Tuesday, July 3, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Lehigh Valley pitching coach Dave Lundquist

Last week I spoke with Triple-A Lehigh Valley pitching coach Dave Lundquist.  Among the topics of discussion were promising pitching prospects Enyel De Los Santos, Cole Irvin, Brandon Leibrandy, Drew Anderson, Tyler Gilbert and plenty others.

Lundquist pitched in the major leagues with the White Sox and the Padres prior to joining the coaching ranks.  He has been with the Phillies developmental staff since 2008.

Read ahead for the full interview...

-You've got a couple International League All-Stars on your pitching staff.  Can you comment on those guys and the honor?

Yeah, we got De Los Santos, who's been selected to be the starter for that game.  You know, that's a huge honor.  It goes back to his work ethic and what he's done, what he's accomplished all year.  The guy's had, you know, a tremendous first half.  Let him go enjoy that game and pick up the second half where he left off.  

Cole Irvin, image- Jay Floyd
With Irvin also, he's been as consistent as you can be.  From start to start, his last seven or eight have been-- it's like just looking at the same thing over and over.  You get seven innings, sometimes a run, sometimes two, but he's been as consistent as you can be.  And the development on both of them, you know with their breaking stuff and their secondary pitches has been tremendous to watch.

-When a guy like De Los Santos is acquired over the off-season, do you see that deal get made then get excited, 'cause you'll have a new promising hurler to work with?

A little bit, yeah.  You get a new toy, you get excited.  I didn't know a whole lot about him.  I got to see him a little bit in spring training, not a lot of him.  And then when we got up here, my eyes were really opened.  I was like, "Wow, we've got something special here."  So, the talent is excellent.  You know, good kid.  He's fun to work with.

-You talked about guys that have been consistent, Ben Lively showed consistency prior to landing on the disabled list.  He didn't have that same success up at the big league level this year.  What can you share on him?

Well, I don't really know what is going on in his starts up there.  Down here, he's maintaining better angles with his stuff and that adds to his deception.  His secondary stuff has definitely gotten better every year.  And this year, he started showing some plus secondary stuff.   He started working in a usable change up as well.  A strong pitcher that's got a mean streak on the mound and he's shown a feel for four pitches and better angles.

-Back to Cole Irvin real quick.  He's kind of an earlier round (draft) guy that came out of college.  When he's here with you, in Triple-A, less than two years after being drafted, when he's on the fast track like that, does he excite you too, the way that a completely new guy like De Los Santos does?

Absolutely.  You've got a guy that is, like you said, in his second year from being drafted and to do what he's done here at this level-- he's faced a lot of guys that have been in, or are top prospects, guys that have been in the big leagues and come down, guys that have been there for a while and there's no panic in anything he does.  He's relaxed and he knows he has a chance to beat you every night.  It's fun to watch.

-You talk about guys that don't panic and you've got another guy like that.  A guy that's got a focused and relaxed demeanor when he goes out there, Drew Anderson.  What have you seen from him this year?

Consistent development of everything.  Delivery's getting stronger and stronger.  Secondary stuff-- we all know he's got a plus-plus curve ball, but the slider and change up have become plus weapons for him as well.  These last three starts have been very consistent with command and the ability to finish hitters when he has to and how he wants to finish them.  Really, his last three games in particular, he's really starting to show what he can do.

-Leibrandt's another guy that has has loads of success for you. He also has had a good pace getting to this level, getting here last year.  Now this season, he's got a 1.42 ERA.  Talk about him a bit.

Yeah, he started in the bullpen, he had to do go through a stretch there where we needed and start, and he did a tremendous job there.  I don't know, it was 31, 32 scoreless innings to start the year.  It was a ridiculous number.  And when it comes down, he's got deception, he throws strikes and he's got good secondary stuff.  A plus change up and he can spin the ball.  Again, with him, there's no panic.  "There it is, try to hit me!"  And then he goes back to the bullpen and we got him on back to back days and I thought he was better on the second day than he was the first day, which is a credit to his thought process, his mentality, his mental strength.  He really showed me a lot doing that.

-Jake Thompson's kind of an on-deck reliever for the big league team, when there's a need of late.  Going back and forth, can that benefit him?  Can that hurt him, based on what you've seen?

I think it benefits him because he has to be sharp, he has to be ready and all times.  You know, him and Mark Leiter.  They have to be ready at a moment's notice.  I think it's a good thing.  It teaches them that they can't take a day off.  You know, they've got to be paying attention to all things in the games when they're not throwing, when they are throwing, taking care of their bodies, everything they have to do to be ready.  There could be a call in five minutes or it might not be for a week.  We don't know.  But, just making sure those guys do what they do to stay ready for the big leagues.

-Obviously, when guys get their first call up, it's a very special moment.  But when there are guys that are the up-and-down guys, is that call up an exciting moment still?  Or can it be a headache to have to deal with that extra travel back and forth?

I think it's always exciting.  To have an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues it's always a good thing.  You know, if you have the mindset that you're going up there and you're going up to stay, you can do some good things and open some eyes and force people's hand to where they have to keep you. They've got a lot of good pitchers up in Philadelphia right now and being and up-and-down guy is not a bad thing.  You could be a guy that's here without consideration, but to have that consideration, as a guy to come up there situationally, go long, go short, come in and get you out of a jam, come in and eat some innings, whatever the case may be, I think it's always a good thing to have that.

-Great.  Tom Eshelman does not have as gleaming of a stat line as he did here last year, when he was the starting pitcher on the All-Star team.  What are the differences for him?

Really the biggest thing with Tom this year-- the little bit of difference is the fastball command.  Last year, he really put the ball where he wanted to.  He's starting to turn a corner now.  His last couple starts have been pretty good.  We've limited how far in the game we were gonna let him go, when we got him to the point where we thought that was a positive outing, we got him.  The last couple have been five innings and we got him.  We thought those were positive and productive and we were gonna get something out of it and be able to get a good work week in for him and prepare him for his next start.  But, really the secondary stuff has been good.  The curve, slider have been good.  Change is okay.  It's really just been the fastball command overall that's different from last year.  And we've looked into a ton of different things, used every resource within the organization to find if and where the flaws are and working on fixing them.  He's starting to show inning to inning that he's getting it back.  So that's fun to watch.

-Tom Windle's a guy that has looked good at times since coming to the Phillies, but has taken steps back.  More good than bad recently, of course (1.48 ERA last 10 outings).  Can you talk about him a bit?

Yeah, he's done a nice job for us, especially early in the year.  He came in this year as a strike thrower.  The fastball cuts, the slider plays, can throw it for strikes, can throw it out of the zone.  There was a little bit through the middle of the year where he didn't get as much work as he may have needed to stay sharp, but he's done a nice job the last couple of weeks, keeping himself sharp and preparing himself.

-A new addition is Tyler Gilbert to the club.  Had a really strong half a season with Reading, comes here to join your bullpen.  What do you know of him?  What have you seen?

I know he's a strike thrower, with a cutter and a curve.  I got to watch him throw a little bit in the bullpen today and I can't wait to see this in a game.  Everything that's I've got from (pitching coach Steve Schrenk) in Reading has been positive.  From the coordinator's everything is positive.  From seeing him short limited times on the mounds up here, it looks like it's going to be fun to watch. I look forward to it. 
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