RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.—Grant Holmes has the stuff.
He’s just learning to harness it.
The Dodgers’ No. 6 prospect flashed a fastball up to 95 mph Saturday night for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, but allowed seven hits and five runs—three earned—over six innings and took the loss in a 5-4 defeat to Inland Empire.
“He’s mechanically been working on a few things that have helped him become more efficient with his body so he doesn’t rely on his big arm to make up for inadequacies in his delivery,” said Rancho Cucamonga pitching coach Kip Wells, the former major leaguer. “He’s got to allow himself to make the adjustment and then implement it throughout the whole game and not go in and out of it. His last few outings he’s moved in the right direction.”
Holmes, 20, walked one and struck out five, flashing a wipeout slider and hard changeup as secondary offerings and throwing 62 of his 98 pitches for strikes. The Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2014 is now 4-3, 3.30.
Holmes threw 95 often in the middle innings, but struggled to locate consistently at that velocity. The majority of his strikes came in the 92-93 range, with the occasional 94 up in the zone getting batters to chase high. He kept his velocity past the 90-pitch mark and into his sixth and final inning.
“I’ve been working on my mechanics a little bit and just I think the 95s were going up,” Holmes said. “I usually do work around 92-93. That’s where it feels most comfortable.”
While tantalizing at times, Holmes got hurt for losing his control on occasion.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth, Holmes got ahead of Michael Strentz 0-2 but hit him with a 95 mph fastball when he tried to go up and in, forcing home the first run of the game.
The hardest hit ball off Holmes all night, a triple by Zach Welz into the gap in left-center field, came on a changeup he left up in the zone.
Still, it was progress. The one walk and one hit batter continued a trend of improved command for Holmes, who averaged 5.1 walks per nine innings in his first four starts compared to 1.6 walks per nine over his past seven outings.
“First couple starts I couldn’t find the zone as well as I can now,” he said. “I feel more consistent, more confident with my pitches now.”
Holmes’ main secondary pitch was an 80-82 mph slider that bit in hard to lefties and often had them swinging over the top of it, although righthanded hitters largely avoided chasing when he tried burying it in the dirt.
That two-pitch mix made up most of Holmes’ night, but he did mix in an 85-88 mph changeup on certain two-strike counts.
While his final line wasn’t the prettiest, the night represented another step in Holmes’ progression and maturation.
“He’s doing a good job,” Wells said. “He’s a young kid and he’s got a good assortment of pitches. He’s had some tough luck numbers-wise … but he works hard, he changes speeds, he understands the game beyond his years at 20.”
NEWS AND NOTES
Rancho Cucamonga outfielder Johan Mieses, the Dodgers’ No. 12 prospect, went 0-for-4 to with two strikeouts and two groundouts to drop his average to .251 on the year. The muscular 20-year old Dominican has struck out in 24 percent of his plate appearances this season, although he does have a .786 OPS.
“He’s so strong, so physically gifted, sometimes he can fall in love with trying to pull for power,” Rancho Cucamonga manager Drew Saylor said. “It comes with age and development and maturation more than anything else. It takes time for guys to understand sometimes less is more. We’re looking for consistency. It’s going to come.”
Inland Empire reliever Adam Hofacket, the Angels’ No. 24 prospect, pitched two scoreless innings for his second save. The 22-year-old righthander showed a 93-94 mph fastball and 84-86 mph slider and alternated a three-quarters delivery with an over-the-top delivery, adding downward tilt to both pitches and getting multiple swings over the top. He didn’t allow a hit, walked one and struck out three.