I spent some time this week chatting with the Phillies minor league pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller, who offered his thoughts on several talented young hurlers in the Phils’ system.
Heimueller, who has been the Phils’ minor league pitching coordinator since 2002, pitched 14 seasons as a pro, including parts of two with the Athletics. Prior to his current position, Heimueller was a pitching coach at the Double-A and Triple-A level for the Phillies.
Gorm shared his opinions on several prospects including Brody Colvin, Austin Wright, Shane Watson, Jake Diekman and he even danced around a question about when Phils fans might expect to see Phillippe Aumont back with the big club after his recent demotion to Triple-A. Read ahead for the full interview.
– Austin Wright’s been a guy that missed some time with an injury and has allowed a lot of runs in his two starts (0-2, 22.22 ERA) with Reading since being activated. Is there much concern with him after those difficult outings?
Actually, he started spring training in great shape, throwing the ball really good. Then he complained of a little shoulder tightness and he went up to Reading, and I think it was bothering him a little more, so we brought him down to Clearwater. He’s healthy now. He’s gonna get back to where he was the last couple years. He was looking forward to a really good year in Reading, which, there’s still a lot of time and the bottom line now is he’s healthy, so we’ll get him back to where he was.
– I wanted to ask you about Brody Colvin. I know last year he was switched to the bullpen for a short stretch, just to work on some things or straighten things out mentally, then returned to the rotation. This year, he’s back to relieving. What is the future for Brody?
Well, Brody is by far, I mean he’s much improved over last year…his command of all three of his pitches. He came into camp in great shape and was throwing the ball real well. And I think it was his groin or hamstring that he strained and missed some time and we wanted to get him back pitching. At the time, there was no room to start then, but he pitched four innings the other day and we know he’s there to start and it’s a long season, but we wanted to get him back up there to Double-A and start pitching at that level and contributing and he’s pitched real well since he’s come back.
– Is there a time frame to get Colvin back starting games then?
It depends on what our needs are and right now the bottom line for us was to get him back up pitching at that level. There were some guys there that were throwing well and hopefully, and I’ve talked to Brody, the bottom line is to pitch. If he can show he can pitch out of the bullpen, we know he can start, that just increases his value.
– Do you have any updates on Clearwater reliever Kenny Giles’ progress from his most recent oblique strain?
I saw him last week. He’s playing catch. The ball’s coming out of his hand well. He doesn’t have any pain. He’s working on some mechanical things, since he’s got time for it. We’re, after the second (time this happened), we’re just being patient. I think, realistically, the second half of the season is what we’re shooting for and what’s he’s shooting for. But, the ball’s coming out good, but yeah, he wants to start pitching yesterday. I tell you what…he’s learned that he can’t. He’s got to trust the trainers and the strength guys to get him in a position to get back out on the mound to compete because that’s no problem once he starts doing that.
– Lefty pitcher Nick Hernandez is a guy that has missed considerable time with shoulder surgeries and things, but he’s been pretty good for Clearwater, putting up some really strong outings (3-1, 4.37 ERA, 10.46 K/9 in nine games) and had a couple poor ones. Is there any surprise in the output he has put forth with the strike outs and everything?
When you saw him here, in Lakewood, for the (time he was healthy), he was the most consistent pitcher we had here at that time. I wouldn’t say he had the best stuff of those guys, but a guy that knows how to pitch. He commanded his fastball, had a very good change up and a good slider and he’s picked up from that (this year). The thing right now, with Nick, is that’s behind him and he’s pitching. He’s having fun being on the mound. I got to see him down there and, in the games, the type of pitcher he is he’s not usually going to beat himself, but he gives up some hits some times because he misses over the plate, but he studies the game, so he’s good for some of the younger pitchers down there. I mean, he’s still young, but he’s missed two years and I think missing those two years and watching more games…he’s always been a student of the game, but I think it’s even made him more aware of what he can do and what his ability is and he’s going out there and executing the pitches.
– Shane Watson’s (3-4, 5.44 ERA, 10 games) with Lakewood this year after being a 1st round draft pick last year and, with his stats, hasn’t had a lot of success. What are your thoughts on Shane’s season?
I guess the definition of success is different from just stats wise. I am pretty pleased with what Shane is doing in his first full year. I was just kidding him in the dugout saying, “A year ago at this time, you were probably getting ready for prom!” Now he’s in his first year of pro ball. He’s got a good fastball, he’s learning the change up. He’s taking the ball every five days. He’s had some rough spots, like everybody does. If you look at Jesse Biddle and Brody Colvin and those guys, they struggled early. And he’s had some good games. He’s had a couple games that were tough, but he’s…I’m not too concerned with Shane. He’ll be fine.
– Kyle Simon (0-1, 4.15 ERA, six saves) has had limited success in the role of closer for Reading. He’s had his role in the bullpen adjusted there at times. What will Kyle be working on to improve and succeed going forward?
With Kyle, I think, last year was a tremendous year for him (with the trade and then how he helped Reading). (This year) he went to big league camp in his second full year, good experience for him. And he went to Reading and he had a couple outings where things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to, or he wanted them to. So, we put him in a role now, where it’s not that closing role. He’s starting to get more consistent. The whole key for him is his sinker and being consistent throwing strikes with that and then working on his slider and other pitches, but it all comes off that sinker. The last few games, it’s been an improvement and I really don’t like defining that guy as a closer…but he will get his opportunities. We just want him to be consistent throwing the ball over the plate.
– Jake Diekman (1-0, 6.45 ERA, seven saves, 22 K’s, 22 BB in 22 games) has walked a lot of guys this year out of the bullpen at Triple-A. What does he need to work on or improve to get himself right and can he still help the big team?
Oh, no question he can help the big club. His stuff is outstanding and to answer your question, don’t walk so many guys. It sounds simple. He’s on a pretty good…about four or five of the last six games he’s thrown the ball well. He’s been attacking the strike zone. I think he’s got six or seven saves now and his confidence is growing. But he’s got stuff and there’s no doubt that he can help the big league club.
– Phillippe Aumont takes a demotion recently. What will he be working on and what’s the time frame to get him back on the big league roster?
Well, the time frame depends on need, success. We don’t try to worry about that, we try to worry about that moment, working on one thing. With him, it’s staying on line, keeping his head on line, so it can allow him to be more consistent with balls in the strike zone. His problem was getting hit, walked too many guys. His stuff is off the chart. He’s got tremendous stuff. Everybody knows that. The only thing he needs to worry about, when he’s on the mound, is execute that pitch, and when he’s done with that, execute that (next) pitch, and at the end of that game, hopefully, he has good results and then get onto the next game, regardless of where it is. He doesn’t need to worry about, “Where am I going to be? When am I going to be there?” That we try to take out of it. It’s just worry about the moment.
– Severino Gonzalez (1-0, 0.00 ERA through five games), a righty from Panama, is a guy that we’re starting to see in box scores, doing some good things for Clearwater with no runs allowed and 15 strike outs in 12 2/3 innings thus far. What can you tell me about him?
He’s done a great job. We sent him over there, because we had a couple of injuries and we had a guy go up and we needed somebody there to fill in for a while. He came to his first spring training this year. Strike thrower…he throws the ball over the plate. Breaking ball’s gotten better in the past month or so. And he’s somebody that’s just taken advantage of an opportunity. He’s gonna get the ball somewhere. Right now, he’s taking it there, but he’s just ready to pitch and it’s a great story.