Carolina Pitcher Has Merritt with April Success
Rob McLamb | On 07, May 2014
In 2011, Cleveland selected Cody Anderson, a right-handed pitcher from a small college, in the 17th round. Anderson dazzled the Carolina League while pitching for the Carolina Mudcats and ultimately earned promotion to Double-A Akron in mid-August.
Two rounds later in that same draft, the Indians chose lefty Ryan Merritt. Carolina fans can be forgiven if they are feeling déjà vu.
Merritt is the reigning Indians Minor League Player of the Week and was superb throughout the month of April. The lefty from McKinney, Texas extended his fine form into May with a solid seven inning effort in a no-decision on Tuesday. Merritt allowed only two earned runs on five hits over seven frames and struck out seven Lynchburg batters while walking none in the Mudcats’ extra-inning victory over the Hillcats.
Overall, he is 4-0 in six starts with a 1.45 ERA, allowing only 24 hits in 37.1 innings while fanning 30 batters with seven walks.
“My start has gone well,” Merritt said. “I have improved from Spring Training some things I needed to work on. I have been working on things with my pitching coach.
That pitching coach is former 1st round draft pick Steve Karsay, who also tutored Merritt at Lake County last season. While there is plenty of excitement of the Texan’s hot start to the campaign, Karsay also see areas where he must improve.
“He is doing very well,” Karsay said. “Obviously he numbers show what he is capable of doing. He is a guy I have had before, so I have seen growth. He has done a great job lifting in the offseason, things people don’t see. He needs to work on his direction. He needs to make sure he has consistent arm slot on his pitches. He certainly has the stuff and work ethic to go very far.”
Merritt feels the continued presence of Karsay, along with the opportunity to make two starts for the Mudcats towards the end of the 2013 season, is also benefitting him now, as he has gotten off to one of the best starts in the Tribe system.
“I have had him for two years, so I am comfortable with him and he is comfortable with me,” Merritt said. He knows me and what types of things I need to work on. The benefit of have a pitching coach that has pitched in the big leagues is he can help you improve from a mental standpoint based on the way he pitched. You can then put that into your game. It helped being here last year for sure. It gave me a higher comfort level for this year.”
“It is hard to explain the feeling,” Merritt said. “It is a feeling you have been working towards your whole life. It is what you want to be and then you get that call and it is a special feeling. I was overly excited. The Indians are just a great organization. They are there for you. They really just take care of their players. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
“My family couldn’t believe it,” Merritt added. “They were just happy and it was exciting. They come out about once or twice a year to watch me pitch.”
While he has much work to do according to his own perspective and that of Karsay, Merritt looks forward to one day hopefully toeing the rubber at Progressive Field.
“The Indians are just a great organization,” Merritt gushed. “They are there for you. They really just take care of their players. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It would be a lot of adrenaline rushing through my body. I was drafted by the Indians, so it would mean a whole lot to me if I could pitch for them someday.”
Photo: Dean Strickland O. D.