Carolina notes: Chleborad bulks up for Keys

Frederick closer seeing results after offseason training program

Tanner Chleborad is seven-for-seven in save opportunities for Frederick this season. (Frederick Keys)

By Damien Sordelett / Special to MiLB.com | July 5, 2017 10:00 AM ET

Tanner Chleborad was asked to do something this past offseason that he's always had difficulty accomplishing: put on weight.

The reason behind the request from the Baltimore Orioles was simple -- if Chleborad could add to his 6-foot-6 frame, specifically in his core and legs, his repeatability with pitches and his durability would drastically improve.

That's what happened for the 24-year-old Washington State product.

Focused on eating healthy and spending quality time in the weight room, Chleborad added 20 pounds of muscle during the offseason and has avoided stints on the disabled list that hindered his first two full seasons in the Orioles system.

The added durability has allowed him to shine as the Frederick Keys closer. Chleborad, who now weighs 220 pounds, has converted all seven save opportunities this season, and he was a Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star.

"I think it's helped," Chleborad said of the offseason weight gain. "A lot of the strength and weight came in my legs and midsection. That's allowed me to perform at a high level and stay healthy every single day."

The strength in his core and legs has allowed Chleborad to add velocity to his fastball -- which he said sits between 92 and 93 mph after ranging around 90 before this season -- and it's allowed his changeup and slider to become more effective.

Chleborad has allowed only two earned runs and has not issued a walk in his seven saves.

Despite an 0-2 record and 3.38 ERA, he has allowed only five earned runs since April, which he credits with following a routine that has suited his pitching style.

"I would say following a good routine," Chleborad said. "Having good routines, staying within yourself when you're in the game, and executing to the best of your ability, which you're supposed to do."

Chleborad was a starter at Washington State, but began transitioning into a bullpen role with Class A Delmarva in 2015. He made only one start in 2016 and has appeared out of the bullpen in 53 consecutive appearances with Frederick and Double-A Bowie.

The move to the bullpen was out of necessity after the 2014 16th-round pick landed on the disabled list twice in his first two full professional seasons.

Chleborad was placed on the DL early in the 2015 season, and he found himself on the seven-day DL again in April 2016 with a right-shoulder injury.

His transition into a bullpen role feature mixed results. Chleborad was 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA in a career-high 51 1/3 innings with Frederick. However, he converted only 2 of 6 save opportunities and surrendered four home runs.

Chleborad spent the offseason at home in South Dakota and began a workout regime to add muscle.

"Getting in a good weight-room routine and eating healthy," he said. "Trying to stay away from those McDonald's and Hardee's and all that stuff, but just eating a lot of food and getting after it in the weight room."

He returned to Spring Training with the added muscle and it immediately paid dividends.

Chleborad's fastball velocity increased and he did not feel pain in his delivery.

"It allows me to have a repeatable delivery every single time and have a little something behind the fastball, a little bit more on the breaking ball," Chleborad said.

In brief

Continued domination: It has been a little more than a month and Carolina League hitters are still having a difficult time figuring out Lynchburg right-hander Aaron Civale. The Indians' No. 19 prospect improved to 5-1 after delivering seven shutout innings Monday night at Frederick. Civale allowed only four baserunners and threw 85 pitches. In his seven starts since being promoted from Class A Lake County on May 30, the third-round selection from the 2016 Draft has struck out 40 and walked only three in 43 1/3 innings.

Good time for a first: Myrtle Beach first baseman Matt Rose had never hit a triple as a professional since being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 11th round in 2015. That changed in the 11th inning of the Pelicans' 11-7 victory Monday night at Down East. Rose tripled to center field to cap a 3-for-5 night. He drove in three runs and finished a single shy of his first career cycle.

Quick turnaround for All-Star: Isan Diaz was in a bit of a slump when the All-Star break rolled around in late June. The Carolina Mudcats shortstop's batting average dipped to a season-low .212 and he was not driving in runs on a consistent basis. That has changed in the past three games. The Brewers No. 5 prospect has recorded seven hits and driven in five runs in his past three games, boosting his batting average 17 points to .230.

Damien Sordelett is a contributor to MiLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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