Counting On Comfort

Gorgen gains confidence in his curveball





ST. LOUIS—Righthander Scott Gorgen knew he was on to something when he felt comfortable enough with his curveball to fire it with a full count.

Gorgen, 23, entered the Cardinals system sporting a plus changeup—"my bread and butter," he said—and a fastball with enough accuracy to get ahead in the count and enough movement to invite meek contact. His curve was a forgotten pitch, a vestigial remnant from high school. And it would have stayed that way had new Double-A Springfield pitching coach Dennis Martinez not told Gorgen that he needed something new, a third pitch, to advance.

"Dennis Martinez was really on me, saying if I was going to stay a starter I had to have a third pitch of some kind, a third pitch that I could trust and that I could throw in any count," Gorgen said. "The curve became that pitch."

Through a month of play, Gorgen headlined a successful rotation in Springfield, starting 5-0, 1.21 through five starts. The righty had 31 strikeouts and 10 walks in 30 innings. Twice he had pitched seven innings and held the opponent to a run or fewer.

The Cardinals took Gorgen in the fourth round of the 2008 draft out of UC Irvine. Often confused for his twin brother Matt, Scott Gorgen is the shorter of the two brothers who is asked to work longer into a game. He found his calling as a starter in college, while Matt threw with more velocity, more max effort and was more like a reliever.

That's where he learned to love his changeup, and how it became a plus pitch for him. He fooled around with a slider but felt it put too much stress on his elbow and tempted him to throw it too hard. That was how he returned to the curve, with Martinez's help. Gorgen pulled out tapes of Martinez throwing during his all-star career and saw that the righty "mixed all of his pitches in to be successful, and to be successful I have to mix all of my pitches in."

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• With his big league debut in late April, outfielder Jon Jay became the 19th member of the Springfield's 2007 Texas League championship roster to reach the majors.

• Scott Schneider, a 20th-round pick last summer, won the organization's pitcher of the month award for April after going 2-0, 0.39 for low Class A Quad Cities. In three months of pro ball, the righty has won two organization awards.