Spring Training Report: 3/18/2014
LEFTY BANDA HOPING TO BUILD ON STRONG 2013 SEASON
Milwaukee left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda made significant strides in his second year in the Brewers organization in 2013.
Checking in at #27 on Baseball America’s list of top Brewers prospects, the 6’3″ Texan could climb even further up those rankings with similar success in 2014. Banda credits a repeatable delivery and improving mechanics with helping him to adjust to Pioneer League hitters.
“Just going to the field everyday and working on my mechanics” said Banda. “Making sure I’m repeating, as well as executing my pitches down in the zone, and making sure I repeat the right things that lead up to my improvement and success. As they say, this game is played on constant adjustments and I believe I did make the right adjustments to help my team and myself be as successful as possible.”
One of the adjustments that Banda made, was to pitch more to contact, in an effort to work deeper in to games. As a result, his strikeout numbers were down, but his other numbers improved consistently across the board as his Helena squad came within a game of a Pioneer League title.
“As a starting pitcher you’re not looking to strike everybody out” he said. “Yes, you want to get people out, but in any way you can, and I did, in fact, throw the ball over the plate, which in result led to getting more ground balls and fly outs.”
“Any pitcher will tell you if you just execute down in the zone, your chances on getting outs to giving up hits are greater. It’s when you leave pitches up in the zone is when you get hurt as a pitcher. Most of the time the hitters are going to get themselves out, so all you can do is throw the ball over the plate and let them hit it. You’ve also got to throw the ball over the plate to let your defense get outs for you, and I 100% trust my defense to get the out for me.”
“Any starting pitcher needs and wants to work deep in the game. It’s their job to do so. So in that case you need to throw to contact to get hitters out with less pitches used. If you pitch around a hitter you’re not only hurting yourself by wasting pitches, you’re hurting your team by possibly walking the hitter, so I threw to contact to get outs quicker and to allow myself to pitch deeper in the game.”
As Banda prepares for his first full-season assignment, he knows he must continue to build strength and maintain his mechanics as he deals with an increased workload.
“I’ve been working on overall strength and mechanical work” he said. “Being a pitcher seems easy but there’s a lot of factors to it, such as staying in shape and being able to keep your arm in shape as well. “The biggest factor is improving your mechanics. That allows you to command all of your pitches down in the zone, resulting in getting outs. My main goal this year is to stay healthy and stay positive. If you’re hurt you can’t do much, and your not helping your team by being hurt. So staying healthy is the biggest goal for me. Have fun, stay healthy and have a great quality year while improving my craft as a pitcher.”
Banda’s next step will likely be a move to Class-A Wisconsin, where he should slot in to the Timber Rattlers rotation when they begin play in a couple of weeks. If he can make the same jump in 2014 that he made last season, he could become a household name among Brewers fans, as a valuable left-handed pitching prospect that the organization so desperately needs.
The Brewers got back on the winning track on Tuesday, defeating the Texas Rangers 9-3 at Maryvale Baseball Park. Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds led the offensive attack, each going 2-for-3 with a home run. Marco Estrada started and tossed six shutout innings. Minor league outfielders Jeremy Hermida and Michael Ratterree both saw action late in the game for Milwaukee. Each went 0-for-1 in their only at bat.
BACK FIELD NOTES
I was at Maryvale today to watch the Brewers Class-A affiliates play host to the Oakland A’s. I spent most of my time at the High-A game but made my way over to the Low-A game for a bit as well. Here are a few of my observations from this afternoon’s action.
– Cameron Garfield is red hot right now. He crushed another double in his first at bat that didn’t miss leaving the yard by much. He followed that with a single in his next at bat.
– Michael Reed started the game in right field and launched the only home run of the contest, a tape measure shot to left center.
– Pitching was a mixed bag. Starting pitcher Preston Gainey looked great. Eric Arnett and Kevin James, not so much. Gainey worked the first three innings and cruised through without much issue. Arnett and James both struggled to throw strikes late in the game, and got hit hard when they did.
– Jalen Harris just missed a home run in the sixth inning. After working the count full and fighting off several pitches. He got into a 3-2 pitch and sent it off the wall in deep left for a double.
– Tucker Neuhaus was back in action after leaving yesterday’s game when he was hit in the calf with a foul ball. He started Wisconsin’s game on the bench, but entered later.
– The defense from the Brewers catchers stood out today, as Garfield, Jack Cleary, Clint Coulter and Paul Eshelman all did a good job of cutting down runners on the bases.
– Victor Roache showed good patience at the plate, drawing a pair of walks. He also hit the ball hard in another at bat – a line drive screamer to third – but the Oakland third baseman made a really nice play to get the out.
The Brewers have a Camp Day scheduled for Wednesday. They will practice at Maryvale Baseball Park but do not have any games scheduled. Their next games will be played on Thursday afternoon when they square off against the Seattle Mariners affiliates.