INDIANAPOLIS – Steven Brault didn’t have good command of his slider during his last start on July 4, so he made some quick adaptations to his approach.
And that resulted in a solid performance, allowing just one earned run in six innings. Three of Brault’s innings were extremely efficient, but he threw 20-plus pitches in his other three innings. He didn’t have his best slider, so he made adjustments, most notably throwing more changeups than he normally would.
That’s a change from last season. Brault didn’t feel confident to fall back on pitches other than his fastball and slider, which he considers a key part of his development. And some of the credit for that development goes to Indianapolis reliever Dan Runzler.
“I’ve talked to him a lot about it,” Brault said. “He’s big on a big part of maturity is that when something isn’t working, use it when you can and can kind of get away with it. But when you’re in the tough situations going to your other pitches until it comes back. It was a good learning experience.”
Facing the best in the league
Brault has put together two impressive months back-to-back, but his success isn’t just against players on the downside of their careers.
He’s had success against those prospects ranked in the top-100, facing nine such players already this season. Those prospects are hitting .172 (5-for-29) against Brault, with only one player – Yankees’ prospect Dustin Fowler – having an extra-base hit.
Four prospects ranked in the top-20 — Yoan Moncada, J.P. Crawford, Willy Adames and Clint Frazier — have combined to go 1-for-14 with three strikeouts against Brault.
International League all-stars have hit .216 with a .665 OPS off Brault; and Yankees’ prospect Dustin Fowler’s triple is the only extra-base hit allowed. The IL all-stars have hit .167 with a .627 OPS off Drew Hutchison.
Indianapolis’ third all-star – super utility player Christopher Bostick – is hitting .143 off IL all-star pitchers; but he does have a double and walk off Phillies’ prospect Tom Eshelman, who has a 0.94 WHIP.
Brault has faced nine prospects ranked in the top-100.
No. 1 Yoan Moncada 1-for-3, run
No. 4 J.P. Crawford 0-for-3, K
No. 16 Willy Adames 0-for-3, K
No. 17 Clint Frazier 0-for-5, K, RBI
No. 60 Jorge Alfaro 0-for-3, 2K
No. 62 Jake Bauers 1-for-3, K
No. 85 Chance Sisco 0-for-2, K
No. 88 Casey Gillaspie 1-for-3, 2K
No. 97 Dustin Fowler 2-for-4, K, run, 2 BB, triple
TOTALS: 5-for-29 (.172), 2 runs, 10 Ks, 2 BBs, RBI, triple
Gearing up for the second half
Drew Hutchison has been selected to play in three mid-year all-star games during his career, but actually has not appeared any of them yet in a trend that continued this season.
Hutchison was selected to the Triple-A All-Star game in Tacoma, Washington, but passed on the invitation.
“First, it’s always an honor to be selected to something like that and have that individual recognition,” Hutchison said. “For me, at this point of my career, it’s about getting back to the big leagues. I thought the best thing for me was to take a few days off physically and kind of unplug mentally, and come back to have a good start to the second half.”
Hutchison was selected as a Triple-A All-Star with Buffalo, but passed on attending the game in Charlotte. He was selected to participate in the 2010 New York-Penn League All-Star game, but does not appear in the box score. It’s was not immediately clear looking back if Hutchison attended the event, but he pitched five innings the day before for Auburn, so he would not have pitched either way.
Quietly putting together a solid season
Hutchison surprised several with his selection to the Triple-A All-Star game, but mainly because his stats have somewhat snuck up on people.
He has a 3.65 ERA, which ranks 10th in the International League, but he was sitting fourth before allowing six runs in his most recent start. Hutchison had an impressive June, posting a 1.87 ERA over four starts and two relief appearances.
Lately, coaches have noticed a more confident Hutchison throwing crisper pitches.
“Everything about his stuff is crisper and he’s able to throw the ball where he wants to throw the ball when he wants to throw the ball there,” Barkett said. “I think that’s the key to his success and getting a chance to go to the big leagues and pitch again. I think he’s confident. We talk about confidence and conviction in pitching. I think he’s convicted with what he wants to throw and confident in what he wants to throw and that’s making a huge difference in his performance on the field.”