One of the most disappointing performances from a Braves prospect last year came from left-handed starting pitcher Cole Rohrbough. A lot was expected of the young draft-and-follow player last season, after he had a breakout performance in 2007, with so many scouts raving about him. Instead his performance regressed from his already disappointing 2008 showing.
I caught up with Cole yesterday at the Braves Minor League complex in Orlando, Florida, and it certainly looks like last season was an eye-opener for the young lefty. He's spent the off-season working on his mental approach and completely changing his mechanical approach to pitching. Here is my Q&A with Cole Rohrbough:
Q: Looking back on last season, how do you feel about it now?
A: Very disappointing season. It wasn't the way I wanted it to go. Looking back I'd like to say I don't have any regrets as far as how hard I worked, and grinding through it. My game plan, my mental approach, wasn't quite where I think it needed to be, and that's what I'm trying to work on this year.
Q: How have you been working to change your mental approach?
A: I've just really been thinking about the times where I felt the most comfortable on the mound, and what my mental approach was then and what I was feeling like on the mound at those times. Last year I think it comes down to I was really overanalyzing stuff. I was thinking about too much and this year I need to think about a lot less, and just keep it real simple.
Q: Let the catcher to the thinking for you?
A: Well, yes and no. Hopefully do a lot less [shaking off the catcher] this year.
Q: Did you work on anything mechanical or pitching-wise this off-season?
A: I changed my mechanics around this year.
A: I basically just decided that if there's a way that everybody's been doing it all these years, and the majority of the people have been doing it this way, there's probably a good reason why. Of all the people I talked to made it seem like if you have the right mechanics it's going to take a lot less stress off your arm. My number one goal while playing baseball is to just stay healthy, and I feel like having better mechanics is going to help me do that.
Q: So your mechanics previously put a lot of stress on your elbow or arm?
A: It's hard to say, but I'd like to think a lot more than they are right now. The new mechanics feel better. I think it's going to be a lot better on my arm.
Q: It is weird having pitched one way for so long then completely changing?
A: I haven't pitched that way my whole life, it was basically something I started doing in college, and it worked really well. It worked really well my first season here, and I really didn't want to change anything. Once I started struggling a little bit I used some common sense and went back to the conventional way.
Q: Did the Brave get you to change or encourage you to change?
A: Yeah, they've been encouraging me to do that for a while, and I'm kind of just now doing it.
Q: Do you have any goals for this coming year?
A: My goal this year is to not throw one single pitch without conviction. I want to get beat with my best stuff this year