Conversation with Damon Oppenheimer
Q: Who from the 2009 draft class do you believe will make it to the Thunder first?
A: To get to this level right here, I would say you're probably looking at (Adam) Warren, the kid from North Carolina, or Caleb Cotham. Those two guys could get here pretty quick. Those are both college pitchers that have now stuff that they can locate. They can probably get to be on the same track as Bleich.
Q: Are you pleased with what you've seen from Bleich so far?
A: Yeah, I'd call this his first year, really, because, if you look back, it wasn't like he pitched much last year. So I'd say that this is considered a first year, and that stuff that he showed last night, there were three pitches that were very good. He just needs to continue to be aggressive and pound the zone with confidence and go out there and trust his stuff.
Q: Do you think he's lacking confidence at this point based on the apprehensiveness he showed in his last start?
A: I think what you saw was pretty accurate. The thing that really was exciting about it was: he was getting to 0-2, he's getting ahead of hitters. Now it's just a matter of saying 'I'm going to put them away' and not give them too much respect and just go after them. Very rarely are you going to find left-handers with that kind of curveball, that kind of change-up and a fastball at 92-93 miles per hour. We can't teach that stuff, we can help him with the other stuff.
Q: So you're saying that as long as he's getting ahead and racking up strikeouts, then there's no reason to worry?
A: That's why he's here. You're going to have to experience some failure, and we'd rather him experience it here than have him experience it in the Bronx. He needs to learn how to get through that stuff, and that's what he's learning how to do now.
Q: You got see Zach McAllister yesterday when he was pretty much on. What thoughts do you have on his progression overall?
A: We're really happy with what we saw out of him yesterday. That was advanced, it looked really good. That fastball's jumping on people without really lighting up a radar gun, and he's locating and coming out there and (seems like) he's in complete control of the game.
It's nice that he's staying here to be part of this playoff race. That was a big game for this team and he came out and performed real well. It's going to help this team continue to build for the playoffs. That's another big part of it. They needed him to have a good game and he went out there and did it.
Q: Does it speak to his character also that he was able to shake off the line drive off his leg and continue to pitch?
A: I think it's just a huge part of his development to realize that he's got to finish what he started here. It might hurt a little bit but you've got to get through this.
Q: Overall are you pleased with what you've seen at this level this season?
A: Overall, we could always stand to get better. I'd like to give you guys three Austin Jacksons every year, but that's just not the way the thing operates. With what's gone through here and the glimpse you got of Montero, we're pretty slow on moving guys up too quick. I think that what we're seeing and what you guys are getting ... I think we're pretty happy. I think some guys have gotten better here, the coaching staff's done a nice job in developing some of these guys. You're seeing some smiles in the clubhouse and some stuff that's pretty exciting in there.