Last week I chatted with the pitching coach for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs Dave Lundquist. Topics of discussion included his team’s All-Star catcher Andrew Knapp, reliever Edubray Ramos, righty David Buchanan and plenty more. Read ahead for that interview.
-Feedback I’ve gotten on Andrew Knapp has included his skills at leading a pitching staff and being a good leader. Have you seen growth from him in this aspect of his game?
One thing here, with some older pitchers, you gotta learn each pitcher a little bit and he’s doing good. He gets to evaluate the pitches from inning to inning and prioritize certain things and stay within the game plan, so a lot of that is getting better. Doing a good job there and he’s getting to learn some veteran pitchers that have been around and see some different sequences, so it’s good for him.
-News about Mark Appel‘s season ending elbow surgery is disappointing for the team I am sure. Is that something that caught the team off-guard?
When he left I really just thought it was a strain in the shoulder. The stuff that came up after that I really don’t have much info on that. I really don’t know a whole lot about what happened when he was down there (rehabbing), but, you know, it is what it is and we’ll get a healthy guy back next year and he’s a good kid and he can do some things. He can excite you.
-Starter Ben Lively had not lost a game in 2016 till this week. What has been the big difference for him this season versus what you saw with him last year?
Versus last year- a consistent angle. Driving the ball down in the zone. Able to throw quality secondary pitches in the zone and out of the zone. More confident. A little more mature this year than last year and he grew up a lot. The biggest thing is the consistent angle on the pitches. You know, the other day was just one of those days. He didn’t have secondary stuff going as good as he has been and things are going to get you when you only have one pitch. It was a good learning lesson for him.
-Edubray Ramos made a quick run through the Phillies’ developmental ranks in just a couple years. Is he one of the best stories out of the system this year?
Yeah, it is and when you look at how he throws the ball, when you watch him once, you understand why. He’s as aggressive as any pitcher can be and he’s confident with all of his pitches. He really throws four pitches for strikes with a mid-90’s fastball that he can command, there’s a reason why those (kind of) guys can move fast.
-I know you’ve always been confident in David Buchanan’s talent. Is there a bit or urgency for him to get back to the big leagues before somewhat of a window there closes for him and what is he doing to get back there?
Well, he’s doing everything he can to put himself in a position to be back there. The curve ball’s been a little tighter. The sinker’s getting the movement that it had been in the past. I would hope at some point he would get another opportunity.
He works hard. He’s one of the hardest working guys you’re going to come around and he’s very committed to everything he’s doing. His bullpens or games, you know, he puts in the work at a level as good as anybody. I hope he does get that shot. The stuff is getting better than it was in spring training. I would love to see him get back.
-On a similar note, what is Colton Murray focusing on to get back to the big leagues right now?
Well, consistent command. Being able to keep a slider in the zone. The power curve ball that’s in and out of the zone is a tough one to throw for strikes, so consistent command and keep the slider, you know, something– the secondary pitch that he can keep in the zone. That’s kind of what he’s doing. He’s pretty good.
-You’ve got some veterans in this pitching staff. Are there any guys who stand out as being able lead and mentor some of the younger players on this IronPigs roster?
Well, in the bullpen you’ve got (Edward) Mujica. You know a veteran guy, an All-Star. He’s helped out everybody as far as preparing themselves for games. I don’t want to miss out on anybody, but you’ve got (Frank) Herrmann down there. We’ve got a lot of guys down there in the bullpen and some guys in the rotation that provide a lot of leadership for those younger guys. So, it’s a good thing to have.