[ MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ]
Making their best pitch
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of five stories on Hawaii's minor league players
Right-handed pitchers Steve Bryant, Kea Kometani and Ricky Bauer experienced some success in their first season of professional baseball.
Reid Santos and Clary Carlsen continued to make progress. Chad Bailey took time to get into a good groove and Will Quaglieri saw little action following shoulder surgery.
Bryant, a 20th-round pick by the Oakland Athletics this year, went from starting pitcher at Hawaii to reliever with the Vancouver Canadians in the short-season Class A Northwest League.
The Chico, Calif., resident allowed less than one hit per inning (24 in 29 2/3), walked just seven and fanned 34. He finished with a 3-3 record and 3.03 earned-run average.
"The season went well, although it wasn't what I expected," Bryant said. "I expected it to be tougher, but coming from a good college program it wasn't."
Bryant was Vancouver's primary closer for a couple of weeks, had four saves, then became the holder, entering the game in the sixth or seventh inning to keep the status quo until the ninth.
"There was a little bit of an adjustment. I didn't have time to establish my pitches in the game. I had to do that in the bullpen, then go right after the hitters, get ahead (in the count) and get them out with the curveball," said Bryant.
Kometani will go to instructional league to become familiar with the Texas Rangers' offseason conditioning program for pitchers. He was with the Spokane Indians in the Northwest League for two games, then was sent to the Clinton Lumberkings in the low Class A Midwest League for the remainder of the summer.
"It was a shock being transferred so quick. I was just getting used to pro baseball," said Kometani, a 15th-round pick in June following his senior year at Pepperdine.
The starter's combined statistics were 64 1/3 innings in 15 games with a 2.38 ERA and a 3-2 record. A big plus was his 56 strikeouts to 15 walks.
"I think the stats ended up being a little better than I expected. I pitched the way I've pitched the last couple of years," said Kometani, a Punahou graduate. "I felt good. I'm trying to learn as fast as I can.
"I couldn't have asked for more my rookie year. It was kind of a roller-coaster ride, but it was a lot of fun."
Bauer spent most of the summer getting over tendinitis in his right shoulder. He also battled boredom, since he appeared in only six games for the Arizona League Giants after being signed as a nondrafted free agent.
Bauer allowed three hits, no earned runs or walks and struck out 12 in 8 1/3 innings. He won his only decision.
He is back in Arizona for instructional league.
"I did OK, did the best I could, one inning at a time," said Bauer, who played for Mid-Pacific Institute and the Hawaii Rainbows. "They said my mechanics were good and it was nice to finally throw pain-free. I was pleased with what I did in the second half."
The Giants want the right-hander to improve his breaking ball in instructional league. They want his slider to be a bit sharper with late action.
Carlsen (UH) began the year in the bullpen with the Clearwater Threshers in the High Class A Florida State League, had success there, then asked to join the starting rotation when the need arose.
"I did well as a spot starter, then joined the rotation. I prefer to come out of the pen because you play every night, but our starters weren't doing that well," said Carlsen, in his second year with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
"It was a good season and I learned how to take care of my body in a long season."
Carlsen worked on controlling his breaking ball better and developing a changeup.
"The changeup came along well. It's a big learning experience. That's what the minors are for," said Carlsen.
Reid Santos was the workhorse of the pitching staff for the Lake County Captains, the Cleveland Indians affiliate in the low Class A South Atlantic League.
The left-hander from Castle led the Captains with 27 starts, 147 2/3 innings, 168 hits, 93 runs, 81 earned runs and 127 strikeouts. He finished with a 5-8 record and a 4.94 ERA.
"I struggled for the first month. I wasn't throwing my offspeed pitches for strikes, wasn't getting ahead in the count," Santos said.
"I made some adjustments and things got better. I was able to get my curve and changeup in for strikes."
Santos tied the Captains single-game high for strikeouts with 11 in 6 2/3 innings Aug. 24. His walk (48) to strikeout (127) ratio was impressive.
"I've always been good at not walking people, but I was pretty surprised about the strikeouts. I'm not much of a strikeout pitcher, more like Tom Glavine," Santos said.
Bailey, in his third pro year, started the season with the Vero Beach Dodgers in the Florida State League but struggled with a 13.06 ERA.
The left-hander from Campbell High School was transferred to the Columbus (Ga.) Catfish in the South Atlantic League, where his ERA improved to 4.93 in 19 games. He had a 2-4 record.
Quaglieri (UH, Loyola Marymount) did not pitch until August because of offseason surgery to correct an impingement (scrape out bone fragments) in his right shoulder.
He pitched a total of three innings in one game for the Mets in the Gulf Coast League and one game for the Kingsport (Tenn.) Mets in the Appalachian League, but the pain remained in his shoulder.
"I need to build arm strength. I will work out and see how it feels by spring training before I decided whether or not to move on," said Quaglieri.
He and former Rainbow Wahine soccer player Kelly Keohen are getting married Nov. 26. She is a fourth-grade teacher in the Los Angeles area.