Nardi Contreras, the Yankees Minor League Pitching Coordinator, sits down with PinstripesPlus.com…
Chamberlain Building Confidence
With an insatiable desire to be the best and extremely coachable, Chamberlain instituted some changes to his game prior to venturing overseas and they have paid immediate dividends.
"Eliminating the hand movement and staying over the rubber," he said of some new things he is working on. "I'm balanced on my back side and not having to play catch-up with my arm."
"Just some mechanical things, getting over the rubber and staying over the rubber," he continued. "I'm just pitching to contact, trusting my fastball and pitching off of my fastball."
It's easy to trust your fastball when it's sitting in the mid-90's and topping out consistently around 97 MPH, especially when you throw them for strikes.
"It feels good," Chamberlain said of his mid-to-high 90's fastball. "It's nice not being in Nebraksa in 35 degrees trying to warm up and stay loose. Being out here where it's warm and staying loose, everything feels good. The mechanical changes that they've made have allowed me to stay more consistent with my velocity."
Chamberlain, who also boasts a 0.77 WHIP ratio and is striking out over eleven batters per nine innings in Hawaii, isn't all about the fastball either. He's become more confident and consistent with his changeup.
"I'm just working on more confidence in my changeup and just being able to throw it when I want to and not when it calls for it," he listed as another difference in his game.
Joba's stuff, and his performances in Hawaii, have caught the eye of his once former opponent and now current Yankee farmhand - Mark Melancon.
"Joba looks great, man," Melancon said emphatically. "He's solid. Everything he throws is for strikes, he's got good stuff, he throws hard, and he's a good competitor. I played against Joba in college. I had seen him and heard of him before [the Yankees]. I knew what type of guy he was and how he competes and gets after it. His velocity is real good right now. I didn't really expect that out of him, but yeah, I was definitely impressed."
Tossing five more scoreless innings of three-hit ball on Friday, it was the sixth time in eight games that he had allowed one earned run or less. Pitching with the highest level of confidence, he really didn't know what to expect when he was told he would be pitching in the Hawaiian Winter League.
"I had some expectations for myself, but going into it I knew there was going to be good talent out here," said Chamberlain. "If the Yankees didn't believe in me they wouldn't have sent me out here. When an organization like the Yankees sends me out here, it gives me the confidence in myself. To say that I expected it, maybe not so much, but to go out there and compete is all you can ask for."
Part of signing late and getting his feet wet in the professional game so far away from the Tampa complex is also adapting to his new teammates - Ian Kennedy, Jeff Marquez, Christian Garcia, and Mark Melancon. And not only is Chamberlain using his time in Hawaii to get to know his fellow Yankee prospects, he's using his time to learn from them as well.
"Each day that goes by you learn something new about each other," he admitted. "We didn't really know much about each other coming down here, but you spend so much time with each other that you become kind of like brothers. Those [Kennedy, Marquez, and Garcia] are three of my best friends now just from the time I've been able to spend with them."
"It's awesome to be able to sit and watch each other," he continued. "We can learn so much from watching each other and talking to each other about how you go about your business. Those guys are doing phenomenal out here and it's just awesome to watch somebody who is good at what they do, sit back and learn."
While most fans sit back and watch the dominating numbers being put up by the Yankees' supplemental first round pick, the fact is Chamberlain is still learning on the job and he confesses that he has already learned more about pitching in the pros in his six weeks in Hawaii than he bargained for.
"He's phenomenal," Chamberlain said of West Oahu and Charleston Riverdogs pitching coach Scott Aldred. "He breaks everything down. He is just very open and his communication is awesome. He tells you how it is. Whether it's good or bad, he's going to tell you. That's all you can ask for."
"He's done a great job and I've learned so much from him in just the six or eight weeks that I've been here that now I can go back and look at it and know that I had no idea what I was doing," he admitted.
Even though he went a combined 16-7 with a 3.29 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 208 innings for a storied college program like the University of Nebraska over the past two years, and despite being considered a potential top ten pick in the draft this past June, Chamberlain realizes he still has a lot to learn and he gets excited about his own potential after receiving some more professional coaching.
"It's awesome," he said when he sits back and thinks where his game could go after receiving some more professional coaching. "The best thing about it is you can take something from each guy. I've taken a lot from Scotty and a lot from Nardi [Contreras] in the short time I've had to work with him."
"Everyday you come to the park you get to learn something and with the guys that the Yankees have, you can't help but learn," he continued. "They know the game and they've been there. It just makes it that much easier for you to learn. It makes it easier for you to want to do well because these guys know so much and they pass it on to you."
Saying all the right things and genuinely open-minded to incorporating changes to his game, Chamberlain's dominant performance in Hawaii has built his confidence and it could be a springboard to his professional career with the New York Yankees.
"I think so," Chamberlain said if his performance in the Hawaiian Winter League boosts his confidence in preparation for his first Spring Training, "it does. It just eases that transition into pro ball. Not signing until late and going to Tampa for a couple of weeks before coming out here, it's going to make it that much easier of a transition for me going into my first full season."
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