Marcus Stroman is back, and he’s back big — at least to the degree a 5-foot-9 pitcher can be described as big. His first performance of the 2013 season certainly was. The 22-year-old Toronto Blue Jays prospect threw five scoreless ...
Marcus Stroman is back, and he’s back big — at least to the degree a 5-foot-9 pitcher can be described as big. His first performance of the 2013 season certainly was. The 22-year-old Toronto Blue Jays prospect threw five scoreless innings, with six strikeouts, for Double-A New Hampshire on Sunday.
Drafted 22nd-overall last year out of Duke, the right-hander saw his season start late due to a 50-game suspension incurred last August. Before going afoul of Minor League Baseball’s drug program, he made 15 appearances between two levels.
Stroman talked about what he brings to the mound — including his cutter-slider and his non-max-effort delivery — prior to Monday’s game in Portland, Maine.
Stroman on his suspension and starting over: “[The suspension] was for an over-the-counter stimulant I was taking. I didn’t know it was something I’d test positive for. It was definitely hard to cope with. I was sent home, then went to instructs for three or four weeks. I closed there — I didn’t start.
“When I reported to spring training they let me know they were going to give me a chance to start this year. I had all these games I had to serve, and they stretched me out during spring training and extended. I was able to work on all four of my pitches, and really develop into a starter’s role.
“I loved being told I was going to start. I certainly wasn’t mad, or anything like that. I did both at Duke, so I have experience with both. I knew I’d be able to get into a good routine and really get going.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you what the Blue Jays are thinking down the road — I just know I’m starting now. I feel I can have success as a starter, I definitely don’t feel I’ll be limited to the bullpen.”
On his velocity and mechanics: “Honestly, there’s not much difference. With the workout program I’ve been doing, I’ve been able to hold my velocity as a starter. I’ll be anywhere from 92 to 95-96 for however many innings, five or six. When I come out of the pen, it’s normally about the same. I might be sitting a little higher, but for the most part my velocity is the same.
“I’ve never been a max-effort guy. I stay in my mechanics. I have pretty unique mechanics that allow me to get the most out of my body and my height. I feel if I stay smooth in my mechanics, the ball comes out just as well on every pitch.
“I’m really on my legs. I really propel, and force myself off the mound. That’s how I’m able to throw hard for my size. And I have a little twist that adds deception, as well helps me stay on my back side. Because of that it might appear that I’m max effort, but I can tell you firsthand I’m nowhere near max-effort. I’ve seen max-effort, and that’s not me.”
On his repertoire: “I throw mostly fours. I’ll throw an occasional two-seam, but I pitch mostly off my four-seam fastball. I feel I’m able to throw it through the zone pretty well. I get some arm-side tail, mostly to lefties, but it’s not necessarily what I’m trying to do — it’s just how it comes off my fingers at times. If anything, I have late life.
“I’m throwing a slider-cutter now. It’s a slider and anywhere from 85 to 88. My progression was… we were trying to get my slider harder. I used to throw a slider and a cutter, so we kind of banged the slider. I was throwing a cutter, but it basically developed into the slider I throw now. That’s the reason I use those two references. When I’m throwing the pitch, I think cutter, but it’s more of a true slider. It has depth to it.
“I can actually change it, depending on the count. I can make it have more depth or I can have it move more horizontally, depending on the batter and the count.
“I also throw a curveball and changeup. My changeup is still fairly new. I worked on it all spring and have gotten it to the point where it’s a good pitch, but I definitely want to get it better. It’s a four-seam circle. My curveball isn’t a true 12-6. It’s a hard curveball — anywhere from 78 to 81 — b