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PhoulBallz Interview: Reading pitching coach Steve Schrenk

Steve Schrenk, image- Jay Floyd
Last week I talked with pitching coach Steve Schrenk about his staff with the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils.  The covered mostly all of the team's hurlers including JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez, Elniery Garcia, Edgar Garcia, Luke Leftwich plus plenty more.

Read ahead for my complete interview with "Schrenky".

-Related to JoJo Romero (0-4 record, 6.68 ERA), seems like he's not producing the way perhaps he was expected to, thus far.

Yeah, he’s not—I don’t think he’s satisfied with what he’s doing right now.  It’s been just a couple innings here and there for the most part.  It’s been a couple pitches, a couple innings.  I think for the most part he’s been throwing the ball okay.  He needs to be a little more consistent with the strike zone and using his off-speed pitches for strikes.  But, he’s done a good job.  It’s like I said, a couple innings here, a couple big hits.  I think he’ll be right out of the funk that he’s in, in a little bit and get it going.
 
-Seranthony Dominguez earned two promotions within two weeks and is now on the big league roster.  Does that news for a guy that was on this team just a couple weeks back lead to more excitement among the team?

Yeah, I definitely think there is.  We told these guys at the beginning of the year…there are a lot of guys that had been here in 2016 and 2017 that are pitching in the big leagues now.  So the opportunity’s right  here for them.  And to see (Dominguez) go up so fast gives the guys a good boost to know the Phillies are moving their guys, moving their pitchers and trying to win.


-Harold Arauz (3-1, 4.34 ERA) had a nice start in Trenton, keeping the team in the game.  What have you seen from him?


He does a good job.  You know, Harold is not overpowering.  What he has is he knows how to mix pitches.  He’s been going a pretty consistent five, six, seven innings every time, so he does a good job.  He’s got a good curve ball, a good little cut fastball, he’s been doing great.  So far, so good.  He’s doing exactly what he did last year in the Florida State League, so it looks good.

-Elniery Garcia has been on this team in parts of three season, joining the team for the playoffs a couple years ago, then being here and missing time last year.  Have you seen him mature during that time?

Yeah, I have.  Obviously in ’16 when he was he in the playoff run when we faced Trenton, he was really good.  Had a little setback last year with some arm problems and then with the suspension that he had, but, you know, he’s been up and down and I look for him to get stronger as the year goes.  But, his velocity is coming back.  He knows how to pitch.  I’m looking for some good things from him like he did in 2016.

-Is Edgar Garcia (0.44 ERA in 13 outings) an underrated guy that could start to garner a lot of attention?

I think he will.  He’s been pitching very well out of the bullpen.  He’s got a big league slider, pretty good fastball, 91 to 94 and his slider’s probably the pitch for me that’s going to make the difference.  It’s a difference maker out there.  We’ve been putting him in some different situations and he’s stepped up to every one of them.  So, he’s been doing very well.  I think he will be a guy that continues the path that he’s on right now.

Ranger Suarez, image- Jay Floyd
-How about some thoughts on Ranger Suarez (placed on the DL over the weekend, hamstring...1-2, 4.25 ERA) this year?

Doing great.  You know, holding his own.  He had one inning (in his last outing), just that one inning where he needed to make a pitch, but I think was it and they didn’t even hit it hard.  But he’ll be fine.  He throws strikes.  He knows how to pitch.  Sneaky velocity.  We’ve got to sharpen up his breaking ball a little bit.  But, I like what I see.

-What advantages do former starters like Luke Leftwich, Tyler Gilbert and Tyler Viza give you out of the bullpen?

They give you some length and some innings.  They know how to pitch and they've got three pitches.  That helps a lot.  You know, I think it's a benefit for those guys to come out and see what they can do.  It's much easier to transition from starter to reliever than it is a reliever to a starter.  And so far Tyler's done a good job.  Both Tylers, both Gilbert and Viza.  And Leftwich is-- you never know with some guys, they might develop another pitch and they might turn back into a starter, but right now they've taken to their role and it's been nice.  

-I can't not ask you about Franklyn Kilome (1-1 record, 5.74 ERA), so what have you seen from him this year?

You know what?  He started off a little slow.  He's been working on things that he needs to get cleaned up a little bit but the last start he had, before he got hit in the hand was outstanding and I look for another one.  The more he gets out there he gets more consistent, the more consistent he's getting.  He's throwing a lot more strikes with some little delivery changes we've made and he's buying into it.  He's still young.  Young-minded, young pitcher.  You know what I mean?  

For a lot of these guys, it's their first time in Double-A.  For a lot of my starters, if not all of them.  I think we had a combined 15 starts when we started the season, so we've got some work to do, but there's a lot of projection in all five of them for me right now.  But, Kilome, obviously with his size and what he brings to the table, I think he's going to be okay.  So far, it's been nice.  He had to work.  Every one of them had to do a lot of work, to get their feet wet here, but they're doing a good job with it.

-Is there anyone that's had an addition or subtraction to his repertoire this year?

McGarry's throwing a little bit of a slider.  Leftwich is throwing a slider.  Not really, other than that.  Harold's doing his thing.  Suarez-- Oh, Viza's throwing a splitty.  So, we've added a splitty to him and it's been good so far.  

-How long do guys work on a new offering before they are trusted to throw it in a game?

If they can throw it in the bullpen, for me, they can take it into a game.  It's the minor leagues.  It's for development.  The only way to know if it's any good is to take into a game.  I don't want them to experiment with in the big leagues.  I want them to have it now.  Yeah, we want to win games here, but at the same time now's the time to experiment with things.

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