Lehigh Valley & Reading pitching coaches discuss their staffs

The minor league regular season gets under way on Thursday with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs hosting the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Double-A Reading Fightins hitting the road to take on the Portland SeaDogs.

This week, I spoke with IronPigs pitching coach Ray Burris as well as Fightins pitching coach Dave Lundquist, who each commented on several of their respective teams’ hurlers.  Read ahead for these exclusive quotes about the Phillies’ top pitching prospects at the upper levels of the developmental ranks.


Burris, image- Jay Floyd

Ray Burris-

-On LHP Adam Morgan, who missed the entire 2014 season following surgery to repair his throwing shoulder, and his potential to live up to being an early round draft pick…

I’m confident (that he can).  I think he feels that way now, because he understands and knows how his delivery is supposed to work.  When you have that knowledge inside of you and when you throw the ball incorrectly, you know that didn’t feel right, so you immediately go to what caused it and you go to correct it on the next pitch.  That’s half the battle in anything.

-Speaking about Morgan’s work ethic…

He’s the type of guy that’s going to outwork everybody that puts the uniform on because that’s what he has to do to get that job done.

-On injured pitcher Miguel A. Gonzalez…

Well, I had a little time with him last year in the 2014 season.  Some of the things that I got to see him do, we worked on improving those things in spring training.  So, it’ll be interesting to see how he goes about his business this year as well, based on what we talked about in spring training.

-I asked about Gonzalez’s offerings and if his stuff is strong enough to carry him back to the majors for good…

I don’t get hung up on the stuff.  I get hung up on the heart and the ability to have tough skin and go out there and compete.  That’s what I get hung up on and I think sometimes so many fans in this game and so many decision makers in this game get hung up on velocity.  If a guy has “pitchability”, he can pitch.  I don’t care how hard he throws.  If he can locate his fastball and he can locate his pitches, he can get guys out.

-Offering remarks on 24-year-old right-hander Colton Murray, who steadily reaches the mid-90’s with his fastball…

Colton is a maximum effort guy.  He likes to get after it and you’ll see a delivery out of him that you’ll wonder, “What was that?”  But, that’s his persona right now.  As he goes along, there’ll be times that we discuss how to smooth that out, how to throw the pitch at 60 percent as opposed to 150 percent.  But, that’s his M.O. right now and he commands the fastball and he controls his pitches, even though he’s a maximum effort guy.

-Commenting on righty Seth Rosin‘s spring and recent progress…

His spring was good.  He got to compete with the big league club over in Clearwater.  I think you’re going to see Seth Rosin- he’s at a place where he understands his delivery more than he did in his first go around with us here in Lehigh Valley.  I’m real excited with where he is mentally.  I think he knows his delivery much better.  He’s a young man that’s a student of the game.  You can’t give him too much, he’s like a sponge.  But, he comes to work and he comes to play and he comes to get the job done.

-Sharing thoughts on if he’s looking forward to working with the well regarded five-some in Reading’s starting rotation (Aaron Nola, Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively and Tom Windle), as they climb toward the next level…

When it’s time, I’m looking forward to working with anybody.  At this level, this step is knocking on the door to the big league level.  Being in a position to help those guys get to the big league gives me a joy and an excitement in my spirit as far as me going forward and helping these guys get there.

Dave Lundquist-

-I asked Lundy to provide feedback on what makes each of his starting pitchers, the new “Baby Aces” staff, stand out…

With Biddle, he’s starting to show much more command and he’s got that finishing curve ball.  He’s got that curve ball that- I don’t know how you can spin a baseball like that, but he can.

With Windle you have a guy that goes right at you.  You know, pretty good deception, life on the fastball.  His secondary stuff is just getting better and better.  I see him as a young kid that has a chance at taking over a rotation some day.

With Eflin, you have a big kid with a pretty big arm, nice sinker, slider, change.  You know, and he’s a strike thrower.  He goes right at you and he just gets you out.

And then Lively, again, a strike thrower that has a good feel for what he’s trying to go.  If you go all the way through them, the most important thing right now is they’re strike throwers with confidence and they all do have some weapon or weapons that can finish hitters.  There’s just a job of refining those and making them ready to get big league guys out.

(Tune in to next week’s edition of Phillies Nation TV for Lundquist’s thoughts on last year’s top Phils draft selection, Nola)

-Elaborating on his assertion that Biddle has improved his command…

I think some of (the source of his improvement) is maturity and age.  And he’s grown from them.  The major league staff had done a few things with his delivery to try to keep everything in sync a little bit better.  And everything I’ve seen so far is that he’s a confident young pitcher and right now he’s putting the ball pretty close to where he wants.  And you throw in those secondary pitches and you’ve got a guy that they can’t just look for one pitch.  You know, now you’re getting more rounded pitchers, where they have to look for two or three things and make an adjustment.

-Speaking about the duties that may be assigned for his bullpen pitchers…

The back end will be- Nefi Ogando will be back there.  Elvis Araujo will be back there.  I mean, really, all of them have been back there and will get a chance.  Mike Nesseth has done it for us in the past.  Ryan O’Sullivan‘s a guy that can- all of them really.  Everyone’s going to get a chance.  I think it’s important for all of those guys to experience the back end of the game.  It’s a good learning tool to come into that pressure situation.  I mean, we’ll have a few guys that we will specifically use, but I’d like for all of them to get the opportunity to try it.

Full opening day Phillies minor league rosters are available by clicking here.  And be sure to follow me on Twitter for regular updates direct from the ballparks all season long.

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