Q&A with Steve McCatty

Chris Schroder

Steve McCatty is currently in his third season as the Washington National's Triple-A pitching coach.  He has seen lots of talent come through the Triple-A level and continues to see potential in this season's players.  With the help of talented guys like Redding, Booker, Martinez, Schroder, and others, the Columbus Clippers have been able hold on to the lead in games and come out with a win.

CapitolDugout.com: It is almost the middle of the season, what is your opinion of the overall pitching so far?

Steve McCatty: Well for the most part we have thrown the ball well this season. There have been a few games that our numbers don't look as good as how we really have pitched the whole season. We have had a few games like last night where there were 15 runs, and another one with 17 runs and that really throws everything off. But for the most part, the guys have done really well.

CapitolDugout.com: Which player has surprised you the most in their performance so far this season?

Steve McCatty: I don't think there has really been just one guy, but if I had to pick one I would probably say Joel Hanrahan. I haven't really had the chance to see him pitch before. I saw him once last year when he was with Las Vegas, I saw him one game and he was coming back from some surgery and he threw the ball well. But this season he has been able to get stronger and has thrown some great sliders, his velocity is good, he has good change up, but unfortunately he pulled his hamstring that really set him back. He would probably be in the big leagues right now, if it wasn't for his injury. What I like out of him is that he is a big strong guy that throws hard but throws quality pitches.

CapitolDugout.com: Some of your talented pitchers are on the DL. Do you know when they will be able to come back and play?

Steve McCatty: Well Hanrahan right now is starting his rehab in extended spring and he threw a stimulated game, I think, today. Emiliano Fruto is another one that we had to treat with a tweaked elbow. And I'll tell you what, he has a lot of stuff to offer once he gets better. He has above average skills so when he complains of an injury, we have to take care of it. When you lose two starters like that in your rotation, it hurts your program a little but the other guys have done a great job of stepping up. 

CapitolDugout.com: In your opinion, when it comes to pitching, who are the top prospects we should keep our eye on?

Steve McCatty: Well usually when you talk about prospects, you usually talk about the younger guys. So those guys would be Fruto and Hanrahan. Felix Diaz has thrown the ball really good too. At times, he will have a good game then a bad game but he is still a younger guy and has good stuff. I like Tim Redding too. He needs to locate his pitches a little more but he has quality pitches, even though he is more of an older guy. Once he gets on a role, he should be fine. Veteran guys like Mike Bacsik, Bill Traber, who we just sent up to the majors, are throwing the ball well. Chris Michalak is coming back from an injury he threw the ball and had only one hit in five innings the other day. We have a lot of guys doing well. I also like Chris Schroder, he hasn't given up a run yet. Edward Valdez is throwing the ball well, Chris Booker is doing great, Arnie Munoz is good too. That's what I mean, our numbers don't reflect all the talent we have on the team. At this point in the season, you have a few bad games and your numbers are bad.

CapitolDugout.com: Which pitcher has the most potential to make it up to the major leagues?

Steve McCatty: It would be Hanrahan. He was throwing the ball really well before he pulled his hamstring and he's coming back. So I think there is a good chance he will have a start or two, get rehabbed and then if the Nationals have a need for a pitcher, he definitely could fill that position. Booker is another guy that might be pulled up quick because he has done such a good job. There are a few guys that could make it up there. Redding is another example, if he locates his stuff a little better. We do have a lot of quality guys here who could pitch in the major league; they just have to get on a role.

CapitolDugout.com: What advice do you give the players to help them improve their skills or how do you handle it when a player makes a mistake during a game?

Steve McCatty: A lot of times we will just talk about things. I tell the guys that my door is always open. After the games, they don't want to come in and talk so I usually give them some time to sit and think about it. Usually we will talk about it the next day, sometimes while sitting on the bench. But I always talk to the guys about their performance and ask them why they did things, what they were thinking, and then give them suggestions of something that might work better. I have to give them the opportunity to throw the pitches they want to throw because they are going to learn more from their mistakes then from their successes. You can get away with a lot of mistakes when you are doing well and you won't realize that it might not have been the best way of doing it. But when you struggle, you can sit back and examine it more, that's when you start to learn what you can improve on. We basically have a real open line of communication.

