|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Texas notes: Reckling regaining form07/05/2011 10:00 AM ET
By Todd Traub / Special to MLB.com
Trevor Reckling was pleased with his third career All-Star nod but, in his third appearance in the Texas League, forgive him if he's hoping for more.
The Arkansas left-hander is still a Los Angeles Angels prospect, and still putting up solid numbers as a starter, but he's also still polishing that fastball command that eluded him last year in his only stint at Triple-A.
"The same confidence I have in my off-speed stuff, which is my breaking ball, curve and changeup, I need to have with the fastball, and everything should work out," said Reckling, who used last week's All-Star Game to get in some bullpen work but did not appear.
In 2009, Reckling arrived at Arkansas from Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga as a 19-year-old filled with ability and faith in his off-speed pitches. He became a Texas League All-Star with a 2.93 ERA, and the Angels named him their Organizational Pitcher of the Year.
Apparently on the fast track, Reckling instead veered off the rails last year at Triple-A Salt Lake, where the more mature Pacific Coast League hitters punish pitchers for mistakes and the ball travels in the league's rare air.
"They're a lot older, more experienced, so they kind of dictated at-bats instead of vice versa," Reckling said. "Sitting on pitches, just waiting on me to get in hitter's counts and fall behind."
Reckling went 4-7 with an 8.53 ERA at Salt Lake, and the Angels reassigned him to Arkansas during last season.
"He's always been a guy that really goes off-speed when he gets in trouble," said Arkansas pitching coach Brandon Emmanuel, Reckling's former Rookie ball coach. "And we think for him to be effective at a higher level, he's really going to have to use his fastball."
Reckling went back to work, and after walking 50 and striking out 46 in Triple-A, he struck out 62 and walked 35 in his second go with Arkansas in 2010 and finished with a 4.56 ERA in Double-A.
Emmanuel said Reckling has been frustrated that he has lost velocity, but with location he can throw hard enough, Emmanuel said, to still have three big league pitches.
"If he can learn to pitch with it at 86 to 90, it will be a blessing, but if it comes back and he's 87 to 93 it will make him better down the road," Emmanuel said.
The work seems to be paying off despite a hard-luck start underscored by an April 19 game against Frisco. Reckling allowed one run on five hits in a rain-shortened 5 2/3 innings, but RoughRiders starter Martin Perez was perfect in getting the victory.
Reckling got his first victory with seven scoreless innings against Northwest Arkansas on May 21, and entering Monday, Reckling was in the Texas League top 10 with a 3.56 ERA and one of five Arkansas pitchers among the league-high nine Travelers named to the North Division All-Star team.
"Definitely it's still an honor," Reckling said. "It's still a blessing by God for me and by the grace of this league to go out for another All-Star Game. It's definitely an accomplishment."
Handy work: San Antonio's James Darnell, the Most Valuable Player in the South Division's 3-2 victory over the North in the Texas League All-Star Game, won his honor for his two-run homer and his catch at the wall in the ninth after moving from third to left. The defensive play, in San Antonio's Wolff Stadium, was a plus for Darnell after he led Texas League third basemen with 24 errors last year. In 70 games at third this year, Darnell has committed 10 errors.
Free Wheeler: Tulsa's Tim Wheeler leads the league with 20 home runs after hitting just five in Rookie ball in 2009 and 12 in the Class A Advanced California League last season.