June 6, 2007, Media News Group
The big news for the Birds after Boston is Brad Bergesen’s MLB debut on Tuesday night. The O’s 2004 fourth round pick out of Foothill High School in Pleasanton, Calif., faces off against the White Sox at Camden Yards at 7:05.
So what do we know about Brad Bergesen?
Bergesen’s minor league stats over the course of five seasons from Bluefield to Bowie are as follows: 32-23, 3.75 ERA, six complete games, two shutouts, 307 strikeouts, 87 walks.
Prior to being drafted, Bergesen was the Contra Costa Times’ 2004 Male Athlete of the Year. As a senior outfielder, he tallied a .469 average, 36 RBI and 31 runs scored. He was equally impressive on the bump with a 12-0 record, 0.67 ERA, 118 strikeouts, and 16 walks.
A multi-sport high school star, Bergesen was a 2002 “Player to Watch” in the San Francisco Chronicle’s High school football forecasts. He ended his brief football career after two seasons and two knee surgeries. Bergesen also played basketball as a freshman before those aforementioned knee problems limited his court time.
Some other Bergesen links:
He succeeds by mixing his pitches, changing speeds, hitting his spots and trusting his defense.
Q: Is there any pitcher, past or present, that you either look up to or try to model your approach after?
A: Growing up, I always liked watching Nolan Ryan. He’s obviously a power pitcher and I don’t see myself as being that same type of pitcher, but that’s who I liked growing up. Brandon Webb, a big groundball pitcher, is a guy I like to watch also.
Q: How soon do you think you’ll be ready to help the Orioles?
A: That’s not my decision, obviously. That’s what I hope for, and anytime, I would be just absolutely thrilled to get that call-up. But again, that’s not up to me; I can just hope for the best.
The key to Bergesen’s success so far has been locating his sinker while mixing in an improved slider, which Griff says is “very average,” a step up from where it was last year, and an average changeup. Griff likes to stress tempo, so if Bergesen has a good tempo, his sinker will stay down, the slider will have a nice tilt to it, and his changeup will fool lefties.
“He’s been talking to me a lot about [tempo and slowing down] the last three outings,” Bergesen explained. “He’s been talking me a lot about [tempo and slowing down] the last three outings. So, my thing is that I start to work a little too quick, so [Griff] has had me really pay attention to myself about where my tempo is and where my speed.”
When Bergesen’s tempo is off his sinker stays up. When the ball is left up, it is very hittable. In his win against Reading on July 18, all three of his runs were given up on solo homers, all three sinkers that didn’t. But, again, his plus control bails him out of giving up the occasional home run by minimizing the base runners.
While adjusting to a good tempo in a game is one thing Bergesen has been working on, there is one other glaring stat that shows a potential issue. Left-handed batters are hitting for a .316 average, compared to just .201 for right-handed batters. For now, this problem is alleviated by his plus control. He has walked just 20 batters in Bowie this season, so far.
Brad started his first career experience at the Double-A level by winning each of his first five decisions, a streak which he matched from July 18th-August 12th.
The Concord, California native has already set a new Bowie franchise record for wins in a season and he was selected as the right-handed starting pitcher on the 2008 Eastern League All-Star Team. Bergesen was also the starting pitcher for the Southern Division at the 2008 Northeast Delta Dental Eastern League All-Star Game and he retired all three batters that he faced.
Image source: Zimbio (click photo to link to original)