Maher On The Attack

Maher has given up just one run in two starts

TAMPA, FL - Now that it's the second go-around for Yankees prospect Joey Maher on the Gulf Coast League circuit, he's got a lot to prove.

The 20-year-old right handed pitcher had every inclination of joining the short season-A Staten Island squad to begin the year, but the organization decided it was best for him to continue working on his game in the GCL to start the 2013 season after Extended Spring Training.

"I had to get back to the basics with my mechanics and I struggled early on," Maher said of his offseason and Extended Spring Training.

Maher took the organization's decision to leave him with the GCL Yankees to start the season in stride.

"Coming into the season, I had high expectations just like a lot of us," Maher said. "But I started to be realistic and I'm not disappointed. I'm actually happy I get to work with the coaches on my game down here."

GCL Yankees pitching coach Jose Rosado is equally as pleased to work with Maher for a second year.

"He's really matured," Rosado said. "He's able to understand the game a lot better and he's a quick learner. I'm excited about what I see from him right now."

Maher, who the Yankees selected out of Bedford High School in New Hampshire in the 38th round in 2011, has spent a lot of time working on the mental side of his game after struggling with that aspect during the 2012 GCL season.

"I had to learn how to approach hitters with a mental aggressiveness," Maher said. "Instead of worrying about everything, I've just been attacking guys and taking it personal."

Coach Rosado has seen a definitive change in his young pitcher compared to last season.

"The newfound maturity and mound presence have been big pluses for him," Rosado said.

Another big plus for Maher has been the development of his curveball. A pitch that was non-existent for him coming out of high school and early last season is now becoming a plus pitch.

Maher received some pointers form long-time Major League pitcher David Aardsma, who took Maher under his wing and taught him a spike curveball grip that has paid huge dividends for the young pitcher.

"[The curveball] is so much better now than it was last year," Maher said. "Now I just need to work on throwing it for a strike when I need to."

But Coach Rosado, like a lot of coaches, still wants to see a little more consistency out of not just Maher's curveball, but the rest of his pitches as well.

"The curveball and changeup have been pretty good," Rosado said of Maher's repertoire. "But they could still get better and he's working through that."

Maher is well aware. He's already gone through plenty of growing pains in his short professional career.

"Sometimes I'll pitch well and then sometimes I'll have a couple hiccups," Maher said. "Baseball is all about being consistent.

"You're not going to always have your best stuff, but you still have to go out there and make it work for you."

Maher has been making it work just fine so far this GCL season. The 6-foot-5, 200 pound right-hander has allowed just one run on four hits in his eight innings of work in his first two starts of the season.

"My tempo has been a lot better," Maher said of the start to his season. "I'm not wasting a lot of time and I'm not giving a lot of batters a chance to get comfortable."

Maher might not want to get too comfortable in the GCL if he keeps pitching like this. A call-up to Staten Island might not be too far off on the horizon.

"I just want to be that number one guy on the list that's going to get moved up," Maher said. "That's my goal."

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