CapitolDugout.com: What do you think, as an overall group, the players need to work on to make it to the major leagues?

Steve McCatty: This is probably the same with any Triple-A team, the pitchers usually have the pitches they need to get to the big leagues, sometimes there are guys here that have better pitches then they guys in the big leagues, but it's the ability to repeat those pitches. Locating your fastball is key, being able to throw an off speed pitch when you're behind in the count, but the big factor to me is that you have to be able to have two pitches you can throw for strikes whenever you want to, and you start with the fastball. You have to have good pitches, get ahead of the hitter, throw between three to five pitches, and get strikes, and that's what we stress.

CapitolDugout.com: Who would you say is the strongest starting pitcher and who is the strongest pitcher from the bullpen?

Steve McCatty: Well before he got hurt, I would have to say Hanrahan is the strongest starter. He throws the ball exceptionally well and his pitches are average to above. Schroder is doing a good job for the bullpen; he hasn't given up any runs in a bunch of innings. But before he went up, I would have said Winston Abreu. He was outstanding and was putting up numbers you just can't believe. At one point, he faced 19 guys and he struck out 16 of them. Booker for the most part has done pretty well too.

CapitolDugout.com: Do the veteran pitchers ever help the younger players at all with their game?

Steve McCatty: We have a great bunch of guys here; quit a few of older guys too. But they always talk and keep each other lose and talk about the game. It's a luxury to have veterans on the team.

CapitolDugout.com:  How do you use your major league background and experiences to help coach the players?

Steve McCatty: Well a lot of the time, the guys don't want to hear about your experience because they say that it was so long ago. But it still relates to the game because if you make pitches you are going to get people out. I tell them to always slow the game down when it's moving too fast and locate your fastball. No matter what it always comes back to location, location, location. They usually listen and take it to heart but always give me a hard time.

CapitolDugout.com: Now Tim Redding leads the league with five wins, what do you think of his performance?

Steve McCatty: Redding has some really good stuff. He has pitched in the big leagues before and is very good. The only thing with him is that he sometimes doesn't have that pitch to get him out of the inning. He is a veteran and still has trouble locating his fastball. He has had quality stuff and contributes a lot.

CapitolDugout.com: Chris Booker leads the circuit with 12 saves, which is more than 12 teams in the international league, what do you think of him as a player?

Steve McCatty: Chris Booker is a big, strong guy. He has a good fastball and a good split. It's an un-hittable split; he can throw it for strikes. The timing of when they need him to go there, he could pitch in the big leagues right now.

CapitolDugout.com: Chris Schroder has had two more scoreless innings this past week. He has had one unearned run in 18 innings over 13games. He has also struck out 25 guys, and 10 in his last 5.1 innings. Can you tell us about his performance lately?

Steve McCatty: Chris Schroder has an electric fastball. When I say electric, it's not the 95mph fastball, but they don't pick it up, they just don't see it. He throws 90 to 92, but when it comes out of his hand and gets to the plate it is like 95 or 96 and the hitter just doesn't see it. His slider and change up are getting better too.

CapitolDugout.com: Like you mentioned before, Winston Abreu was sent up to the Nationals, and Anastacio Martinez has sort of taken over his role. He hasn't been scored on since coming to Columbus, what can you say about him as a player?

Steve McCatty: Anastacio Martinez is another guy who has been in the big leagues with Boston. I had him last year, he has real good pitches but it comes down to the location. He has a tendency to throw a lot of off speed pitches, he likes doing that, and sometimes its good but those guys are more likely to throw more balls with their fastballs to get in the situation to throw that off speed pitch. Sometimes when you get to the 4th or 5th inning you are over the amount of pitches you can have and have to come out. Overall he has good stuff, he just needs to work on being consistent.

CapitolDugout.com: Finally, what is your outlook for the rest of the season?

Steve McCatty: Well, I always have a good outlook for the season. We are going to get some of our pitchers, like Hanrahan, back. The guys right now are going through a little bad spell when it comes to pitching and we could be doing better but like in the beginning we are throwing great and not hitting. The beginning of the season was hot, we are a little cold now, but we will do well. We have guys that can throw the ball and once they get on a little role, they feed off each other, and I think we are going to do well.

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