Pirates prospect interview: Clay Holmes

Clay Holmes

Right-hander Clay Holmes has gotten off to a strong start for the State College Spikes. A 19-year-old who signed for $1 million last year, Holmes is 4-1 with a 0.83 ERA. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko spoke with Holmes recently.

GVB – You finally got your career underway after signing late last season. Were you anxious to get out on the mound and get started?

CH – I was, last summer I really didn't do much baseball. I went to Instructional League and it's been awhile since I got into a game and was actually able to compete on the mound. It's definitely been fun and I was ready to get started.

GVB – You have to be pleased about the start to your career, are you pleased with the way you are pitching?

CH – Yeah definitely, I've learned a lot and I'm just able to go out there and be aggressive and get out early off my fastball. I've had a couple starts where I was able to grind a start out and not give up those big innings on nights where I don't really have my best stuff. It's been a great start so far.

GVB – You are using a three-pitch mix, fastball, change up and curve ball. I know the Pirates put an emphasis in the minors on fastball command. Has that been the case with you?

CH – Definitely, that's a big reason for my success. I've used the fastball and used it effectively. Use the fastball early in counts and I've been getting ahead with it, or getting early outs and that has kept my pitch count low in most of my starts. I've been aggressive when I've had my command and have had success and a big reason is I've been able to pitch off my fastball.

GVB – What is your velocity on your fastball when you are throwing well?

CH – Probably around 90 to 93.

GVB – Understand you use your big frame very well. At 6-foot-5 and 230 you really make good use of that downward plane don't you?

CH – Yes, that's one thing I've gotten a lot of ground balls this year with that angle I create. I guess that's a big reason why I get a lot of outs with my fastball.

GVB – I hear that your change up has been very effective.

CH – It has come along. It is something that I really worked on in extended spring training this year. So my arm speed has been really good and that pitch has helped me when my fastball command wasn't there. It's definitely come a long way and I'm getting more and more comfortable with it as the season goes on.

GVB – I here that all three of your pitches have a real strong cutting movement .

CH – Yeah, the curve ball when I get two strikes I use as a strikeout pitch and I've been throwing it aggressive and trying to get it down and that's one reason why I feel pretty good that the movement has been pretty good on my curve ball. I've been aggressive with it and not really trying to locate. Throwing my change up with my arm speed, that creates a lot of really good stuff with the movement and the deception. That is what is happening with those two pitches.

GVB – When you were at Instructional League was there anything in particular they had you working on?

CH – I guess since it was the first time that I was actually on the mound, they hadn't really seen me much. They really just wanted to get a feel for me down there. There were a few small things, nothing real big. They were just trying to get a feel for me and how I pitch.

GVB – You are just out of high school. Is there anything that has caught you by surprise in the Minor Leagues?

CH – Not really. It's been a smooth transition with the Spikes. Everyday coming to the ballpark, everybody has to get used to, even the college guys. Other than that it has been pretty smooth.

GVB – Has the travel been tough to get used too?

CH – The travel can take a toll on your body. I do a lot of things to help recover, that is something that I have been focusing on, and so has the team. Especially a lot of the young guys that haven't traveled much like that. You stay on top of the recovery stuff. The bus rides have been long and it's the first time I've ever done that.

GVB – You've just got started with your career, do you have any sort of timetable for yourself?

CH – I'm just taking things as they come. I'm trying to go from start to start and just see how things go. Just work on whatever I need to work on and get that done.

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