Q&A with Scott Aldred

Aldred says Melancon's makeup stood out

We sat down with Trenton Thunder Pitching Coach Scott Aldred for a Q&A session to find out what he likes best about Jason Jones, if Mark Melancon met his expectations, what he's seen from Anthony Claggett, what Kevin Whelan needs to do going forward, which pitcher has made the most progress this season, and much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: Jason Jones has been lights out for much of the season, what have you seen out out of him?

Scott Aldred: He's just a complete pitcher. He throws a lot of strikes with all four of his pitches, changes speeds, limits base-runners, and he's having a really nice year. The splitter's also been a huge pitch for him this year that he maybe didn't have a year or two ago, a real nice year out of him.

PinstripesPlus: With Mark Melancon recently being promoted, did his performance in Trenton mesh with your expectations of him coming in?

Aldred. Yes. He's got a good arm and he just goes right at guys. He's got a good breaking pitch and a good fastball, he's a good ground ball guy. The changeup is really starting to come on as of the last month or so it's turned into a nice pitch for him.

PinstripesPlus: Scouts have always raved about Melancon's makeup, is that something that stood out to you while he was here?

Aldred. Oh yea. I mean he's focused, his work ethic is great and everything you can ask for he's got it.

PinstripesPlus: Anthony Claggett has been near-unhittable. What is it that makes him so effective out of the bullpen?

Aldred. He can pitch effectively with his fastball because it's got some movement, he's a good ground ball guy, the changeup's coming and I'd like to see him pitch with a little more confidence with the change. Also, the plus slider. It's just a matter of getting more reps from him but he does a nice job.

PinstripesPlus: After having a tough first month or two, Phil Coke has been getting great results. What do you expect from him going forward?

Aldred. He's pitching really well right now, he's in a groove. The ball is coming out of his hand really well. He's getting some confidence in all three of his pitches, he's pounding the zone with those three pitches and that's the key, being able to throw whatever pitch whenever he needs to.

PinstripesPlus: Is his move to the bullpen solely to keep to his predetermined innings-limit?

Aldred. Yes. We are trying to control his inning work that way and give him a little taste of what it's like to pitch out of the bullpen.

PinstripesPlus: Now that Eric Hacker has been in Trenton for a few months, how has he adjusted to Double-A?

Aldred. Pretty well, he's done a nice job lately pitching with his fastball a little bit more. He's got a good fastball and I'd like to see him get a few more outs with it. The changeup is coming. It's not really that effective right now but he's got a nice little cutter, the slider, and he can manage the zone with his curveball really good.

PinstripesPlus: George Kontos has been a little inconsistent this year, what is he doing or what does he need to do to get better?

Aldred. George just needs to keep pitching. We're working on some delivery stuff with him which kind of makes it a little tough to still compete because we're changing some things but the stuff's there, he throws a lot of strikes, and it'll take place soon and then you'll see the difference in George.

PinstripesPlus: The Padres claimed Mike Gardner in the Rule 5 draft but now he's back pitching with Trenton. From what you've seen, can Gardner compete for a spot in the big league bullpen?

Aldred. He's got plenty of stuff, I don't think anybody's ever questioned his stuff, it's the consistency that has yet to show up from night to night. I think everybody wants to see him just level out and maintain a consistent run for awhile.

PinstripesPlus: After being injured for much of the season, Kevin Whelan is now back with some good early results. What are you looking for out of him to close out the season?

Aldred. He just needs to get some arm strength back and get some innings under his belt. He missed so much time that we need to build him back, he's a little behind everyone else because of the time he's missed.

PinstripesPlus: Who has impressed you the most so far this season?

Aldred. Phil Coke, Jason Jones, and Claggett have impressed me quite a bit in what they've been able to do here.

PinstripesPlus: Who, in your opinion, has come the farthest from the beginning of the season?

Aldred. Probably Coke at this point. He was a little unsure of what he was doing out there the first month and a half but now he's turned the corner and now he's one of the best pitchers in this league.

PinstripesPlus: For the second year Trenton has had arguably the best rotation in the Eastern League. How do you think last year's rotation of Horne, Marquez, McCutcheon last year stacks up with Coke, Jones, Kontos this year?

Aldred. I think that they're similar in a lot of ways. Similar numbers definitely that they've been able to put up and I'd rate them pretty close in terms of performance and productivity.

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