As seasons across all levels of the farm system wrap up over the course of the next two weeks,…
Stinson Moves to the Bullpen
It has certainly been a year of progress for the 20-year-old hurler who began the year where he left off 2007—in Savannah. However, this time around, Stinson was used out of the bullpen in the majority of his appearances.
Stinson made 21 starts for the Sandgnats last season [3-11, 4.86 ERA] before an innings cap sent him to the bullpen for five relief outings. During his time in the rotation, the right-hander could never truly command his four-pitch repertoire and in the end all of his pitches and his game suffered.
Therefore, to minimize his workload and to have him focus on just his two pitches—his fastball and curveball—the organization decided it was best for him to begin the year in the Savannah bullpen. Though his repertoire goes five deep [he throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball], the hope was that if can command his fastball better, success would follow. Stinson agreed and attributed it to continued work in the off-season.
"My velocity is actually up this year which is surprising because I wasn't expecting that. I worked out with my agent last off-season in Fort Lauderdale and he showed me to stay on my back hip and drive towards the plate," he explained.
"I think that more than anything has helped me improve my velocity. Early in the season I had a little bit of control problems but I seemed to have calmed that down."
Once he straightened out his mechanics, the next element to work on was his mental approach. Though humbled by his rough outings last year, Stinson admitted he did not give enough thought to what he was doing on the mound. His move the bullpen and concentrated fastball work helped correct what he lacked.
"Last year, I felt like I could throw it by everybody, but that isn't going to happen in this league or any other league in professional baseball. Coming out of the bullpen has been a totally different element for me, but my fastball control has been a big part of it." he said.
"Last year, I would get a bit scared of the strike zone which made me give into hitters. This year, I'm not afraid to go after hitters and mix in other pitches in the strike zone."
With his fastball in tow, Stinson quickly took a shine to the bullpen. Though the adjustment period came with its lumps, Stinson proved to be a steady middle reliever for Savannah. More than anything, being in the position of having his name called at any time helped him block out the prolonged thinking of a starter and let him just go after hitters.
"Pitching from the bullpen is a total adrenaline rush, getting the signal to start throwing and then I'm right in the game. I'm going after hitters with my fastball and throwing confidently and that's something I didn't really do last year. I'm no longer pitching back on my heels," he explained.
He moved into the Savannah rotation during July as Nick Carr was sent back up to St. Lucie and made six spot starts, but when Stinston received his own call to High-A he was moved back into relief. Despite the move out of the rotation this season, he accepts his new role with newfound confidence.
"Starting is a lot more of a dragged out procedure, but the bullpen has helped me gain my confidence this year," he said. "I'm not focusing on all my pitches, staying simple and not worrying or over-thinking."
"Given the start of the season I had, I just want to put my team in a position to win no matter what situation I'm pitching in. If I can do that, I feel it will be a positive year for me."
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