Horst calm heading into playoffs
Hurler says he wants to keep mentality of a regular-season game heading into Game 1.
By Marc Katz
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
DAYTON — Who is in the Midwest League playoffs?
Not always the players you'd expect.
Ty Howington was a No. 1 draft pick by the Reds, yet he pitched to only one batter (walking him) in the playoffs during the Dayton Dragons' first season, 2000.
Chris Gruler? Another No. 1 pick who lost his only playoff game.
Homer Bailey, another No. 1 pick? His Dragons team didn't even make the playoffs.
Tonight, Sept. 3, Jeremy Horst is the choice of the Dragons to pitch the first game against Lansing, and they held him back a day to put him in this position. Horst is 8-2 with a 2.38 ERA, and pitching coach Doug Bair calls him one of the best two lefties in the organization below Class AAA level.
"I told him not to change anything," said Bair of Horst's playoff assignment. "Some guys try to make their fastballs better and their changeups better during the playoffs. I told Jeremy to make the hitters adjust to him, not try to adjust to them."
Howington and Gruler never made it to the majors, succumbing to arm injuries. Bailey has had limited success with the Reds, but he's only 22.
Horst, a 21st-round draft pick last summer, has never been mentioned in the same breath with any of them, yet here he is, with a stunning record to match.
"I've had some success this year," said Horst, who began the season in the bullpen. "I feel like I've worked hard, also. I've worked on the mental part of the game, learning how to pitch instead of just throwing. I've got a lot more to learn."
While this is only his second professional baseball season, Horst has been around, especially in the cold. Born in Cheyenne, Wyo., not quite 23 years ago, he grew up in Burlington, N.D., and lives in Green Bay, Wis.
"I'm fortunate," Horst said. "I've always wanted to play baseball. Growing up in Burlington, I went to a small school where all the same guys played football, basketball and baseball. My graduating class was 34 kids.
"I played football and baseball and when I was 12, I played for three baseball teams, Bambino, Babe Ruth and American Legion. I spent all day at the diamond. I learned how to build a mound and put down chalk lines. I don't see myself not playing baseball."
It took him awhile to get here. He attended a junior college in Iowa and a four-year school in Georgia, dabbled with some offers from the Pirates and White Sox and was finally drafted and signed by the Reds.
It can be argued he is now the best pitcher on the Dragons, which is why he's opening the playoffs.
"I'm trying not to change anything," Horst said. "I know there's a playoff feeling, but I want this to be like a regular-season game. Don't try to do too much. You got to the playoffs by performing a certain way."
Some day, Horst may get to the big leagues performing that way.