Here’s my entire chat with Yankees pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras from about a week or so ago…
TT: As a whole, how pleased are you with this Trenton staff so far?
Nardi: “I’m pleased with every staff in our organization. This is a nice staff that they have here. Real good starters, and they have real good relievers. There’s a bunch of guys that are going to pitch in the big leagues someday.”
TT: Jason Jones, Chase Wright and (at the time) Dan McCutchen all seem to be fighting to establish themselves as the #1 starter on this club. How would you assess their performances so far?
Nardi: “Every one of them has pitched well. Records and stats and stuff, I don’t know. When I come here, I just try to get things ready so that they’re able to pitch in the big leagues. To me, they’re all top line pitchers here. They’re all prospects. They’re all going to be able to pitch in the big leagues. I guess I’m happy with all of them.”
TT: With McCutchen specifically, there’s been a lot of hype around him. What are your thoughts on him?
Nardi: “I’ve only seen him once, I saw his worst outing. So if I’ve got to go off of what I saw, it wasn’t very good. But if you go to his history, his history is real good. So I’m going to write my report on what I saw, but the history of what he pitches and how he pitches will tell me what I saw is really not how he pitches.”
TT: Mark Melancon’s another one of those guys with a lot of hype around him…
Nardi: “He went to college as a reliever and did well. The day before yesterday was his first outing in Double-A ball and he struck out four in two innings, so I guess he did really well. I look at deliveries, I look at pitches — will he be able to repeat with that delivery, and will he be able to get people out with the pitches that they have. That’s what I look at. The numbers, the numbers will take care of themselves later or sooner, whatever it may be. But we’ve got some guys that are going to pitch in the big leagues.”
TT: With Melancon’s delivery specifically, there’s kind of a catapult action to it, it’s a little long in the back…
Nardi: “He’s a little long, yes he is. He has a long arm, that’s what he has, but he generates a lot of power. He’s got a lot of life with his two seamer, he’s got sink, he’s got a nasty curveball, and he’s developing a changeup now.”
TT: What makes that curveball so successful?
Nardi: “The way he throws it. There might someone else that does it and throws it similar to him and his arm action, but doesn’t have the snap on his fingers and his wrist to snap off the curveball. He has it where he throws it really well.”
TT: Are there guys under Trenton in Tampa or even Charleston that you feel will be up here soon?
Nardi: “There’s a few guys, but to be here soon, I don’t know. Throughout the whole organization, everybody’s pitching well. How are we going to knock out Dan Giese out of Scranton’s team when he’s got an ERA of about an 0.90? Then you’ve got all these five starters here, and then you’ve got the guys in Tampa, and some guys in Charleston. Really, everybody can move, but everybody above them is pitching well. If they take somebody to the big leagues, then we can fill in. But it’s hard to say how soon, how quickly. But some time, it’s going to happen and there’s going to be some movement.”
TT: Do you think we’ll see Kevin Whelan here soon?
Nardi: “It took a month and a half to get Melancon here. Whelan’s got to gain some arm strength. He pitched a couple of innings last night, and he pitched well. That was the second time he’s pitched in Tampa. He’s pitching every third day to build up arm strength. I know his slider’s good and his split’s good, and he threw strikes with his fastball. But he’s got to gain some arm strength.”
TT: Is there anyone in the system that’s really impressed you or surprised you so far?
Nardi: “Surprised…pretty much, all of them kind of impress. But surprise? I know the guys that we get, that we draft, and I’ve seen them pitch. So when they pitch well, it’s really no surprise because they’re learning deliveries and learning pitches. So when they go out and they pitch well, there’s no surprise. I kind of expect a lot of these guys to have success. They’re all going to have bad games, like I told you about McCutchen the other day, but I just saw him on a bad day. But I can’t think of a surprise. I think everybody has pitched really well, and it’s no surprise. They should be pitcing well, at least that’s the way I feel.”
TT: One thing I’ve learned this year is that a lot of the concern around Chase Wright’s development centers around his breaking ball. What’s your take on its progression?
Nardi: “He threw the ball…when he was down, and he finished his breaking ball last night, that was the breaking ball that we’re working with for him to succeed with. He left a few of them up, and when you leave them up, they’re no good. But he didn’t get hurt with the breaking ball, but when he was down and finishing, he threw the quality breaking ball that we’ve been working on for about a year and a half now for him to develop. I saw it last night, and he got some swings and misses last night. He showed it, now he has to be consistent with it.”
TT: Based on what you did see, did you see someone who can help at the big league level later this season?
Nardi: “We’ve got a bunch of guys who can help at the big league level. There’s guys at Triple-A who could help right now in the big leagues He’s got a bunch of people to jump over to succeed. Igawa had success in Triple-A ball, but it’s a different animal, a different story in the big leagues. Yesterday, he got a loss, but he gave up two runs in six innings. But you can’t make the same mistakes in Triple-A and Double-A ball and have success in the big leagues. Yesterday, Chase pitched seven innings and gave up three runs, I think it was, but he made some mistakes up in the zone. I see how that would work out at Triple-A, how that would work out in the big leagues. It’s my eyes that tell me what’s going to go on and what’s happening. There’s a lot of guys that have pitched really well at Triple-A that I’d say could go up and help with the big club.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com