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Faces on the Field: Chance Douglass06/06/2006 4:29 PM ET
By Kevin Yanik / MLB.com
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Chance Douglass is a deep thinker on the mound, perhaps too much of one.
Douglass, a 22-year-old right-hander for Double-A Corpus Christi, analyzes each hitter he faces and tries to examine the intricacies of the game in an effort to do his job more effectively.
Although this tactic can lead to success, it can wear on an athlete -- particularly on a young one like Douglass.
"That can get to be a grind if you're going to do that for 140 games," Hooks pitching coach Joe Slusarski said. "I don't think [Douglass] is superstitious, but the more information for him, the better."
Some athletes can't handle an overload of information and statistics. Some might be more successful pounding their 95-mph heater past hitters or cracking that same pitch 400 feet.
"A lot of guys aren't made up that way," Slusarski said. "The more information you give most guys, the more confused they get. Chance is what we call a cerebral pitcher."
Douglass isn't exactly Sigmund Freud with a fastball, but he will couple his natural ability to pitch with his memory bank. He'll keep track of every hitter, which pitch he threw, what the count was and then use the information to his advantage.
He'll take that information and use it against the hitter in the next at-bat. And the game after that, too. Most pitchers rely on their memory at some point in a game, Slusarski says, yet few count on it as much as Douglass.
"Some guys are very, very adaptive doing that," Slusarski said. "They have a super computer up in their brain. Chance very well may have that."
Freud had a super computer-like brain, too. Yet he never earned a win or recorded a strikeout in the Minor Leagues.
Douglass has plenty of each. He set career highs in wins (12) and strikeouts (128) last season at Class A Salem, where he was named the team's MVP.
This year, he's 3-1 with 30 strikeouts through nine starts. His 4.14 ERA is slightly higher than his lifetime mark, though.
Still, Douglass is developing the way the Astros envisioned when they selected him in the 12th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
"He's been progressing nicely," Slusarski said. "His two-seamer's coming along, he's learning to pitch inside very well and his slider is dropping better. I've seen some improvement there."
Besides that two-seamer, Douglass is refining his curveball, slider and changeup. He's starting to locate those pitches more effectively, as well. Now, he's working on consistency with his delivery.
But Douglass' giddy-up fastball, which tops out at 95 mph, is his key to the Majors.
"I'm just getting to where I can trust it in any count and not have to worry about it," Douglass said.
Yet he might worry himself silly if he continues to overanalyze the little things.
"In this game, you can out-think yourself," Slusarski said. "He has a tendency to do that at times, but we'll try and tell him you can't really sweat the little things."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.