From The BA Archives: The Great Debate
Ten years ago, Alan Schwarz spoke with Eddie Bane, Gary Hughes, Gary Huckabay and Voros McCracken to discuss the risks of high school pitchers, the use of minor league statistics, […]
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While Garrett Mock hasn't exactly been putting up dominating numbers in the California League, he certainly has come a long way from pitching on one leg.
Mock, who broke his right ankle during his junior season at Houston yet continued to pitch on it for a month, is now in his second pro season with the Diamondbacks.
A third-round pick in 2004, Mock is now 8-4, 4.20 in 114 innings at high Class A Lancaster--one of the best hitting ballparks in the Cal League.
Mock allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out six in the JetHawks' 4-3 win against Modesto yesterday.
He features a heavy 91-94 mph fastball with plenty of sink that can touch 97, and his secondary pitches came along during his last year at Houston when he was forced to make adjustments while compensating for pitching on a bad wheel.
We recently caught up with Mock to talk about what it was like pitching on a broken ankle, pitching in a hitter's paradise and what his challenges are in life outside the ballpark.
On pitching with one good leg: "During PFP (pitcher's fielding practice), I had some new spikes on, and I turned to throw to first and my ankle just snapped in half. It didn't hurt me at first because the break wasn't that bad, but something was definitely wrong because I couldn't run. I had to start the next day, so I just taped it up and ended up throwing a complete game. At the time, it was my draft year and I was looking forward to getting drafted and having a little financial stability. So I just went for it. My mentality was, 'Well, if I can land on it, I can pitch.' I wasn't going to tell anybody because I didn't want anybody bunting on me. So everybody kept their mouths shut and I didn't tell any scouts. I had two more starts--going eight and then six innings. Then I took about three weeks off and came back wearing a boot, similar to the one (Philadelphia Eagles quarterback) Donovan McNabb wore when he broke his fibula. I was throwing bullpens with that boot on. I came back and pitched on it a couple times. There's my life story for you."
On developing pitches due to the injury: "I think it was a blessing in disguise. Before, I was just throwing the crap out of the ball and not really pitching. When I broke that foot, I couldn't just go out there and wing it. I had to make sure my mechanics were right. I started pitching. I didn't throw a changeup before, but I started throwing a changeup, learned a cut fastball. Because I had to go through that, I added two more pitches. Going through something like that, it makes you battle a little bit more."
On pitching in the launching pad that is Lancaster: "Well, it's really windy. I didn't have a clue about how windy it was. I didn't believe it until I got there. We've got screens falling over in batting practice, dust storms--I mean it's horrible. I gave up a lot of home runs early. The thing I decided was I'm supposed to be a power pitcher and if hitters hit a pop fly to right field and it goes out by fifty feet, you're kind of like 'you don't have to spank me too many times before I figure out what I'm doing wrong.' You just keep pounding them."
On his biggest challenges outside the game: "Baseball is what I've done my whole life. And now that I'm growing up and getting older, there are a lot of other things. I just got engaged to my high school sweetheart and there are a lot of things going on there. The biggest challenge is trying to find out what you want to do 10 years from now. If baseball's happening, what do I want? If baseball's not happening, then what am I going to do? How am I going to finish school? The biggest thing outside baseball is figuring out what you want to do when it's done because it's not going to be around forever. My fiancée and I are trying to figure out where we're going to live right now, then it's trying to figure out when we're going to have kids, when are we going to get a dog and on and on. That's the toughest thing about life outside of baseball."
• Neil Walker is swinging a hot bat for Hickory. The Pirates' first-rounder in 2004 went 3-for-4 last night with his 8th homer in helping Hickory defeat Rome 4-1. The catcher has seen his average rise every month this season and is now hitting .276, however, it appears to be at the expense of his plate discipline. The 19-year-old has only 14 walks on the season, and has not drawn one since May.
• If only Edward Ovalle could face Greeneville every night. The Twins center fielder is 6-for-9 with two home runs and five RBIs in his last two games against Greeneville, both victories for Rookie-level Elizabethton of the Appalachian League. The 20-year-old, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2002, is now hitting .352/.439/.592.
• Astros righthander Jason Hirsch tossed his first career complete game in Double-A Corpus Christi’s 1-0 win against Springfield. A 2003 second-round pick out of California Lutheran, the 6-foot-8 righty allowed three hits and struck out 11, improving to 8-6, 3.11 on the season.
• Rick Ankiel update: The former top pitching prospect in the Cardinals system went 2-for-2 with a double and his 10th home run in low Class A Quad Cities 10-3 win against Cedar Rapids last night. Ankiel, who turns 26 next week, is batting .295/.394/.612 in 129 at-bats for the Swing.
• Indians first baseman Stephen Head hit a home run for the fourth time in five games last night, hitting the sixth home run of his brief pro career in short-season Mahoning Valley’s 5-2 loss to Oneonta last night. The second-round pick out of Mississippi is batting .432/.533/1.027 in 37 at-bats for the Scrapper with 11 runs and 14 RBIs in 10 games.
• Mets righthander Philip Humber made his Double-A debut last night at Binghamton. The first-round pick last year allowed three runs on four hits, struck out two and walked two in a 3-2 loss to Norwich.