QCTimes article about Jenkins:Bandits pitcher keeps eye on future
by Steve Batterson
Tyrell Jenkins isn’t looking back.
When the Quad-Cities pitcher took the mound Monday night at Great Lakes, he was ready for a fresh start.
“It was time for a change,” Jenkins said.
That realization sunk in as Jenkins talked with Cardinals minor-league pitching coordinator Brent Strom following a bullpen session a few days earlier prior to a road game against Lansing.
“He showed me some video of me pitching in high school and he told me that he wanted to see that guy again,” Jenkins said. “He wanted me to go back to the way it was when I first signed, the way it ought to be.”
On Monday, that was just how things played out.
Jenkins limited Great Lakes to a pair of hits over a five-inning start, shutting out the Dodgers affiliate and pitching with the authority that allowed St. Louis’ supplemental first-round choice in the 2010 draft to earn his first victory since April 23.
He kept the ball low, kept things simple, benefited from multiple groundball outs and even picked off two baserunners in his longest outing since returning from a shoulder injury which had him on the disabled list throughout much of June.
“What we saw was the Tyrell we all expected to see this season,” River Bandits manager Luis Aguayo said. “He kept his fastball down in the zone, was throwing it in the mid-90s and he was keeping his change-up down in the zone. It was a good start.”
It was exactly what the 6-foot-4 right-hander, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Friday, needed.
Jenkins said Strom encouraged him to simply take the mound and not over-think things.
“I tried to not be so mechanical. I wanted to stay loose and fluid, just lift my leg and throw the way I did in high school,” Jenkins said. “The ball had good movement, and I was able to hit my spots. It was a good outing.”
It was the type of outing Jenkins needed after going 1-3 with an ERA hovering over 5.00 through his first dozen starts of the season.
He has worked 58 innings for Quad-Cities, striking out 54 batters and walking 28.
Jenkins said he has not lacked confidence or felt uncomfortable in previous starts this season.
“But, I wasn’t pitching the way I can,” he said. “I was walking too many batters, leaving too many balls up, and in this league, you pay when that happens. It was time to get back to the basics. In talking with ‘Stromy,’ he told me to forget all of the stuff I had been told the last couple of years and to just go out and pitch.”
The results provide Jenkins with a fresh start.
“I don’t care to look back at what happened earlier this season. I’ve never done that,” Jenkins said. “I should be able to gain some confidence from my last start and we’ll move forward from there.”
Aguayo is anxious to see what that entails.
“He has seven starts or so left, and if he wants to put himself in a position to move up, most of them will need to be quality starts,” Aguayo said. “He’s capable. He showed us that with his last start, and hopefully he can string some good outings together.”
That’s the plan.
“I was able to put up some zeroes on the board at Great Lakes, and hopefully in my next start on Monday, I can keep that going,” Jenkins said. “I’m feeling good, feeling strong and I’m ready to finish the season strong.”
He’ll take what he has learned so far this season — the value of keeping the ball down and working ahead in the count — and attempt to apply them as he works toward the River Bandits’ September finish line and the end of his first full season in professional baseball.
“How a person finishes says a lot about an individual’s character, and finishing this season strong is important to me,” Jenkins said. “I want to make the most out of the starts I have left and head into the offseason feeling good about the progress I’ve made this season.”
The Jenkins file
Hometown: Hendersonville, Texas
Born: July 20, 1992
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 180 pounds
Obtained: Supplemental first round (50th overall), 2010 draft
By the numbers: Went 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 starts at Johnson City in 2011 … Is 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA for Quad-Cities
FYI: Signed with the Cardinals after bypassing a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Baylor