Drew Storen appeared on the MLB Network Radio "Hot Stove" show Saturday afternoon with Mel Altonen and Jeff Rickard, talking about his winter at Stanford and his preparation for Spring Training. The Nats' '09 1st Round pick, who made his debut last May after just 41 games and 15 saves in the Nationals' system doesn't seem satisfied with having arrived in the majors, telling the hosts he's been working to learn from what he experienced last season, "I wouldn't say I feel like comfortable or anything like that, but I have more of an idea of what's going on this year. I kinda was really wide-eyed last year with everything, and [now] feel like I can work on things a little bit more. You know one of things that I've been kind of working on is a cutter. So that's kind of new thing that I've been kind of working with...I threw it accidently a couple times at the end of the season [and] got a feel for it in the offseason, so I don't know, it's something I'm kinda working with in some of my bullpens, but the true test is going to be when I face some hitters."
Asked what the cutter does, and what it adds to his arsenal, Storen explained that, "The nice thing about it, I have my slider and that breaks early and hard, but the cutter just is a fastball for about 58 ft and it kind of just moves a little to the left, and so that's kind of nice, cause if I can throw that in combination with my sinker I think that might be a nice thing to add to my repetoire."
Asked about moving from a mistake to a consistent pitch, Storen said, "It's just one of those things. I noticed that when I would start throwing my four-seam and try to work it out to the outside corner, that it started to cut and I just kind of felt...I had tried to throw a cutter in the past and I just couldn't get that feel for that rolling off the finger and getting it to get that nice little cut at the end, and for whatever reason when I was trying to throw a four-seam down and out it started doing it and I got that feel and I just started doing it over and over again to try to create that muscle memory and that's something I'm still trying to do because that's a really tough pitch to throw."
Heading into the '09 Draft Storen talked about the four pitches he was working with in an interview with The Baseball Analyst's Jeremy Greenhouse entitled, "2009 Draft Day Spotlight: Drew Storen", describing a fastball, power slurve (his description), slider and change, which he said at the time he didn't use in a relief role. In 54 games and 55.1 IP last season, Storen threw his fastball 60.4% of the time, threw his slider 28.8%, his curve 10% and change 0.8%. The 23-year-old right-hander finished his first MLB season with five saves, two blown saves, a 3.58 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 22 walks (3.58 BB/9), and 52 K's (8.46 K/9) and he's expected to battle for the closer's role with some of the Nats' new bullpen additions this Spring.
• Two Nats In Bowden's Top 50:
Former Nats' GM and current FOXSports.com writer and MLB Network Radio host Jim Bowden gets excited in his praise for the no.1 prospect on his list of, "Bowden: MLB's top 50 prospects in 2011", and calls 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper of the Nationals, "a future 40 HR clean-up hitter" with "light tower power", before saying that the crack of the bat when the 18-year-old catcher-turned-outfielder connects, "makes the same loud noise as Bonds and Griffey's did." Bowden has one other Nats' prospect in his Top 50. Catcher Derek Norris is ranked no.49, with the former Nats' general manager who oversaw Norris' selection in the 4th Round in 2007 saying the 21-year-old backstop, "has big-time, raw power and could develop into a 30 HR catcher." Bowden also cites the work "nine-time Gold Glove winner Bob Boone," has done to help in Norris' development as Washington Nationals' VP of Player Development Doug Harris did in another MLB Network Radio interview this weekend.
• Mark Prior on Stephen Strasburg:
Boston Globe.com writer Nick Cafardo profiles former Cubs' phenom Mark Prior in this Sunday's Baseball Notes column entitled, "Prior and Yankees will find out what the righty has left", asking the '01 1st Round pick taken second overall by the Cubs behind only the Twins' Joe Mauer, what he thinks about comparisons between himself and the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg. "Prior was Stephen Strasburg before Stephen Strasburg," Mr. Cafardo writes, "They even both hailed from the San Diego area.":
Mark Prior: "I think, given that I was 10 years earlier than Strasburg, he got a lot more media attention than I did,’’ Prior said. "I was very impressed with the way he handled things and how he went out there and was able to shut everything off. It’s unfortunate he got hurt so soon, and I guess that’s where the comparisons come into play.’’
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