JUPITER, Fla.—Many minor league pitchers see their progress stalled by an inability to throw enough strikes. Righthander Michael Brady may have the opposite problem.
A 24th-round pick in 2009 out of California, Brady last season had to learn when to go out of the zone. He credits high Class A Jupiter pitching coach and 15-year major leaguer Joe Coleman with helping him do just that.
"Last year I think I learned more about pitching and how to set up hitters and when to throw balls as opposed to pumping fastballs for strikes," Brady said. "I also learned mixing up your pitches and changing speeds often is more effective, especially for a guy who doesn't throw upper 90s like most closers."
For a guy who lacks an overpowering fastball, Brady still struck out 10.8 Florida State League batters per nine innings. He also issued just seven walks in 53 innings.
The 26-year-old worked his way into the closer role and totaled an organization-best 22 saves.
"I've always been good at throwing strikes," said Brady, whose fastball sits at 91-92 mph. "I like to think it has a little bit of life on it. Maybe it's deceptive. Maybe it's my motion."
Brady's feel for throwing strikes is all the more remarkable because he wasn't drafted as a pitcher. He played shortstop at Cal and hadn't pitched since high school. None of the teams that spoke with him prior to the draft inquired about his ability or desire to pitch.
He totaled 35 at-bats and singled three times as an infielder in short-season ball in 2009. The Marlins saw a strong arm and tried to make Brady a catcher, but the change didn't suit him.
Brady asked if he could give pitching a go. He logged a 1.59 ERA with four walks and 25 strikeouts in 28 innings for short-season Jamestown in 2010, and the die was cast.
"The secondary stuff is something I continue to work on now," said Brady, who has incorporated a forkball to go with his sinker-slider combo. "That's the most difficult part for me."
• Outfielder Jake Marisnick fractured his left hand and will miss at least a month after being hit by a pitch during a March 6 Grapefruit League game.
• Outfielder Kolby Copeland, a third-round pick in 2012, received a 50-game suspension for failing to take an offseason drug test.