It was a whirlwind 2010 season for right-hander Josh Collmenter, who began the year in the Class A Advanced California League, pitched in both Double-A and Triple-A (he was named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week
after throwing seven shutout innings in a sterling debut
with Reno) before closing out the year with a strong performance in the elite Arizona Fall League
. The 24-year-old was added to the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster
on Nov. 19.
Collmenter went 14-6 with a 3.38 ERA in a career-high 152 innings during the regular season and 4-0 with a 3.04 mark over 26 2/3 AFL frames. He tied for the Fall League lead with four victories and 30 strikeouts as his Scottsdale Scorpions club captured their first championship.
MiLB.com caught up with Collmenter in mid-December.
MiLB.com: What have you been up to since the end of the Arizona Fall League?
Collmenter: Trying to stay in shape while giving my arm a little break. Doing a little hunting now that I'm back home [in Michigan].
MiLB.com: The Diamondbacks recently added you to their 40-man roster. What did that mean to you?
Collmenter: I wasn't really expecting it, but I knew I had a chance. My mind-set heading into the Arizona Fall League was to pitch well and get my name in the mix for it. I got the call right before the end of the fall league. It really means a lot to me -- being a 15th-round pick, there's not necessarily a lot expected of you. After four seasons in the organization, it feels really good to know that [the Diamondbacks] have confidence in me.
MiLB.com: You have a rather unusual delivery on the mound, throwing essentially directly over the top. How did that come about? Have coaches tried to change it? Why do you think it works?
Collmenter: I actually didn't realize it for a long time! My mom took some video of me pitching for my high school graduation -- that's the first time I ever saw myself pitch. That's just the way I've always thrown. It feels natural to me. Now when people ask me about it, I'll joke that I was a tomahawk-throwing champion when I was a kid.
When I got to college [at Central Michigan], my coach loved it. I think it's a little different for the hitters -- they're not used to seeing pitches come from there, so maybe it helps make my changeup more effective.
MiLB.com: Central Michigan isn't thought of as a hotbed of baseball talent, but you've got a couple of fellow Chippewas in the Minors. Do you guys talk much?
Collmenter: Yeah, it's pretty cool. Dan Taylor is actually in the Diamondbacks system with me and Dale Cornstubble [a catcher in the Royals system] not only went to Central but grew up in my hometown. There are some schools where it seems like they have a dozen guys drafted every year, so it's neat to talk to people from Central or from the [Mid-American Conference] who have backgrounds a little more like mine.
MiLB.com: You pitched at three different levels during the regular season and were dominant in the Cal League and Southern League, but had a few more struggles in the Pacific Coast League. What was the difference?
Collmenter: I think it was just a difference in executing my pitches. I've always tried to trust my stuff, but in Triple-A, the hitters are more experienced. You know, I could maybe fool someone with a pitch or get them to chase outside the zone once, but the more experienced hitters won't do it a second time. You've got to keep making adjustments as the game and the season go along.
MiLB.com: One scouting report suggested that you work opposite most strikeout pitchers -- that is, you often get ahead of hitters with off-speed pitches, then put them away with the fastball. Is that something you are conscious of?
Collmenter: In a way, yeah. I guess I'm just trying not to be predictable. In some leagues you're playing teams 20 times a year and you can't always establish the fastball. My goal is to be able to throw any pitch in any count and keep hitters off balance. When you fall into patterns, you get into trouble.
MiLB.com: What's your favorite thing to do during the season when you have extra downtime?
Collmenter: Just hanging out with the guys away from the field. Sometimes we'll play a round of golf, or play some video games. I've been part of a group of great guys that have kind of moved up together over the last few years, so it's pretty fun to hang out with them.
MiLB.com: You had kind of a strange experience at the Southern League All-Star Game this year -- the North team was short of pitching, so despite being on a South Division team, you started for the North and got the win. How did that come about?
Collmenter: When we got there, Jacksonville's pitching coach asked us [South Division pitchers] how much we could throw. It had been several days since my last start, so I was working on full rest and told him I was fresh.
At first they were going to make the game seven innings, but then the president of the league said no way -- people coming out for this want to see a full nine-inning game. So they asked me if I could go two innings and I said sure, then they asked if I'd pitch for the North and I said okay. It was strange pitching against my own teammates [from Mobile]. I was glad none of them did anything big against me or I'd have heard about it all season.
MiLB.com: What was your experience like in the Arizona Fall League? Was going there something you were expecting or had as a goal?
Collmenter: It was kind of a goal I had in the back of my mind, but I wasn't expecting it because I'd already thrown a lot of innings during the season. It was a little strange at first -- all of a sudden you're on a team with guys from other [big league] clubs, some of them guys you've played against. Everyone was kind of feeling each other out.
It started to click early on, though. We had a great relationship in the clubhouse and everyone was playing well. People would go in and out of the lineup and it didn't matter, like interchangeable parts. It was a great experience, especially with us winning.
MiLB.com: A few years ago you received an endorsement from the American Mustache Institute and were the subject of Josh Collmenter Mustache Awareness Night in South Bend. What's your relationship with facial hair like these days?
Collmenter: It was just us goofing off in the clubhouse. At some point we were sitting around and someone dared me to shave my goatee down to a mustache, and things were going well on the field, so I kept it. A buddy of mine and I in school had always grown beards and mustaches and shaved them off just to do it, but that season it became kind of a phenomenon. Basically, I just don't like shaving.