Schmidt Better The Second Time Around

Schmidt is more comfortable with his mechanics

After having one of the more historic seasons in NY-Penn League history in 2005, Josh Schmidt had a down year last season after skipping the low-A level entirely. Now in his second tour of duty in the Florida State League, he looks to be back to his old form. He seems to have gained better control of his pitches than in 2006 and he credits his success to his improved mechanics.

"Obviously, last year was a step up than the previous year in Staten Island," Josh Schmidt said. "I definitely ran into tougher competition and much better hitters who had a lot more discipline."

"But I also feel better mechanically this year and I really felt like I wasn't [comfortable] last year. I was always working on something in my mechanics. But I feel pretty good and I have been working really hard on some things and tinkering with them, but overall I feel really good."

In 2006, Schmidt posted a 4.24 ERA is 39 appearances with Tampa. He himself may have thought that he had a bad season, especially coming off of a dominating performance in Staten Island where he posted a ridiculous 0.27 ERA and gave up just 14 hits in 26 games, but according to his pitching coach that just was not the case.

"I thought he had a good year last year," pitching Coach Greg Pavlik said. "A lot of people thought he didn't have a good year but he had a couple of games where he would get into a rut and all pitchers will do that."

"When he had a bad game it was a bad game. It wasn't like one or two runs; he would give up three or four runs. When you come out of the bullpen and don't get a lot of innings like a starter does, one bad outing will balloon your ERA pretty quick."

"But I really thought he did a pretty last year and he's doing an even better job for us this year."

There was some speculation that Schmidt would have to lower his arm slot to give him better control this year, but that was something that he chose not to do.

"I don't think he lowered his arm slot," said Coach Pavlik. "I know they were talking about him lowering it further that it is and he didn't want to do it. He's kept it pretty much the same as far as I noticed."

Schmidt's control problems seemed to plague him a bit more when there are men on base. His mechanics are not nearly as good when he is pitching out of the stretch, which is something he has worked hard to fix.

"I've been working on my mechanics when I throw out of the stretch," Schmidt admitted. "I have always had mechanical problems when pitching out of the stretch and I would not be able to find the plate."

"I think I always got away with it since I have a pretty good breaking ball but when you get to this level you can't really get away with things anymore."

In Schmidt's last 10 appearances, a span of 22 innings, he has struck out 31 batters and walked only six. His better command has just been a matter of consistency with his mechanics.

"I think it is just because I have more consistent mechanics from last year," he said. "I came in last year and they were really bad and I had to work on a lot of things all the time. This year I have been a lot more consistent."

Schmidt has seen his strikeout numbers increase from a year ago, even surpassing his 2005 punchout rate and already on pace to shatter his 2006 total. He had 66 strikeouts in 39 appearances in 2006 and so far has 67 strikeouts in 26 games in 2007.

"I'm just throwing better pitches," Schmidt said when asked why his strikeout numbers have increased. "I have a lot better control this year and that is the main reason."

"I'm not missing over the middle of the plate and I'm not missing off the plate either. I'm actually hitting the corners instead of missing all over the place."

"Last year I had trouble. I didn't always know where the baseball was going so I just tried to throw strikes. I had to throw strikes and I just hoped the movement would get groundballs for me. This year I can spot the ball a lot better."

Schmidt is known to have a devastating slider. It is a wicked pitch that he often uses as his out pitch. According to him, his slider has never given him any trouble in the past, but his changeup has.

"The slider has been working for me, it pretty much always has in the past," he revealed. "It is pretty much been my go-to pitch for a while. I definitely wanted to come back this year with a better changeup that was a lot more consistent and it has been working well for me."

Coach Pavlik has been watching Schmidt and the progress he has made this season, and he thinks that it has been the slider that has made him the most effective.

"His slider has been great this year," Pavlik said. "It comes right at hitters and a lot of times guys will give a little bit, where he will throw it down the middle and it looks like a strike and hitters end up swinging at it off the plate."

His changeup has also been incredibly effective and his improved mechanics has made it a pitch that he can depend on when he is down in the count.

"I really feel a lot stronger mechanically right now and I think its helping a lot with the changeup. My mechanics are allowing me to throw it for strikes where I want to and I feel like I can throw it for strikes at any time, in any count."

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