(BaseballStL) -- Englewood Cliffs, NJ, is a city of just fewer than 6,000 people along the banks of the Hudson River. “First exit off the George Washington Bridge when you cross into New Jersey,” Cardinals 2013 first-round pick Rob Kaminsky says.
Kaminsky, now just 19 years old, was the 28th player taken in that draft, out of St. Joseph Regional High School in near-by Montvale. The well-built lefty’s fastball hits the low to mid 90s. “I’m a power guy,” he says simply after throwing a side session for Peoria Chiefs’ pitching coach Jason Simontacchi.
His job now is to learn how to pitch instead of just throwing.
“They kept me in extended Spring training for a month,” he says. “Best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve got better command of my pitches. My curveball was my best off-speed pitch and now we’re working on the change. I’ve got to take a little more off that (speed). I’m still learning the game.”
Kaminsky, rated as the number 7 prospect in the Cards’ minor league system before the season, credits Simontacchi for helping him develop the mental aspect of pitching. “It really helps a lot because (Simontacchi) has been there, he was a big league pitcher.
“I’ve been watching the hitters more, seeing how they react to things. I also need to work on my front side extension and being able to repeat my mechanics,” he said excitedly, echoing Simontacchi’s constant admonition.
It is not hard to see what the Cardinal’s scouts saw in the 5-11, 190 pound Kaminsky. Fastballs get there quickly and the sharp-breaking fastball keeps hitters off balance.
But he is not cocky, despite being selected in the first round. “I had moments where I wondered if my stuff would play up here. So I was constantly asking hitters a lot of questions in Spring training, trying to see how they would react and what their thoughts were up there.”
So far, Kaminsky’s success has the attention of the Cardinals’ organization. In early July, he was 4-1 as a starter with an ERA of just 1.26. He was recording nearly a strikeout an inning with just 12 walks in 50 innings.
Still, he knows, he has a lot to learn about the craft of pitching and more importantly, all the things that come with it.
“I want to develop a good working attitude.”