New Slider Propels Adonis Medina

Last season, when righthander Adonis Medina made his final start for short-season Williamsport, he incorporated a new slider. The pitch, hatched by pitching coach Hector Berrios, was an attempt to combat Medina’s low strikeout rate. The righthander struck out seven batters, which equaled his total from his previous four starts combined.

Medina played with the slider all winter while in the Dominican Republic. His results this season at low Class A Lakewood are proof of its importance.

“Now, I feel like I have a couple of pitches to strike out hitters,” Medina said through a coach’s translation. “I have the slider and the fastball. Before, I depended on my fastball too much.”

Medina, signed for $70,000 in 2014 by international scouting director Sal Agostinelli and his crew, has emerged as a success story in 2017. His strikeout rate climbed from 4.7 per nine innings last season to 10.7 this year through 15 starts. His walk rate shrunk slightly from 3.3 to 3.2 per nine innings.

The product was a 3.32 ERA through 81.1 innings.

Lakewood pitching coach Brian Sweeney has mentored many high-ceiling pitchers who have come through the lower levels of the system during the last two seasons. He sees immense potential in Medina, with his expanded arsenal.

Medina’s fastball sits at 94-96 mph, but he is susceptible to command hiccups. He has hit 10 batters and fired eight wild pitches. But the overall progress is there.

“He’s doing a good job of throwing strikes with his fastball that, in turn, makes the hitters aggressive (enough to) swing at his offspeed,” Sweeney said. “It’s not just his slider either. I like his changeup. A lot. He has a curveball he’s been mixing in as well.”

Medina, 20, already has reached a career high for starts in a season. The Phillies will limit his innings, but Medina said he was prepared to pitch deeper into the summer.

“I want to finish strong and healthy,” Medina said. “I don’t know if they’ll move me up or not. It’s not in my power. But my goal is to finish healthy and pitching.”


• Lakewood lefthander Nick Fanti participated in his second no-hitter of the season on July 17. This time he was allowed to finish the job. In his first such start on May 6, he threw 8.2 innings of a combined team no-hitter. The 20-year-old Fanti does not throw hard but features exceptional command.

• Triple-A Lehigh Valley Mark Appel walked five of the nine batters he faced in a July 5 start and landed on the disabled list soon after with a strained right shoulder. He had a 5.27 ERA through 17 starts.

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