Blake Rivera Looks To Improve Command

Back-to-back starts at low Class A Augusta in April and June provided the Giants a tantalizing glimpse of how good 22-year-old righthander Blake Rivera can become.

In two April starts, Rivera allowed one run on three hits in a combined 10 innings. He struck out 14 and walked three. He was even more dominant in the consecutive June starts—no runs on three hits over 11.2 innings to go along with 17 strikeouts and five walks.

“Those games, I felt completely locked in,” Rivera said. “That’s how I need to throw every time I’m out there.”

Rivera owns a mid-90s fastball and a solid curveball. He’s working on improving his changeup.

“It’s been a great pitch for me sometimes,” Rivera said about his changeup. “I’ve just got to get more consistent with it.”

Farm director Kyle Haines and Rivera know he needs to improve his command. He racked up 87 strikeouts in 73 innings with Augusta but also issued 39 walks.

“It’s not like he’s wild,” Haines said. “He just needs to cut down (the walks) a little bit.”

Haines likes just about everything else about Rivera, a 2018 fourth-rounder from Wallace State (Ala.) JC. Haines sees similarities between Rivera and one of his Augusta teammates.

“He’s a little bit of a righthanded Seth Corry story,” Haines said, “where once (Rivera is) able to command the ball just a little bit better, then he’s able to put up that really eye-popping year.”

A small fracture in his lower back sidelined Rivera for much of July and August, but he returned to make three brief outings at the end of August. Haines said Rivera could get to the big club relatively quickly if he improves his command.

“He’s got the stuff that if he wants to command the strike zone and throw the ball where he wants to throw it,” Haines said, “he could be there really fast. And if he takes smaller steps, then it’ll take more time.

“I think all of us would hope for him to take some seasoning in the minor leagues, but you just never know with a guy with stuff like this.”

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