New start working for Kohlmeier

Baysox closer expands his pitching repertoire, finds successful '97 form

Minor-league notebook

April 26, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Ryan Kohlmeier came to spring training this year with a shorter memory and a taller repertoire of pitches. The combination appears to have worked.

After a sensational season at Delmarva in 1997, Kohlmeier stumbled a bit at the Double-A level and finished 1998 in Frederick. He then scrapped winter ball and spent the colder months relaxing.

"Going into spring training, I was ready to start things again," said the Bowie closer. "I was feeling good and my arm was great. I had worked on my slider playing catch in the off-season. Everything was positive."

Now, Kohlmeier is showing signs of returning to the dominant form he had two years ago, when he paced the South Atlantic League with 24 saves, averaged almost 12 strikeouts per nine innings and allowed a .189 opposing batting average. He was a major reason the Shorebirds went to the league championship series.

With the Baysox, he struck out eight in his first 5 2/3 innings, recorded three saves and permitted an .056 batting average.

"Last year I was basically a one-pitch [fastball] pitcher," Kohlmeier said. "I was struggling with the breaking ball, and if you don't have a second pitch, it doesn't matter how hard you throw."

"He looks comfortable here this year," said Bowie pitching coach Dave Schmidt. "He believes he belongs, and that's a big part of it. Things fell apart a little on him, and I think he might have lost a little confidence.

"One character trait you must have as a short reliever is a short memory. You have to forget the bad and the good because it's as close as you get to being an everyday player."

Kohlmeier said that the demotion to Frederick was beneficial because he returned his feet to the ground. Although he was pounded for nine runs in 9 2/3 innings, he also had 15 strikeouts.

Now 21, he signed after being drafted on the 14th round in August 1996, three days before he was to return to Butler Community College in Kansas.

"I planned on getting a degree or at least going three years," he said. "But I don't have any regrets."

Triple-A Rochester

With the recall of Jesse Garcia and Calvin Pickering's non-disabled list injury, the Red Wings were down to one player on the bench. Jim Foster was 0-for-11 throwing out runners. Lyle Mouton was batting .159, but leading the team with 10 RBIs. In his first three starts, Terry Burrows did not receive a run from his offense. Unofficially, Ryan Minor had four homers and 10 RBIs in his first 48 at-bats because a two-run shot was struck in a suspended game to be completed. He had struck out 11 times.

Double-A Bowie

Bowie committed two gaffes in a Thursday night game -- batting out of order and getting a potential winning run thrown out after the batter rounded first too far on a single -- and still won in 10 innings. Catcher Chip Alley is on the disabled list with some muscle strain in the ankle area, and Mike Lopez Cao was promoted from Delmarva to replace him. Eugene Kingsale, who had one professional homer before this season, has homered from both sides of the plate.

Single-A Frederick

The Keys hit a losing streak on the road after winning five straight at home as Matt Riley encountered his second rough start in three at Winston-Salem. Riley allowed six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, and his ERA zoomed to 6.43. He has permitted a .321 batting average. Catcher Pat Evans was released and Jaime Escalante joined the Keys from extended spring to replace him. Frederick was tied for first in the Carolina League with 21 stolen bases.

Single-A Delmarva

The young Shorebirds continued to scuffle with the lowest batting average and next-to-highest ERA in the South Atlantic League. They lost nine of 10 and were last in the Northern Division. Rafael Tapia was a bright pitching spot, going 8 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run and permitting a .173 opposing batting average. After a hot start, first baseman Matt Purkiss went through an 0-for-17 stretch and struck out seven times.

Pub Date: 4/26/99

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