Veras holding lefties to a .067 batting average
The ability to call yourself a professional baseball player as a 17-year old is as surreal as it gets. It is hard to believe Columbus Clippers reliever Jose Veras, 25, is beginning his ninth season at this young of an age. Veras, signed as a minor league free agent on January 6th, hopes to make an immediate impact within the Yankee organization.
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Last season, Jose Veras pitched in the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Oklahoma, the minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers. He earned his first professional save with Oklahoma as he went 1 2/3 innings, surrendering two hits while striking out two. Veras posted a 3.79 ERA and finished third in the PCL with a career-high 24 saves and second with a career high 57 appearances.
Veras, without question, is one of the youngest veterans in the game today, which presents tremendous upside. Poised with leadership qualities as well as a live arm, it is a necessity that Veras put up consistent performances on the mound to earn the right to wear pinstripes. With the knowledge of having played minor league baseball for nearly a decade, improvement remains a constant focus.
Veras told PinstripesPlus.com, “We’ve been working on my mechanics to stay closed because sometimes my glove becomes high over my shoulder and that work has let me throw more strikes in the zone and to get ahead in the count.”
Veras throws a repertoire of pitches including a fastball, curveball, splitter along with an occasional changeup. These pitches have the potential to be extremely effective on any level. While he can locate any of these pitches within the zone, the fastball continues to be his bread and butter. The ability to throw an effective fastball enables his off-speed pithes to appear quite deceiving. Veras approaches the game as a closer with a different mentality, as the fastball and breaking ball are his main focus while mixing in a splitter.
How far is Jose Veras from gracing a Major League uniform on a consistent basis? It may be quite premature to tell, however, he is willing to go above and beyond to reach his pinnacle of joining the Yankees.
Veras reiterates that there is absolutely no rush and he is perfectly content with pitching in Columbus until the time is right. It seems as if quality relief pitchers are few in far between at any professional level. If Veras plays his cards right, he could become a very nice surprise in the eyes of Yankee general manager Brian Cashman.
“I’m going to be patient, do my job and when the chance comes, thank you, and if not I will still be working,” said Veras.
Clippers pitching coach Neil Allen believes consistency is currently the key component concerning the right-hander.
“He just needs to be consistent," said Allen. "Just throw the ball and do what you’re capable of doing. When he starts to overthrow, that’s when he gets in trouble. He has a live fastball and great stuff."
It is only natural to express a feeling of doubt when a player has lasted nearly a decade in the minor leagues without the benefit of a Major League appearance. Veras refuses to let the thought of doubt strike his mind as it is just an additional obstacle in his fight to reach the big leagues.
“I continue to work on becoming a better pitcher so that maybe I will open the eyes of somebody sitting in the stands. If I have to be in Columbus I am going to be patient,” said Veras.
As a minor league pitcher, finding your niche within the organization is crucial to say the least. With the experience of both a starter and a reliever, Veras may find himself in a role that is somewhat inconsistent. He could fill the void of a spot starter in the rotation as well as bridge the gap to Yankee closer Mariano Rivera in the occurrence of an injury. Veras will do anything necessary to play in the limelight and earn that significant pay raise.
“The Yankees have been helping me a lot, trying to get me to the next level and I feel comfortable in this role,” said Veras.
Clippers right-handed pitcher Scott Erickson expresses that Veras has made consistent strides in his game each and every time on the hill.
“He’s on his way," said Erickson. "It’s only one month under the belt, still a few games to go, but he’s looking good and he’s throwing the ball well right now."
For some, a pitcher’s progress can appear skewed with undesirable effects. A lackluster performance will not damage Veras’ status within the organization as long as they remain at a minimum. With Veras content on being patient, the stigma that comes with wearing pinstripes could very well become a foregone reality.
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