Last fall’s now-legendary trade with the Toronto Blue Jays saw the departure of most of the Marlins’ marquee players (and their salaries). In exchange, we got a headcase third baseman we shuffled off to Joe Maddon, and a handful of prospects. One of those prospects is 23-year-old RHP Anthony DeSclafani. DeSclafani is currently with the high-A Hammerheads in Jupiter, sporting a 1.88 ERA and a 4-2 record over 11 games. I caught up with him on a rain-soaked Thursday morning as the rain bands from Andrea turned Roger Dean Stadium into a supersized water-skiing venue.
We started by talking about the trade. I asked how he found out about it, and what his reaction was. “I got a call from the Toronto GM telling me what had happened, and that I should get ready for it to become a huge story by the next day. Sure enough, it was, and I was glad he’d called me. It was a shock, because it was the first really big baseball news that I was a part of.”
Since he came to Jupiter this year, he’s shown marked improvement over last year’s low-A season with the Lansing Lugnuts. His ERA, K/9, BB/9, and BABIP are now hovering in the range of top-drawer guys. I asked what he did that has made such a difference: “I’ve really improved the location on my fastball. My release point has gotten more consistent, mostly because I’m separating my hands earlier, and keeping my weight centered over the rubber longer.” We stayed on the topic of mechanics for a while, and I asked him what he felt were the strongest points about his delivery. He said he felt his fluidity and smoothness are his strengths. “I don’t have any herky-jerky aspect to my delivery, and there’s no violence.” I also asked if there is something he’d like to improve or is working on. “”Deception. I’m trying to hide the ball for as long as possible by closing my front side a little bit.” Here is a clip of him taking a few warmup tosses last season.
Still on mechanics, I inquired about the pitcher whose delivery he sees as being the most helpful for improving his own pitching. His answer was unequivocal: Mariano Rivera. “He’s a guy that can really hide his pitches. He’s got a slight hip turn and his delivery is nice, clean, and short.”
As far as his specific pitches, he said his fastball is his most effective, hardest-to-hit pitch, “but I’ve been working hard on improving my curve ball, and have been working with the coaches to develop a slider. It’s coming along nicely, breaking sharper and later.”
His intentions are to be a starter, and to help the team as best he can. “That’s why I’m a ground ball pitcher. Grounders help keep my pitch count down, and a low pitch count is what will help me get deeper in a game and be the biggest help to the team that I can be. The biggest thing for me is wins. It’s wins that the big league manager is looking for, and it’s what I’m doing my best to deliver.”
About the future? “I got to take my first tour of Marlins Park yesterday with my parents. I’m really excited to be a part of the Marlins organization. The team is exciting, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”
We here at Marlin Maniac are grateful for the opportunity to talk with him, and look forward to seeing him bring that 1.88 ERA up to the big club.