Josh Collmenter has enjoyed terrific success since signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and not just for a 15th-round pick. He led the Northwest
League with a 2.71 ERA last season, and has followed that up with a 12-8 record
and 3.41 ERA this year with the South Bend Silver Hawks.
We really shouldn't be surprised by this success, though. Collmenter
posted a 1.91 ERA in his final season at CMU prior to his stellar performance at
Yakima and went 24-10 in his collegiate career.
"It's pretty much the same thing: throwing a lot of fastballs early,"
Collmenter responded when we asked him whether he approached professional
hitters differently than amateurs. "The
changeup's been my pitch last year and this year. I've struggled with an
inconsistent curveball. When the changeup isn't
there, I have to rely more on my fastball. Once I was able to command that
in and out, I was able to get them to hit my pitch. I'm really pitching in
a lot and getting jam jobs and maybe some broken bats. Guys sweat a little
bit when you pitch in. So I took the same philosophy that I applied in
college and applied it last year, and then again this year."
Josh used different mechanics at CMU
Although Collmenter has now established himself as one of the top pitching
prospects in the organization, as recently as May, that did not appear to be the
case. He allowed nine runs on 12 hits in his first start of the season and
held a 6.43 ERA six starts into the year. Since then, he put up a 2.68 ERA
in the regular season and a strong five-inning, two-run performance against
Dayton in the second round of the postseason.
"I was battling some mechanical things, trying to get some things ironed out,"
Collmenter said of his early season struggles.
"I was really fighting with some of the things I was doing on the mound and
taking them into bullpen sessions. I finally got back to my old form of
being able to command my fastball again, something I'd really struggled with at
the beginning. Once I got back to throwing strike one, strike two, I could
use my changeup and curveball again to keep hitters off balance."
All prospects go through rough stretches, but Collmenter's was a concern due
to the heavy workload he shouldered in 2007. After tossing a fairly
typical 95 innings as a sophomore in 2006, Collmenter grinded out 116.1 innings
as a junior with CMU before adding 66.1 at Yakima and throwing in a few more in
last year's Instructional League for good measure. He basically doubled
his workload from the previous season, which generally means that injury or
ineffectiveness will ensue for a 22-year old pitcher.
Not so for Collmenter, who finished seventh in the Midwest League with 145.1
innings pitched. It might have even been more, but Silver Hawks manager
Mark Haley and pitching coach Erik Sabel limited all of their starters to five
innings in August to save their arms for the playoffs and give their bullpen
How does he do it? Collmenter's size gives scouts the impression that
he can eat more innings than smaller pitchers can, but Collmenter himself cited
the conditioning that he has undergone since becoming an Arizona Diamondback is
"The full-body maintenance that strength trainers instill is phenomenal," he
said. "The stuff they know about the human body and how to get your arm
back in five days. I've really bought into that, stuck with that system,
and do it religiously. I make sure I get my arm work in every time I do a
side, get my running in, eat healthy, and get enough sleep so I have enough
energy to go every five days."
Collmenter looks as though he has slimmed down considerably since his days at
CMU, though he is still listed at an imposing 6-foot-3, 233 pounds.
Perhaps his conditioning program has turned some baby fat into muscle.
Sabel thinks that Collmenter's ability to be efficient with his pitches is the
biggest reason that he can go deep into games, since all of his starters are on
a pitch count.
"[By] throwing the ball over the plate early and trying to get contact on
good pitches down in the strike zone, you can pitch into the sixth, seventh, or
eighth innings," the pitching coach concluded.
Whatever the cause, Collmenter has most definitely established himself both
as a workhorse and a pitcher the Silver Hawks want on the mound in big games.
He may get to pitch in an even bigger game than he did Sunday if the team
advances to play the Burlington Bees in the final round of the playoffs, and he
looks to have a terrific future with the Arizona Diamondbacks either way.
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Josh Collmenter added five strong innings of pitching in Game One of the Eastern Division Championship Series to an already impressive resume. Last year's 15th-round draft choice out of CMU has established himself as an effective workhorse.