Trenton, New Jersey — Brody Colvin had quite an introduction back to a starting role. After pitching out of the bullpen this year, he was put back in the rotation and just in time to face embattled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
The Reading Fightins faced the Trenton Thunder in a three game series, that included two games with Rodriguez in the lineup, in the midst of suspension controversy. Righty Colvin came second. In Game One of the series, top Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle took the mound. He gave up a two-run home run to Rodriguez.
Colvin was paying attention and certainly appeared to have a plan. He walked Rodriguez three times and issued five walks overall over five innings; the walks allowed have been a struggle for him at times. In his fourth year of pro ball, he’s given up 44 free passes in 67 innings this season; he ended 2012 with 74 in 138 innings pitched. But the August 2nd outing was his toughest since mid-July, when his ERA ballooned and he allowed three runs on four hits, and surrendered a season-high six walks.
Colvin wasn’t just avoiding contact to Rodriguez. Other than a few high and tight pitches, he was consistently on the outside corners. And he wasn’t hitting that part of the plate for strikes. In 2012 he struck out 109 in 138 innings pitched; this year he has 30 in 67 innings. His progress has been slowed this year by injury and re-injury to the groin. But overall in his career he’s remained healthy.
Back to the walks. He’s tenth in the Eastern League in BB’s allowed (44) and third of all Reading pitchers (Biddle’s 62 walks actually tops the EL). In his most recent performance, he struggled to find the strike zone, and had difficulty controlling the ball. He was more economical early in the game, in the first and second innings, but couldn’t command his pitches in the later innings.
Colvin’s ERA has been way up all season, but his physical health has to be factored in. He didn’t appear to have a lot of trust in his ability to locate his fastball. But he did mix in a good number of groundball outs and worked quickly in a jam a few times. For his first start back, he went five innings, allowed five earned runs on six hits, and struck out two.
Colvin, 22, is durable and, despite injuries this year, projects well. His workload has been heavy throughout his career, and he can clearly handle eating innings and giving his team a solid chance to win in a starting role. It might do him good to have another half-season in Double-A, but if he can finish strong, he’s not far from earning a big league call.