Blaine Beatty was originally an Oriole's ninth round draft pick out of Baylor University in 1986. He was traded by 1987 and spent parts of three seasons in the major leagues. He spent three years as a pitching coach with the Mets organization before returning to the organization that drafted him this year. Under his guidance, Keys pitchers have held opponents to a .257 batting average with 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
I had an opportunity to catch up with Beatty recently and I found him to be a very knowledgeable coach. He has a passion for the game, as well as a dedication to the young men that he is turning into professional pitchers.
ITW: I know that James Hoey was only here briefly, but what were your impressions of him?
Blaine: Very good stuff. He has a good feel for the game. He knows what he's trying to do with hitters when he comes in the game. He knows where he's at in the lineup. He just has a very good feel for what he's trying to do. Plus, he's got major league stuff- his fastball and his slider. For him, you actually want to see him get in situations where he has to pitch a little bit. Sometimes, you learn more about guys when they're doing not so good, as opposed to when they're on a roll.
ITW: Do you think that's the reason that he's been pushed so fast [through the system]?
Blaine: He's an older guy that's been around and he had a setback with his arm and I think he's where he should be right now.
ITW: How far away do you hink he is from helping out a major league team?
Blaine: Pretty close. He's got tremendous stuff and I think he's going to be a short [reliever], if not a closer. He's definitely very close, within a year or two of helping a major league team.
ITW: Rommie Lewis has come back pretty strong this year. To what do you attribute that?
Blaine: There's not a lot for me to expound on that. I don't know the reasons for the setback. I do know that's he has come back and he's shown that he is able to do he job and be resilient and come in back to back outings in short and/or long relief. He's done a tremendous job. He goes after hitters and throws strikes and he has a good feel for it. He's doing a good job here.
ITW: Luis Ramirez is a guy who might not blow up radar guns but has been effective at every stop. To what do you attribute that to?
Blaine: I'd definitely attribute that to his deception. He throws a lot of fastballs up in the zone and gets away with a lot of them up there. It's tough for hitters to catch up with that. The ball takes off late out of his hand. He's got some deception there and that's been his biggest asset. His ability to locate and throw his fastball and slider have been improving, so that's going o be even more of an asset down the road.
Blaine: He has very impressive makeup. He knows that he's been down here for a reason. It doesn't matter to him. It's still pitching, it's still minor league baseball and he's just going to go out and o it an have fun wherever he is. That's his mentality.
ITW: Who would you say is closer to the major leagues: Garrett Olson or Radhames Liz?
Blaine: I would have to go with Olson. He's a little bit more polished player, he's got college under his belt. The difference I've seen between the two, he would definitely be closer. He has a better feel for the game at this point. Liz is a little bit behind in that aspect, but he has tremendous stuff. Liz has got better stuff than Olson, so it's tough to have to choose between the two.
ITW: Some have speculated that Liz's long-term role might be in the bullpen because of his power arsenal.
Blaine: That's just an alternative. He's a very intelligent guy and if we don't exhaust our [patience] with him as a starter, that's where he'll end up. I would definitely keep the ball in his hand as long as I can as a starter because you never know. He's got tremendous ability, strength, he's got a great pitcher's body and he's got great mechanics. So don't rule out starting just yet. [Relieving] will always be an alternative, since he's got that arm strength.
ITW: Finally, any sleepers that you'd like to point out that might not be apparent to a casual fan?
Blaine: We've always talked about the guys that don't throw hard that go to each level and have success. [Kevin] Hart's a guy that you need to keep an eye on because he's got a really good sinker, he's got deception and he's got really good command of three pitches. These guys, they go to every level and they have success and no one ever would have thought they could do it. [Hart]'s a guy that I would definitely keep my eye on. He's got great makeup and he's probably been one of the most dependable starters I've had all year at this level. He's had a couple rough outings, but so have others. He would be the one guy to keep an eye on as far as having an outside shot.