Salazar's encouraging start has him on way to Columbus
Indians promote promising righty to Columbus on Tuesday night
Salazar, 23, has fared better than Jimenez this season, as he is presently 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA and a 51:10 K:BB. In three appearances from April 20-May 2, Salazar didn’t allow an earned run. On Tuesday, his final start with the Aeros, he tossed five innings against the Erie SeaWolves and yielded just one run.
The Cleveland Indians signed Salazar as a non-drafted free agent back in 2006 and since then, he has slowly ascended his way through the system. In 2010, he was sidelined most of the season as he underwent reconstruction surgery on his elbow.
Last season, Salazar started the year in high-A Carolina, where he posted a 1-2 record and 2.68 ERA through 16 games before his promotion to Akron, where he went 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA. Now, he says his elbow is feeling good and he feels healthier overall.
“I feel great right now so far,” Salazar said. “I was working in the offseason a lot and spring training just to get healthy and I feel good right now.” The organization currently has him on a pitch limit, which consists of five innings or 85 pitches per start.
With one month of the season in the books, Salazar said he is focusing on his third pitch. His fastball, which ranges in the mid-90s, is his biggest strength and he also feels confident in his change-up. His slider is his current project and so far, it’s worked out well for him as the pitch appears to have hard, late movement that Salazar has been able to locate well.
Aeros’ manager Edwin Rodriguez agreed that Salazar has mastered the fastball, but his secondary pitches are his lifeline for the future. “He’s a very powerful pitcher with a very powerful fastball,” Rodriguez said. “The arm strength is there. His secondary pitches are very important from here on.”
The key to Salazar’s slider rests within the seams. Rodriguez explained that Salazar occasionally tries to put too much spin on the ball, which deters his release point.
Rodriguez is confident in Salazar’s improvement and knows that as the season progresses, so will Salazar. “He knows that it might take time and he might be inconsistent at the beginning of the season but eventually, he will find his release point for those secondary pitches and after that he will feel more comfortable throwing them,” Rodriguez said.
Comfort isn’t Salazar’s problem, as he feels confident in his elbow and the level he’s at. He said spending time with Akron last year was helpful and that he feels better about his approach against hitters – even lefties.
“Right now, my average against lefties is a little high,” Salazar noted – though .236 hardly seems too high. “But I feel more comfortable throwing to them because I can use my change-up a little bit more.”
Confidence has fared well for Salazar, which is reflected in his most recent achievement – Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. Salazar received the award for the week of April 29-May 5, during which he shut out the Altoona Curve through six innings, allowing just one hit as he struck out 12.
Salazar’s achievements did not go unnoticed, as according to his tweet on Tuesday night he was promoted to AAA-Columbus, a clear testament to his progression and the stellar season he’s had so far.
Now that he has a plan for the season and has his pitches under control, Salazar is heading south to take on the next level. If all goes according to plan, his next move will be north to Cleveland, alongside his workout partner Jimenez.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.
Man, it would be great if Salazar is for real. Even if his future is the pen.
Imagine next year.
With maybe Brett Meyers as insurance.
My advice, don't take any that you do not request.