There are developmental benefits to adversity if handled the right way, and righthander Sean Reid-Foley is determined to turn his early 2017 pains into long-term gains.
Certainly, the 22-year-old managed to rescue his season after a troubling first six starts at Double-A New Hampshire, during which he managed just 15 innings while allowing 14 runs, all but one earned, on 22 hits and 14 walks with 16 strikeouts.
Since lasting just two-thirds of an inning on May 4 versus Binghamton at the end of that stretch, Reid-Foley had steadily and methodically corrected. Beginning May 10 against Hartford, when he threw five innings of one-run ball and struck out seven, he recorded a 3.90 ERA in 92.1 innings with 79 strikeouts over a 16-start stretch.
While that turnaround won’t be fully reflected in his overall numbers, learning to overcome those initial struggles may in the long term prove to be far more valuable than a season of success from start to finish.
“The first month taught me a lot,” said Reid-Foley, a 2014 second-round pick out of high school in Jacksonville, “and it will for sure help me in the long run if I ever run into that, whether it’s next year or the year after that or, let’s say in the big leagues.
“I know what I have to do to get back on track, so it’s not a crazy time again like it was this year.”
New Hampshire pitching coach Vince Horsman was among those to help him through the challenges, talking him through tendencies to nitpick at his mechanics and trying to be too fine on the mound, rather than pitching with his trademark aggressiveness.
Being more consistent with commanding his fastball that can be dominant remains one key for Reid-Foley, as is developing his secondary pitches, particularly a changeup to complement his curveball and slider, one of which is typically on during his outings.
Reid-Foley also carried over gains in his routine and off-day work practices, and built upon them.
“Day to day, me and Vince would talk, but it was never 20 things. It was always one thing: repeat your delivery and get over the baseball,” Reid-Foley said. “Once we started doing that, we started adding other stuff.
“If I could have gotten out of it in three weeks, (things would have been) a lot better,” Reid-Foley said. “But it took me about six weeks to get out of it. I just knew when it was all said and done I was going to get better this year, because it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”