Indians lefthander Scott Lewis was rocked around at Double-A Erie on Monday, giving up five extra-base hitsâ€”including a first-inning, three-run home run to Sea Wolves second baseman Michael Hollimonâ€”in just three innings of Akronâ€™s 9-4 loss.
Lewis, who led all the minors with a 1.48 ERA at high Class A Kinston last season, allowed five runs on seven hits in the abbreviated outing and according to Akron pitching coach Greg Hibbard, is still a work in progress despite the gaudy numbers.
â€œPhysically and delivery-wise there are some things weâ€™re working on,â€ Hibbard said. â€œOne thing he wants to get better at is throwing his curveball for strikes more, heâ€™d like to throw his changeup more to get outs. Heâ€™s using them both and heâ€™s not afraid to throw them . . . heâ€™s just not real confident that theyâ€™re going to get outs.
â€œHeâ€™s so good with his fastball to both sides of the plate at 88-89 (mph) and heâ€™s very fluid. For him to get to the next level, heâ€™s going to have to command a second or a third offspeed pitch.â€
In addition to not fully trusting his secondary pitches, the other area of ongoing concern with Lewis is the durability factor. The 23-year-old had Tommy John surgery during his sophomore season at Ohio State, then had several bouts with minor biceps tendinitis during his first two seasons in the system. The Indians have taken a baby steps approach with Lewis, who won the 2006 ERA title in just 116 innings, limiting his pitch count considerably in Kinston last season. The 2004 third-rounder is up to 70 pitches now, which the club hopes to expand to 90 next month.
â€œHeâ€™s just getting back into the feel of things and heâ€™s bouncing back a lot quicker (between starts),â€ Hibbard said. â€œThe ultimate goal for me would be for him to go into a full side day where heâ€™s throwing off the mound between starts.
â€œRight now heâ€™s just doing some flat ground stuff and it seems to be working for him and heâ€™s bouncing back. Iâ€™m continually getting feedback from him just to see where heâ€™s at from outing to outing and itâ€™s something we obviously have to monitor very closely based on how he feels.â€
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