Schlosser Ready For The Next Challenge

Schlosser tossed eight shutout innings Wednesday

LYNCHBURG, VA - The 2012 minor league baseball regular season is over and there are quite a few guys that stand out in the Lynchburg Virginia in the Hillcats program. One that is sure to be remembered this offseason is pitcher Gus Schlosser who pitched eight shutout innings for a playoff victory on Wednesday night.

Schlosser finished the regular season going 13-7 with a 3.38 ERA and has been a big part their success. However, he attributes his success to his catcher Braeden Schlehuber.

"We've just had pretty good game plans the last couple of times," Schlosser said. "He puts down the signs in the right spots and I just throw them there; so a lot of credit has to go to 'Schle'.

"I've tried to stay relaxed a lot; I'm trying to not force it too much in this second half of the season. I've just tried to let the pitches work and make good pitches, not perfect pitches necessarily."

As good as he's been all year though, he's been even better in the second half of the season, posting a 2.92 ERA after the All Star break and increasing his strikeout ratio.

"Of course everyone is trying to move up the ladder but you can't really think about that too much," Schlosser said before Wednesday's playoff game. "I am just trying to get better and have whatever I can whether that's physically, mentally or pitching. Mainly finish the year strong.

"I've seen the most improvement in the command of my off speed stuff. It's a lot better than last year and it's a little evident when I throw more innings."

Derek Botelho is the Hillcats pitching coach and has no complaints about Schlosser's performance on the mound this season.

"He has been outstanding," Botelho said. "He has been very consistent and his overall stuff has gotten a lot better. He has had guys in scoring positions; he's been in a pinch and gotten out of it, which has been big.

"He has improved in his overall command in all three pitches, they have really sharpened up. He's come a long way with his consistency and he is working on stuff now like using his changeup a lot more.

"That is a pitch that he is really going to have to get going a lot more as he moves up the latter. He has just been so consistent with everything. He has really developed and it has come quick for him."

Botelho has seen Schlosser take his game to a completely different level in the second half, seeing him shave his already respectable 1.23 WHIP ratio down to a tidy 1.04 after the break.

"Lately he has been pounding the strike zone with all three pitches and he has been working ahead which expands the zone a little bit," Botelho said. "He's now utilizing the slider with two strikes and he is working on the inner gap with his fastball which also expands the strike zone.

"He is just clicking right now and it's a good spot for him to be in. He's a guy that early in the year I could see a lot of changes that have come about now. Early in the year he would get frustrated by not making good pitches or having a defensive let down and that was affecting him a little bit. Now he is just using his head."

With the way he finished the regular season and followed it up with the dazzling performance on Wednesday night in the playoffs, Schlosser's stock is clearly on the rise.

"I think he has a chance to pitch in the big leagues; what role that's going to be I don't know yet but he is a guy that has really come a long way," Botelho said. "He is doing exactly what he needs to do right now and he has had outing after outing where he has been consistent. His numbers show for it too and they show how consistent he has been."

Hillcats head coach Luis Salazar is not only impressed with Schlosser's performance this season but believes that he has out-grown his current position in the Carolina League.

"I think he should be out of this league," Salazar said. "He's got nothing to prove in this league; he is very mature and strong mentally. Nothing in this level is a challenge to him and he is the most consistent starter in this league.

"It's just a matter of time until this guy will be pitching in the bullpen of the big leagues. In two or three years if he keeps working hard his velocity will increase and he is very tough on the hill; he wants to win and compete every time he goes out there.

"He sets his mind to go seven on every outing. He is very aggressive and he throws strikes. I think it's time to give him a chance at the next level.

"He has improved on his first pitch being a strike and his slider is getting a lot better. He has natural rhythm and fielding is not a problem for him."

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