Mental acuity helping Gregorio progress

Understanding of development process complements young righty's quality pitches

Mental acuity helping Gregorio progress

SAN FRANCISCO -- If knowledge is power, then right-hander Joan Gregorio is among the most mentally fortified pitchers in the Giants' farm system.

Gregorio, ranked seventh among Giants prospects by, demonstrated during a recent interview that he has a firm grasp on what he must do to develop his skills and continue advancing toward the Major Leagues.

"Locate my fastball, attack the strike zone more, get ahead in the count and be consistent as far as where I want to throw the ball, which means the inside and outside corners and moving the ball around," the 25-year-old right-hander said through a translator at the Rookie Career Development Program organized by Major League Baseball and the Players' Association. "That's what I need to do for now. Put a hitter away."

Standing 6-foot-7, Gregorio has the potential to establish an imposing presence on the mound. Should he succeed in adding weight to his 180-pound frame, his stuff likely would improve along with his stature.

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Then again, it's not as if Gregorio lacks life on his pitches. He can reach 95 mph with his fastball, which he complements with a tricky slider.

"Any pitcher's best pitch is his fastball," Gregorio said. "But to play at a higher level and be a Major Leaguer, you've got to have a second pitch -- as we say, a nasty one -- to put a hitter away."

Gregorio received the opportunity to refine his hard stuff in 2015, when the Giants moved him to the bullpen so he could throw his pitches without abandon instead of reserving energy as a starter would. The strategy worked, as Gregorio recorded a 2.34 ERA in nine starts for Double-A Richmond after rejoining the rotation in late mid-July.

"It helped me a lot, because there I was able to work on the flaws in my game," he said. "I learned how to locate my fastball better. When you come in from the bullpen, you prepare more quickly to work. It helped me a lot."

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Like many young pitchers, Gregorio continues to strive for consistency. He struck out 152 batters in 134 1/3 innings last season between Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento. But his combined record was 6-10 with a 4.69 ERA. Realizing that Gregorio sometimes struggles to repeat his delivery due to his considerable height, the Giants are willing to be patient.

When Gregorio receives his call to the Majors, expect him to celebrate his Dominican heritage with his selection of entrance music to be played on the public-address system.

"I like my music from the Dominican Republic: Anthony Santos, or Dembow style, as we call it. You know, traditional genres from there," Gregorio said.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.