Soto Focuses On Fastball Command
Indians lefty learning importance of location
CLEVELAND—Giovanni Soto's pitching coach has spent a majority of the season reiterating the need for the lefthander to focus on his fastball command.
Double-A Akron pitching coach Tony Arnold had been harping on the fact, telling Soto that in order to find consistency, he needed to rely more on his fastball command to set up his secondary pitches.
A funny thing happened when Soto, a native of Puerto Rico, finally bought completely into the theory. On July 15, the 21-year-old became the first Aeros pitcher to throw a solo no-hitter in Canal Park in Akron's 2-1 victory over visiting Altoona.
"Tony has done a pretty good job with me, preaching that I've got to have good fastball command," said Soto, who the Indians acquired from the Tigers in 2010 for infielder Jhonny Peralta. "So I finally made the adjustment and threw my fastball with good command."
Soto had been paired that Sunday afternoon with Aeros reserve catcher Michel Hernandez, a veteran instructed to keep fastball command high on Soto's priority list for the day.
"Giovanni had very good fastball command all game," Hernandez said. "We used the fastball and cutter mostly, not too many changeups . . . He was doing so well by the sixth, seventh innings, I knew he could go the whole game."
Afterward, while Soto was still somewhat in shock over what he'd just accomplished, Hernandez was overjoyed.
"It's very exciting for me because it's my first (no hitter)," said Hernandez, a Cuba, native whose career has spanned 15 seasons, including a combined 40 games in the major leagues with the Rays in 2008 and 2009.
"Between innings Soto told me, 'Hey, when I go too far away (from the strike zone), you come tell me.'
"I said O.K., but the first guy he walked I didn't go out because I wanted him to figure it out for himself first, and he did."
• Triple-A righthander Cody Allen made his major league debut in Cleveland July 20 against the visiting Orioles. Allen, 23, was a 23rd-round pick in 2011 out of High Point. In 31 relief appearances over three minor league levels, Allen was a combined 3-2, 1.87 with three saves. For more on Allen's rise to the big leagues, see Page 10.
• The Indians were awarded the second pick in the second group of supplemental draft picks awarded in the first-ever Competitive Balance Lottery. The pick will come after the second round of the draft.