Oklahomans can be found in many facets of professional baseball, and winter is a good time to ask their thoughts on different aspects of the game.
That's what The Oklahoman is doing in an occasional series, which continues with former Edmond Santa Fe pitcher Ty Hensley.
Hensley was taken by the New York Yankees as the No. 30 overall pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June. Last school year, he was 10-0 with a 1.52 ERA, striking out 111 in 55 1/3 innings in helping Edmond Santa Fe to the Class 6A semifinals.
He was named the Gatorade Oklahoma Baseball Player of the Year and earned All-America honors from several organizations.
And, Hensley was awarded the Bob Colon Scholarship as the top male scholar-athlete this past school year in the Oklahoma City area by The Oklahoman and the Jim Thorpe Association.
Q: Share with us the importance from a pitcher's perspective of holding a runner on.
A: The higher you go, as far as like the better competition you play, it's a lot different in pro ball than it is in high school of course. There are a lot smarter runners in pro ball and as you climb up the levels they just get smarter. So it's really important, mixing up your looks to each base and showing multiple types of pickoff moves, not your best every time but you know you've got to mix in kind of a like a show-me move or one that's just kind of average and then mix in a good one every now, and then try and pick somebody off.
It's important to hold people on, because if they steal that bag and you just get like a little bloop hit, it's a run you could have saved.
Please tell me about the importance of a pitcher holding runners on and the importance of Pitcher Fielding Practice (PFP).
I've learned in pro ball, probably not the easy way, but I made a few mistakes in a couple of games with PFP. Honestly I hadn't been doing them enough. They're really important because if you get a ball back to you, that's just a free out. You did your job, you threw the right pitches to the hitter and all you've got to do is just make a nice easy throw over there. But sometimes as pitchers you want to make it more complicated than it is. PFPs are really important to practice and perfect so when you're in that situation you don't make any mistakes where you throw it 50 feet over the guy's head into the stands. Really the most important thing is probably footwork, just making sure we're taking all the right angles to the bases we're supposed to go to, we're really squaring up to where we're trying to throw the ball and making a nice, clean accurate throw.