This is the fifth and final part of our interview with Pat Hentgen. To see the other parts, click on the links: Part one, part two, part three and part four.
Thanks again to Minor Leaguer for setting this up.
It isn't everyday that I get to talk to a player that I admired and has two World Series rings. It was very nice of him to speak to me and share his knowledge.
If anyone from the Jays reads this, Hentgen would be a great choice for a front office job and/or roving pitching instructor. Or a job in the TV broadcast booth.
Hentgen is number 8 on our Top 50 Jays list. I've always had the idea that interviewing each of the 50 would be great. 49 to go.
Thank you, Pat, for doing this.
Can I ask about some of the young pitchers you saw in the minors? Kyle Drabek?
I saw him briefly in spring training.
Oh right you weren't in New Hampshire.
No, actually was supposed to go and I stepped on that funnel. I was supposed to go there and be interim pitching coach for 5 days. I would have had a chance to see him and Stewart and all the other guys.
Chad is a big body guy. He's big, he's strong, he throws downhill. He's got a good sink. I haven't seen him on a day where he had his good slider, but obviously he has a good slider too. The two times I seen him pitch in games and on the side, he didn't have it. So I think, just from my assessment, I think that he's got to get more consistent with his secondary pitches. Everyone tells you you could improve you location with your fastball. Those are the two keys for pitching. Locating your fastball and whatever secondary pitch you want. It is one of those things. He's young, he's learning how to pitch right now. He's learning how to weather the load of 35 starts and 210 innings, that type of thing. Time will tell. He's got a big body. I know that.
Mills has a great curveball, again struggles with his fastball command at times. He's got a great changeup too. He's got two good secondary pitches but without fastball command, you just can't go up there and throw hook, changeup, hook, changeup. You gotta eventually throw the heater. I think he going to struggle with consistency until he irons out that fastball command. But overall what's not to like, he's left-handed, he's deceptive, he's got a great hook, he's got a good fish. He throws mid to high 80's. I'm not so sure he's going to be a perennial starting pitcher in the big leagues, but I think he could be a serviceable lefty long man reliever. Maybe a fourth or fifth starter. Right now on the Blue Jays, maybe a fifth starter actually. That I really don't know, those are decisions made by the front office. And the new manager.
What pitchers should we take notice of?
Let's see there is a kid name (Drew) Hutchison that's in Lansing. He's young, he's wiry. He's little, he's not real big right now, but he's going to put on weight. He's a high school shortstop. I saw him when we first signed him and man he just pounds the strike zone. And as a high school shortstop. I was really impressed with him. He reminded me a little bit of Marcum. The way Marcum was. Marcum came up and signed in pro ball and was just out of sight with his strike throwing ability. He threw strikes and strikes and strikes. At that time he threw 90. 91, 92 and everyone knows he doesn't throw hard like that anymore. But the thing about Hutchison, is that he's been a shortstop and is only about 18 or 19 year old. He really never pitched, he was a kid from Lakeland that they saw him pitch on a mound and they said ‘wow look at this guy's arm'. He's throwing low mid 90's and he hasn't really done any of the intense rehab program that the professional level puts you on. So he's just a high school kid that warming up throwing that, so you sign a guy like that you are thinking he's going to be a little better. He's going to be 21, 22 years old he's going to put on that mass strength. It makes a big difference. I know for myself, I signed at 17 and I remember how I was and how I felt at 22. I felt a lot better. Physically I felt a lot stronger and better. And that is what the minor league seasons will do, for our pitchers to develop them and make them better.
So Hutchison, another guy named (Daniel) Webb. There is a kid named (Alan) Farina, that's got a really good arm. He's got a pretty darn good tight slider. Zach Stewart, I talked to the Double-A pitching coach. Zach is really throwing the ball really well. He's got plus stuff too. He's got a knockout slider and a really good fastball. They've got some really good depth there.
Dean Dane Johnson, Dean Dane deserves to get some props . Dean is a guy I played with in the minor leagues back in the mid 80s. He was a first round pick in 85 I think. We played together in A-ball for a couple of year and he struggled with his control and I think he made it up to the White Sox at age 30. But I'll tell you what, Dean has done a great job with the fundamentals and the basics. Really instilling in the minor league pitchers how important that is. And he's done a great job developing these pitchers. So I'd like you to put in there that Dean deserves a little, he really does. You don't hear about him because he's not at the major league level, but boy has he done a nice job. We just keep throwing guys up from the minor leagues and they're blending in pretty good in the big leagues. That's really a nice compliment to him.
I wanted to ask about J.P. Arencibia, about his ability as a catcher?
I like him, I was in Vegas, I talked to a lot of the pitchers and they all loved throwing to him. So I mean that's one of the biggest hurdles. When you can get a bunch of pitchers that are all in Triple-A, keep in mind the guys in Triple-A aren't always the happiest guys in the organization. They are guys that feel like they could be there, whatever. A lot of times you get a lot of negative talk, but for lack of a better word that's what you get. There was nothing negative said about JP in April, from Vegas, from any of the pitchers. So that tells you right there that that's a good sign. Second of all, he can't do any more in the minor leagues offensively. I don't know what more you can do. So it's time for him to step up and take that job or make a position change or possibly trade. I have no idea. Again that's a front office decision. But I like him.
Thank you for this.