Herrera's changeup is Major League-quality
Left-handed pitcher Danny Herrera turned some heads with an outstanding professional debut with the High-A Bakersfield Blaze just one season ago. Now a full-time reliever, Herrera has reached Double-A Frisco less than two months into his first full season in the organization. Lone Star Dugout chats with the native Texan.
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Danny Ray Herrera had one of the best seasons of any pitcher in Division I collegiate baseball last season. The 5-foot-8 southpaw posted a 10-0 record with a 2.24 ERA in 17 starts with the New Mexico Lobos.
After such an outstanding junior year, Herrera announced that he would be returning for his senior season at New Mexico.
Regardless of his announcement, the Rangers decided to take a flyer on Herrera, picking him in the 45th round of last year's amateur draft.
After several weeks of negotiation, the Rangers were able to convince the lefty to sign with the organization.
Herrera reported to the team’s spring training complex in Surprise to join the Rookie League club. The native of Odessa allowed two runs in 8 2/3 innings with the AZL Rangers.
The Rangers then sent the advanced lefty to Bakersfield. The plan was for Herrera to fill the roster for a few days before being returned to Arizona. But Herrera never returned.
The 22-year-old was nothing short of dominant for the Blaze, as he allowed just 39 hits in 53 1/3 innings, leading to a miniscule ERA of 1.35. Herrera walked just 12 while punching out 61.
Herrera began the 2007 campaign in extended spring training, but he was recently assigned to a full-season club. After appearing in seven games with High-A Bakersfield, the southpaw was promoted to Double-A Frisco, where he has not allowed a run in two relief appearances.
Lone Star Dugout recently caught up with the left-handed pitcher to talk about his collegiate career, his stuff, and his current status with the Frisco RoughRiders.
Jason Cole: You had a great season last year with New Mexico. Can you tell me what led to that success?
Danny Herrera: Basically just location. I found a pretty good groove with all of my pitches while I was at school. I just tried to get as much movement on my pitches as possible and I had really good location.
Cole: Your sophomore year at New Mexico, your ERA was around six, and last year it was around two. What did you do differently?
Herrera: I really did nothing different. I approached the game the same way. I think the only difference was the experience. Before last year, I had two years of starting in Division I under my belt. I think it was just experience that helped me out.
Cole: Playing in the high altitude of New Mexico, how does that help you prepare for the hitter-friendly California League or ultimately Rangers Ballpark in Arlington?
Herrera: I’ve been playing in hitter-friendly parks and leagues all through college, so it wasn’t a real big shock that the California League was so hitter-friendly. My experience in New Mexico helped me learn to be a ground ball pitcher. I did that a lot last year and I’m doing the same thing this year.
Cole: Last year at New Mexico you announced that you were going to stay for your senior season and then you eventually signed with the Rangers. What changed?
Herrera: I was prepared to go back to school and finish out my senior season, but about a week after the draft, the scout that drafted me ended up talking with me. We negotiated a higher signing bonus. It eventually got to where I was comfortable with signing, so I went ahead and did that.
Cole: Can you talk about what pitches you throw?
Herrera: I throw a two-seam fastball and a cutter. I hardly ever throw any regular four-seam fastballs. I like my fastballs to be able to run in and off the plate. My slider is pretty good. It moves pretty well and it’s kind of fast, so I get some pretty good movement on that. I have good location most of the time. My changeup is my money pitch. It’s more like a screwball. It breaks about 12-to-6 and it’s about 60 to 65 miles per hour, so it’s a big difference from my fastball. I get some really good arm action with it and it helps out a lot.
Cole: You started the season in extended spring training. What were you working on then?
Herrera: Basically I was just working on getting my arm stronger. My arm strength wasn’t what it should be. I spent all my life preparing for my season as a starter, and this past offseason was my first to go in as a reliever. My arm strength just wasn’t there and I didn’t get enough innings in. Basically I just worked on getting my arm healthy.
Cole: Do you know what your role with this Frisco team will be?
Herrera: I’m not real sure. I’m sure I’m just going to be a middle reliever, maybe a one or two inning guy. Basically I think I’ll be used to get a lot of lefties out. If there’s a lineup with a lot of lefties in it, I think that’ll fit me perfectly.
Cole: Have you set any goals for the rest of the season?
Herrera: My goal is basically to just throw really well here and hopefully get a September callup to the big leagues. But I really don’t set too high of goals. I’m pretty realistic about it and I’ve just got to throw well everyday.
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