Interrogation Room: Chris Hook

Timber Rattlers Pitching Coach Chris Hook looks stylish in his one of a kind Hook-A-T.

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | February 9, 2010 8:22 AM ET

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Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pitching coach Chris Hook is getting ready to open his second season in Appleton .  He has kept busy this past off-season.  There has been Instructional League, his work with At The Yard, a pitching symposium with the Brewers, and just his all around creativity to keep him busy.

Before he heads out to Spring Training, he has to make it through The Interrogation Room.

Q.  One of the stories that fans of the Milwaukee Brewers have been following is the pitching symposium in January that included: club officials as well as pitching coaches, trainers and medical personnel from throughout the system.  What was the result of this meeting?

A. Basically, we discussed as a whole how we can do a better job of developing quality long term major league pitchers including what kind of pitcher we want to draft, how we develop that pitcher and how we can maintain his health for the long term.

Q. It was noted that pitching coaches could submit topics for discussion.  What were some of your topics?

A. The great thing about this symposium was that everyone had a chance for input.  I mentioned topics like max pitch count per inning and a more flexible total pitch count.  All things were discussed as a group and in the end Gord [Ash], Lee Tunnell, and Reid [Nichols] will come up with the protocol in which we will follow as a pitching development staff.
. Rick Peterson is the new pitching coach for the Brewers and he has a system that: is based on biomechanics, which focuses on assessing a pitcher's chance of injury while also maximizing performance.  Can you put that into terms so easy that a radio announcer can understand it?

A. Biomechanics is the reading of a stress test done on the pitching delivery. With this approach, techniques that you might see used in video games and movies will be incorporated into looking at pitchers' delivery by using silver reflective balls and a body suit. A computer will analyze the delivery and point out deficiencies and stress points. Once the organization has this type of information we can determine if we should change delivery, workload, side work, etc. I have not been associated with a lot of this testing but I understand the concept and look forward to learning more about it as we move to integrate more into our Pitching Development system. 
Last week, we asked Corey Kemp for his opinion on the development of Wily Peralta, Cody Scarpetta, and Efrain Nieves -- since those are the three pitchers from last year's team who are getting a lot of publicity from prospect magazines and websites -- from a catcher's perspective.  From your point of view as a pitching coach, what did you think of the development of those three?

A. Wily made a lot of progress in terms of having an understanding of what it takes to prepare to be a major league starter. Obviously the stuff is there but I think he will look back to the '09 season and know that is where he started to understand what he had to do to prepare physically and mentally to tackle a full season. If he can continue to get better with core stability I think we will see some wonderful things out of Wily.
Cody Scarpetta developed as a professional throughout the year. He made adjustments to his work routine; he made some slight delivery adjustments and, most of all, in game adjustments such as controlling the rhythm of the game and learning how to finish off innings. Cody has a slight advantage over some other 21-year-olds out there - he knows what a professional pitcher goes through and, of course, his Dad has helped with that. Cody also made some adjustments in Instructional League that I think will help with his breaking ball consistency which he struggled with at times this past year.

Efrain really had a mentally tough season and for a 19 year old kid he really stuck it out well. I had to constantly remind myself that he was 19 and to really stay focused on the big picture with him and not what might be unfolding in front of him at that moment. He was a joy to work with, always a smile on his face and he is a kid that wants to get better. I think he understands now that being a command guy... who he is; he will have to be able to repeat his delivery and location with a little more consistency to continue to make progress.  I know he did well after he left us for the World Cup and I hope he continues that path.
Q. The three pitchers mentioned above got a lot of the off-season press.  Who are some of the overlooked guys on the staff from last year who may be making some noise in the Brewers' system this year?

A. The one guy that really stands out to me is "Big Fred". Evan [Frederickson] had some delivery issues that did take some time to iron out. During Instructional League he was able to take on some late season delivery adjustments and just go out and throw and the results were fantastic. He was hardly recognizable! The great thing about that is you could really start to see a guy who was not only confident but comfortable in his delivery because it felt good. Sometimes a whole season can be turned around by one pitch... and with Evan I think he would probably say he felt that turnaround in late August.

Q. When Jeff Isom was in The Interrogation Room earlier this year, he was asked about '09 draft picks Eric Arnett and Kyle Heckathorn possibly being Timber Rattlers in 2010.  Instead of asking you if Arnett and Heckathorn will be in Appleton , I'll ask you this:  What do you think of those two pitchers from what you may have seen yourself or heard from others in the organization?

A. I think they are really big humans! I really enjoyed getting to know each of them in Instructional League and much like the guys previously mentioned they have a lot of work to do. They also need to learn what it takes to be big league starters. Will the organization have them at Time Warner in 2010? Time will tell but I think both of them will end up where the organization feels that can achieve a certain innings mark and do it with moderate success as they develop.

Q. You're on twitter as @ATYChris.  You are obviously Chris and ATY stands for At The Yard.  What is At The Yard?

A. AT THE YARD has been a lot of things for me. It started in 1997 as a website as I was winding down my playing career - it turned into a magazine in 2003 that was distributed throughout Minor League Baseball until 2006.

AT THE YARD is also a Baseball Training Center located in my hometown in the   Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. ATY is in its 8th year of developing young players in NKY and I (along with former Big Leaguer, Brandon Berger and a host of other staff) enjoy working with the young kids immensely. It creates a nice balance for me and provides another way that I can help make a difference in my community. 

On twitter - I think I am finally getting into a groove!  It was hard to grasp at first but I am enjoying connecting with people and sharing some of my ideas and thoughts on the game I care deeply about.

Jeff and I are big fans of technology and computers, it wouldn't be an odd thing for us to be on the internet looking for the next tech goodie or concept.
Q. Have you collected/designed any more Hook-A-Tees?

Man oh Man, I had to shut down production because of overwhelming demand. Once you released that pic on your blog... Hook-A-Tee HQ's phones and emails were blowing up! I had to shut it down to make sure I maintained focus on developing Milwaukee 's next pitching superstars.  We did get a few W's out of the Hook-A-Tees though, didn't we?! :)
Q. The bullpens at Time Warner Cable Field will be beyond the outfield fence this season.  Would you use a bullpen car at any time to get to or from the new bullpen location?

A. Definitely! Be sure to crank up the heat during the first month of the season so I can defrost my toes. In all seriousness we'll have to see how that works out - as long as my starter doesn't mind, I don't.

Q. How much are you looking forward the to 2010 baseball season?

A. I am looking forward to coming back. By the looks of the Instructional League, our scouting staff has once again brought some nice looking players into the organization and our young pitching looks very good. We will see what we break with in April and who goes where... I look forward to developing some new guys as well as winning some ball games for all those crazy, tailgating T-Rat fans!

Past editions of The Interrogation Room

1/7: Jeff Isom

1/14: Brock Kjeldgaard

1/19: Cody Scarpetta

1/26:  Jim Henderson

2/2: Corey Kemp

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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