This year hasn't been nearly as smooth sailing for the Syracuse Chiefs as the past two, but as Aaron Goldstein reports, one of their all-stars has been right on target.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Throwing strikes is what Tom Milone does best.
"The confidence I have to be able to throw strikes is there all the time, and any situation, I feel like I can throw any pitch," Milone, an all-star pitcher for the Syracuse Chiefs, said.
And the numbers support it. In 103 innings this year, he's struck out 107 batters and walked only seven.
"You put your finger down, he says yes, you put your glove, and the ball goes straight to the glove," Chiefs catcher Jhonatan Solano said. "Man, he's unbelievable."
"It's a confidence thing. And he's thrown strikes since he's been at USC. He's been a strike thrower," Chiefs Pitching Coach Greg Booker said.
And while the numbers make it seem like Milone throws strikes all the time, that is not really the case. But what Milone says is key for him is that perception is more important than reality.
"It's not always that I'm throwing strikes, it's that the hitters really think that I'm going to throw a strike. When I'm behind in a count, or 3-2, or something like that, I can leave the zone and get a swing in a miss," Milone said.
That reputation started way back in high school when Milone's fastball only topped out at 80 miles per hour. Even now, he rarely reaches 90 mph.
"You still can be successful with not throwing hard. You can do different things, change speeds, and keep the ball low, and work in and out to keep hitters off balance," Milone said.
That strategy has helped turn him into an all-star at AA and AAA. But as for getting to the majors, he's in no rush.
"I'm not really too worried about that. Hopefully, I can just keep pitching the way I am and give them a reason to call me up," Milone said.
And with the way he's been pitching, he won't give them one reason, he'll give them three.