Monday, April 17, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: Pitching Coach Brian Sweeney Talks 2017 BlueClaws

Brian Sweeney, image- Jay Floyd
Last week I sat down with Class A Lakewood pitching coach Brian Sweeney to chat about his new collection of hurlers as his BlueClaws were opening their home schedule.

Among the topics of discussion were highly regarded right-hander Sixto Sanchez, starting pitchers JoJo Romero, Adonis Medina and Bailey Falter as well as returning relievers Zach Morris and Harold Arauz and others.

Read ahead for the full interview.

-I missed Sixto Sanchez’s start in the home opener on Thursday. He had a good outing, going five innings, striking out five on one earned run. What are your early impressions of him as a guy who has gotten a lot of attention?

You know, he garners that attention. He goes about his business the right way, pitching well, working hard, just getting his experience in, here in full-season.

-I got to meet JoJo Romero for a second in the clubhouse. He’s got 11 strike outs in nine innings so far this season. What are your thoughts on him?

Same as Sixto, another guy getting a full season under his belt, you know, embracing the process of getting better. Learning how to build outs and pitching in some cold weather. So, he’s doing a great job as well.

-Adonis Medina has performed well thus far for the club. Can you talk about him a bit?

Another solid arm. A guy embracing the process of learning. It’s been fun to watch him work hard and get on the mound. And these guys are so young and it’s exciting for them to get out there against some better competition.

-Zach Morris might be the only guy on this staff I’ve seen pitch before. He’s back here once more after being here the past two seasons. Was there a lot of disappointment for a guy like that, who has performed very well at this level to come back here?

Oh, I’m sure he was disappointed. He definitely put up the numbers and was an important part of the bullpen, but that doesn’t change anything for him. This year will be just as important and, hopefully, as he continues to put up numbers, he can get his opportunity.

-Are there any defined roles among the relievers right now?

The cool thing about this level is that they’re going to learn to do everything. They’re going to pitch in long relief, they’re going to close, they’re going to set up, everyone’s going to have to be a fireman at some point, so it’s nice to see who steps up in certain situations and as the season goes on, there will be a more defined role.

-Bailey Falter is a guy that could become a big contributor for this team. What can you share about him?

Bailey is— I’m excited for him to be here. He had success last year in Williamsport and has done a nice job. In his first start, pitched very well with good fastball command. The kid’s still growing, getting stronger and I’m excited for his future.

-(Glancing at the roster in hand) Is there anybody else on the roster that I should be asking you about?

Oh, yeah! We can talk about every single one of these guys…

-(Cutting him off) Harold (Arauz) has been here before…I’ve seen him!

That’s right, you forgot about Harold! He pitched four innings for us (on Thursday) night in a very important role and held the game where it was and gave up one run in four innings and, you know, just continues to get outs with an attack mentality.

I could talk about all of them. I see a big leaguer in every one of these guys. And, you got Ranger (Suarez) going (Friday) night, who has improved with his delivery so much and (Felix) Paulino I had in the GCL and these guys have a lot of promise. And the most important part is their development.
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