As if there were already enough reasons to love Atlanta Braves relievers Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, here comes another one, courtesy of Braves pitching prospect, and University of Georgia alum Alex Wood:
[Wood's] fastball has topped out at 95 mph and he's shown an improved curveball, which he said has become a better pitch since he got to training camp because of tips from Braves relievers Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters.
"I'm probably throwing the best, most consistent breaking ball I've ever thrown right now," said Wood, who had a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts at Rome with 52 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52-2/3 innings. "I just started throwing a spike curveball in this camp. Just from talking to Jonny and Craig and them showing me how to grip it. It's a breaking ball I can kind of throw the heck out of. That's what I've been kind of searching for.
"I've been throwing it for about two weeks now and it's pretty amazing, the difference just that little change has been for me." [...]
"That could be career-changing for me, starting to develop that breaking ball."
That's exciting on so many levels. Not only do you hear the excitement from one of the organization's top prospects, but the potential for him to add that new pitch to his arsenal is huge. And all that from talking to Jonny and Craig. Wood seems like a tenacious student:
"I try to write down stuff every day in my journal" at spring training, he said. "That's one of those things that's going to help take me to the next level, where I'm trying to go. So I'm real excited about it.... They probably get annoyed because sometimes I ask a lot of questions. All the guys are great and they answer anything I ask. That's definitely paying off.
I love hearing stuff like this. It's a young prospect doing the right things to help his career and take full advantage of the opportunities surrounding him in Spring Training, and then being able to apply those things he's been taught. It's amazing that Kimbrel and Venters have only been in the Majors for a few years, but already they are imparting their wisdom to the next generation of Braves pitchers.