Orioles: A Conversation with AA Bowie Pitching Coach Blaine Beatty
After several years as the pitching coach for the Frederick Keys, Blaine Beatty will be moving up to AA Bowie for the 2013 season. Drafted by the Orioles in 1986 in the 9th round, he spent 11 years in the minors – mostly in AA and AAA with a combined record of 121-69. He endured all of this to pitch for a career total of 15.2 innings in 7 appearances for the NY Mets, with a 2.30 ERA. Not bad! Compare that to Jim Palmer’s career 2.86! Just sayin’.
Author’s picture of Blaine Beatty – 5/16/2011 game at Frederick – a rehab game for Brian Matusz
There is not much about the ups and downs of minor league life that Blaine Beatty has not experienced. The accumulated life lessons are more than just about baseball mechanics. That is not to say that he is not a highly experienced and perceptive pitching coach. The entire package – which includes a kindly, personable, encouraging persona – is the ideal mix for honing a young man’s talents toward eventual major league stardom.
One of Blaine’s better minor league experiences was meeting his wife Mia during a time when he was pitching for the (then) Orioles affiliate, the Hagerstown Suns. As friends of his in-laws who live in Hagerstown, I have had occasional connections with Blaine since the latter portion of his playing career, and he consented to let me ask him a few questions in anticipation of the upcoming season.
Regarding how it would seem that the Orioles organization has positioned Beatty to be at AA Bowie to work specifically with some of the top pitching talents in the system, “I know they’re going to be there, and yes, I think the Orioles are comfortable with me being there and continuing to work with the young guys. In the near future, a lot of the guys from the 2A level are the ones who are going to get there (to Baltimore). You want the bulk of your staff to be coming from the farm system.”
In terms of working with Dylan Bundy, “He’s a very confident kid … mature in how he handles himself. He knows he has a lot yet to work on. But he mixes well with the others and does not separate from the pack of the other guys.”
As to what Bundy needs to focus on at this point, “He needs to establish his ability to command the strike zone. There is no question about his stuff. He needs to see how to read hitters, set up hitters, and be consistent in the bottom part of the zone … also how to be making adjustments as the game goes on.
Beatty spent some time with Kevin Gausman also at Frederick last year, where the recent college pitcher made three appearances. “I also had some time with him in instructional league. Here’s a kid who is a little more polished. His need is to get a full season under his belt and see what that feels like. He’s a hard worker and a good kid all around. Kevin’s had some good instruction at LSU with former Orioles coach Alan Dunn – and I’ve spoken a couple of times with Alan about how to move forward.”
Beatty circled back several times to talk about how these two guys and the others at the upper levels of the system need to pitch enough innings to get the feel of both going deep into games and sustaining it throughout a long season. “They need to feel throwing those innings at this level. We want to develop pitchers who will go seven innings or better. They need that experience here, learning how to adjust in the latter innings, even if it means shutting them down at some point.” Blaine talked like the goal was for them to pitch around 150 innings this year.
When asked about others in the system that he has seen that he is excited about, he mentioned Mike Wright … “who was promoted about half-way through last year; he’s got some special stuff too.” Beatty also mentioned Branden Kline … “who was on pace, but had a surgery setback.”
I asked Blaine if it was a specific Orioles strategy to include some “reclamation projects” … asking if he and his colleagues in the system strategize to breathe new life into some guys and push them over some long-term obstacles. “Oh yes, definitely, we talk about that all the time. We are always looking to see what is holding someone back … is it mechanics, is it the way they throw when holding runners … whatever. Dan and Buck made some great moves bringing guys in, like Miguel Gonzalez – who I saw throw in the spring, and I was really impressed with his stuff.”
The fans are certainly excited for the new season, but what is Beatty most looking forward to? “I’m excited about going to the Orioles big league camp for the first time and meeting all the major league staff, along with seeing the young guys there.”
That does sound like something to be excited about. If any of our readers are in the Bowie area and know of a housing rental situation, let me know and I’ll pass it on … as that is an annual challenge for these guys who live in other places like Texas, in Blaine’s case.
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