Holt Brings the Hard Stuff

Holt threw five no-hit innings in his second start

Brad Holt, the Mets' 2008 first round supplemental pick, came to the organization with an impressive fastball that was the backbone of his success in college. Now as he holds down a spot in the Cyclones' rotation, he will work to round out his repertoire but his game still begins with the heater.

[The following is an excerpt from the feature article in the upcoming print edition of Inside Pitch Magazine]

If he had been asked to, Brad Holt believes he could have gone the distance.

In his second career start as a professional at Keyspan Park on June 26, the 21-year-old Brooklyn Cyclones right-hander had yet to allow a hit to the Aberdeen IronBirds through five innings. Holt had never thrown a nine-inning no-hitter, and it wasn't likely that his 6-foot-4 frame would give out: in the final start of his career for UNC-Wilmington, less than four weeks before, he had thrown 149 pitches. His final pitch of the outing, to his 37th batter and the second-to-last batter of the game, was clocked at 94 mph.

"Oh no, I wasn't feeling tired at all," he says. "I mean, I'm still in shape from school, even then I would go nine deep. But that wouldn't have been the smart thing to do."

In the end, Holt was lucky to have gone even the five innings. He was permitted by Cyclones pitching coach Hector Berrios to throw more than 80 pitches–exceeding the Mets' prescribed limit—only because he was throwing so masterfully.

But considering the potential Holt has, as the first pitcher selected by the Mets in the 2008 draft at No. 33 overall, and considering the investment the Mets have made in him, with a signing bonus that exceeds $1 million, some standard kid-glove treatment is understandable.

"I think he can be something special," Berrios says. "One of the top one, two, three guys in the rotation ... he's a guy that could move through the system extremely quick."

"He's unbelievable," says Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo.

Elsewhere, Holt receives only praise: for his mindset and maturity—"He's just been one cool, collected individual that takes in information," Berrios says—as well for as his athleticism and repeatable mechanics.

Having those qualities, however, means Holt still can't get knocked around some. His first outing as a pro, also against Aberdeen on June 21, lasted just 2 1/3 innings on a 60-pitch limit. He gave up two runs on two hits and walked one as the losing pitcher.

"I maybe left a couple more fastballs up in the zone. They fouled off a lot more pitches, that's why my pitch count got up so quick," Holt says.

Then came the five-inning no-hitter. He struck out the first two batters he faced before hitting a batter. He finished with six strikeouts, throwing about 60 percent fastballs, 20 percent breaking balls and 20 percent changeups.

"I was locating fastballs down in the zone, both sides of the plate, working in and out, that was the main thing," Holt says. "Being able to locate the fastball, that just sets up everything else. The breaking ball was working alright, it got a little away from me toward the end."

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