Mako Oliveras returned to Binghamton in 2008 to begin his second season as manager for the Double-A…
Q&A with B-Mets Pitching Coach Ricky Bones
Ricky Bones: I've been with most of these guys through Spring Training even though guys like Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell were with the big league club in camp, which will give them terrific experience for their career getting the opportunity to pitch in big league camp, I have a pretty good idea of what all these guys need to do to make it up to that level.
Jose Sanchez is a guy who was here last year and had some tough times but he needs more consistency on his part. His pitches are good but from start to start it was tough to know what he was going to bring to the mound.
Eric Brown is a pitcher that could really do good things for us. He came out of St. Lucie where his game was all about consistency and now he will be facing Double-A hitters which could be a test for him.
In the bullpen we've got some really good arms that we feel confident will help us keep the lead a lot more often this season. It all starts with Eddie Kunz, where it'll be his first full-season and he comes all the way up here. He will be a guy who needs to learn a little bit about the system, but he's a powerful kid with really hard stuff and once he learns how to put it all together he's going to be a force on the mound. He just needs to face hitters at this level to get ready.
Our lefties in the bullpen, Edgar Alfonzo and Eddie Camacho, need to be very specific about their pitches, especially when they use their off-speed pitches and breaking balls over the plate to get guys out. Joseph Hietpas, German Marte are guys who really just need innings at this level to build some confidence and consistency to have success against this competition..
Inside Pitch: Compared to last year, you have a lot more younger arms on this staff. What is the message and approach you try to communicate to your staff?
Ricky Bones: The main thing with these young guys is that they know they have the natural stuff but now they have to build the combination of their stuff with the makeup and the mental preparation to know the ins and outs of the game. At the same time, they need to be able to control their approach and not let things change because they have a bad inning or a bad start. They will have a bad inning and a bad start but they can't let their mechanics and or mental approach get away from them. They need to be able to repeat their deliveries, repeat their execution without losing their focus.
Inside Pitch: I'd like to get specific about a few players. First, what do you see in Jonathon Niese that impresses you? What are some of the strongest elements to his game right now?
Ricky Bones: There are a lot of people in the organization who like Niese right now and there are a lot of reasons to like him. He's 22, a left-handed pitcher, with a powerful arm and a very strong curveball with an okay changeup. But, he needs to mature as a pitcher and stay healthy throughout his entire career and keep facing higher level competition so he can continue to take his games to new levels. He has looked very good so far this season because he is consistent with his approach and his pitches have all looked good.
Inside Pitch: You have Bobby Parnell back this season and in his first start of the season his velocity definitely was up from last year before he looked to hit a wall in the 4th inning. What are some of the new things Parnell is doing that has caught your eye?
Ricky Bones: Parnell is in the five-day rotation but his first start of the season was the first time he threw off the mound since the end of Spring Training because of weather, breaking camp, and everything else. His rhythm was off during his first start but he's a guy who can do a lot of really good things as long as he's staying focused and repeating his motion. He's got a really impressive slider and when he's fresh, his fastball looks stronger than it was when we had him here last season. He's going to be on the way up because he has such a powerful arm. His changeup is one thing that he needs to work on and improve. We know he's got his number one pitch, his fastball, and his slider right behind it but he needs more consistency with his changeup.
Inside Pitch: You touched on Eddie Kunz earlier, but can you elaborate a little more on what you see from him that makes you think he has the skills to be a reliable closer at the big league level?
Ricky Bones: "Kunzy" understands what is working for him right now and what he needs to add to his game. He has a powerful arm and a powerful sinker but it is a matter of not losing control of those pitches and staying set in his motion and his delivery. His role is obviously to come in late in the game and if he loses his mechanics and possibly his attitude as well, he's not going to help us out the way we want him to and the way we need him to but we like what we see. Right now, none of that is a problem. "Kunzy" is pitching with a lot of energy, a great attitude and so far he has been excellent saving games for us. His sinker and slider are really good pitches and his changeup needs to come along, but with his attitude and how hard he throws, Kunz could really help the big league club.
Inside Pitch: Lastly, Eric Brown is another pitcher you have who is coming up from St. Lucie. He doesn't throw as hard as one with think given his size, but what does he do well and what more does he need to do to be a successful pitcher?
Ricky Bones: The main thing for "Browny" is that he is a guy who throws a lot of strikes but needs his movement to be on for him to succeed. His game starts with his movement and pitching ahead in the count and being able to throw his second and third for strikes. We know he can command his fastball for strikes because he has good command of his fastball, but now at this level it is about commanding his other pitches for strikes, his breaking ball and changeups. I saw him command the pitches in Spring Training and now he will need to do that here if he's going to help us win games like we know he can.
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