals."

Many young players can struggle with the transition to pro ball, but Paullus says it hasn't been tough, acknowledging his new career as a professional baseball player.

"It's been an awesome transition. It's fun coming out here everyday and working on your stuff. Now it's my job so it's good to come out here and put in the work. That's the biggest difference is knowing that I'm coming out here eight hours a day as a job and putting in the work."

College players can sometimes get a leg up on the younger guys merely through experience and Paullus is very aware of the advantage of playing college ball.

"It definitely prepared me better. Out of high school I thought it was all physical but now I know better and the mental game wasn't there yet," Paullus said. "College ball lets you go through the struggles. It's a tougher game so you have to be able to accept failure and college ball helps you handle that."

This season it has been all fastball and curve for the 22 year-old, but the two pitches he relies on are still going through some changes. He is still working on fastball command and location.

"My fastball command has been getting better," he opined. "I threw more of a two seam in college and now it's a four seam so we've been getting that to where it needs to be."

Along with that, his curveball has been going through some mechanical adjustments, but only minor tweaks to the pitch.

"We're fine-tuning my mechanics on the curve and now it's helping a lot. There hasn't been any change in the grip or anything like that. Nothing has really changed drastically, just direction-wise and mechanics overall."

This is not to imply that Paullus hasn't earned his spot as a very reliable arm in the bullpen. The Yankees are even working on adding a changeup to the repertoire.

Yankees Pitching Coach Jose Rosado is working with Paullus on bringing it into games slowly but surely.

"Paullus has been practicing with it as a third pitch and adding another offspeed ball," said Rosado. "He's got a pretty good feel for it, but it's a third pitch so it's a work in progress."

The Mississippi native has been featuring it in games so far and thinks he isn't too far from being able to throw it consistently in games.

"I've been working on the changeup and throwing it a little but it's a work in progress and is getting better," Paullus said. "It's something we're definitely working on. It's slowly coming into the game and hopefully pretty soon I'll be able to throw it consistently."

One could find a little bump in the road when Paullus faces righties and while he mows down southpaws to the tune of a [0.75] ERA, righties have got him up to a 5.89 ERA. Paullus thinks this will all work itself out over time.

"I think it's just everything being still in progress with the four-seam and curve," he said. "I don't get as much movement with the four-seam so there's a little issue there. Sometimes the arm angle will get a little off but it's getting a lot better."

But as the Yankees head into the playoffs pursuing the championship, Paullus will continue to be one of the arms called upon to help close out the game. Looking ahead, he sees the payoff coming soon.

"It's really just a matter of consistency at this point and getting my location pinned down. Location is my biggest thing and the rest of the work will come in the offseason," he concluded.

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