GCL right-handed pitcher Jason Stephens sits down with PinstripesPlus.com to offer up some insights…
Q&A with GCL Pitching Coach Gary Calhoun
Coach Calhoun: Boy, he's going to be a good one. He kind of reminds me of a right-handed version of Randy Johnson because of his size and how hard he throws. His fastball can touch 96 MPH or 97 MPH at times. He throws a cut-fastball, a changeup, and he really enjoys throwing his 2-seam fastball the most. But really, as good as his stuff is, it is in its infancy stage right now which gives you an idea of how good he could be eventually.
PinstripesPlus: It seems as if all of your pitchers threw the same pitches. Fastball, curveball, and changeup. Is putting the slider on the shelf for now a Coach Calhoun practice or more of an organizational philosophy?
Coach Calhoun: It is definitely an organizational developmental philosophy. When the guys are so young at that level, you want to help them develop. We want our guys working on throwing their fastballs, 4-seamers, to help build up arm strength and work on their location. The next pitch we have them working on is their changeup. We want pitchers to build off of their changeup and fastball.
PinstripesPlus: What are your impressions of Jason Stephens?
Coach Calhoun: Sometimes, I think he's smarter than I am. He's a great kid that always has positive comments for the coaches and his teammates. I wasn't around two years ago but apparently his velocity was up this past season on all four of his pitches. He likes his curveball a lot and is able to throw it at two speeds. When he is locked in, he was just great. He has the same approach to pitching as Mike Mussina and I wish the best for that kid. If there's one thing he needs to work on it is his movement with his pitches.
PinstripesPlus: What do you think of Christian Garcia?
Coach Calhoun: He is certainly one unique guy. He's a trip. Christian has that Miami or California attitude. Like Nelson, his pitching is still in its infancy stage which is really a scary thought. His breaking ball is as good as I've ever seen. His curveball has an unbelievable break and there are not that many curveballs like his in the Big Leagues right now. He throws it with good velocity. His pitch selection is what is going to move him along. If he gets good control, watch out! In our first playoff game last year against the Red Sox, I watched Christian walk the first three batters of the game. I wanted to take him out but Oscar Acosta wanted to leave him in to see how he responded. He wound up giving up just one run that inning and we won the game 7-1. It was pretty amazing.
PinstripesPlus: We realize he didn't pitch much down there this past season but what can you tell us about Philip Hughes?
Coach Calhoun: I can say this, he would have dominated last year had he pitched. The kid is like 18 years old and he throws strikes now. He has great command and he's going to be one to watch.
PinstripesPlus: Coach, can you tell us who in your opinion might have the stuff to be a closer down the road? Of the relievers that pitched for you this season.
Coach Calhoun: It's tough to get a read on the relievers in the GCL because of the piggy-backing situation. I mean, most of the innings are eaten by eight guys or so. The relievers get the short end of the stick unfortunately and I felt sorry for them because they couldn't get in the games as much. I'd say Marvin Moscat was the most consistent out of the bullpen all summer. He's around 92 MPH and he throws strikes. I know we tried him in a piggy-back situation and he just didn't do well in that role. Toni Lara was a guy that did well in both roles, as a starter and a reliever. Jose Tadeo probably would have been our closer had we really needed one but he had bouts with tendonitis. He's a 3/4 guy with a really good slider.
PinstripesPlus: Were there any other relievers that you were impressed with?
Coach Calhoun: Wilton Sevilla has the makeup of a closer. He's another 3/4 guy that has excellent movement with his 2-seamer. Dane de La Rosa was another good guy for me. He was rehabbing from back surgery and by the end of the year he was working extremely hard out of the bullpen. Honestly though, now that I look back at the season we had, I've never seen a team throw strikes like these kids threw last year. They were just throwing strike after strike, after strike. Throw in the walks and hits per innings pitched ratio was unbelievable, you can see why we did well last year.
PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank GCL Pitching Coach Gary Calhoun for taking the time to answer our questions.