Courtesy of StepOutside.org

Altoona Watch: Marvel’s prep key to success

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James Marvel. -- Akron RubberDucks

ALTOONA, Pa. -- James Marvel ended the 2018 season with Altoona in dominating fashion going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts and recording 22 strikeouts in the process. The 25-year old right hander has picked up right where he left off recording a 2-1 record and 1.99 ERA through four starts this season. 

How has he done it?

The key, according to Curve manager Michael Ryan, is Marvel's preparation.

"The way he prepares, you just wish everyone would prepare that way," Ryan said. "He has a plan coming into each game and he does a good job with it."

It was that preparation and attention to detail following his previous outing against Harrisburg that helped him return to form against Richmond this Saturday in an outing that garnered him Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors. The Duke product threw seven shutout innings allowing one hit while walking one and striking out two in a complete game victory, a victory which ended a six-game losing streak for Altoona.

The preparation between starts is simple according to the former 36th round pick of the Pirates.

"Try to be more efficient, look at the video, work with my pitching coach and catchers in between outings," Marvel said. "It comes down to challenging guys, getting early contact, getting guys in and out of the box quicker."

Preparation combined with execution has helped propel Marvel to his incredible start to the season.

"I think I've thrown the ball pretty well in terms of execution. I think I've executed a lot of good pitches," Marvel said. "You know opening night was really solid and my next time out was I executed pretty well despite what the box score may have said at the end."

For the San Francisco native, it's not the preparation and execution that matter most to him while he's on the mound. It's the team and the successes of said team.

"When I'm pitching the only thing that matters is if we win the game so despite feeling good I'd take a team W over feeling like I executed well," Marvel said.

The 6-foot-4 Marvel is a coach's dream athlete with a plus fastball and plus off speed, but it's his attitude and what he brings to the table each game that endears him to his coaches.

"He keeps us in the game, that's what he does with each start," Ryan said.

With Marvel off to a hot start it's hard to see where there's room for improvement in his manager's eyes and that improvement should come with experience as well as via his preparation and commitment to each outing.

"I think he needs to get better with knowing situations. When to go for a strikeout, when to go for the ground ball, I think he gets a little bit in between on those situations,"Ryan said. "He's got a three pitch or less attack mindset. He has the ability to do that very well and sometimes he gets in trouble by trying to set hitters up throwing two pitches to get the one groundball."

Situational baseball will come for Marvel has he gains valuable experience at the Double-A level this season, but for Marvel his focus for improvement is rather simple.

"Finishing my outings, getting through innings minimizing damage," Marvel said. "I pride myself on being a starting pitcher who can get deep into the game."

If Marvel can continuously keep finishing outings like he did against the Flying Squirrels on Saturday, his successful start should continue and he could find himself on the road to Indianapolis sooner rather than later if he keeps at the pace he's going.

CURVE'S TOP HITTERS

The Curve offense has struggled over the last week but Jared Oliva has been solid since returning from the IL last week:

Jared Oliva, OF - 6-for-23 (.261) with two doubles, two walks and an RBI.

CURVE'S TOP PITCHERS

Top starting performance: Pedro Vasquez at Richmond on April 20: 6.0 innings pitched, one hit allowed, one walks and five strikeouts. Vasquez is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA on the season allowing three earned runs, and striking out a total of 11 hitters thus far and walking only two.

Top reliever: Beau Sulser. Sulser appeared in two games last week, recording a win and did not allow a run or hit in either outing. He pitched three innings in relief and recorded three strikeouts and two walks. The righty is 2-0 on the season and has appeared in five games thus far.

THE ROSTER MOVES/INJURY UPDATE

Here are the roster moves over the last week:

4/15: OF Jared Oliva activated from the seven-day injured list. OF Ryan Peurifoy assigned to extended spring training. 

4/18: INF Robbie Glendinning assigned to A-Adv. Bradenton. INF Alfredo Reyes assigned to Altoona.

4/20: INF Alfredo Reyes promoted from Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis. OF Beau Sulser assigned to Altoona.

4/22: RHP Angel Herman assigned to extended spring training. LHP Blake Weiman assigned to Altoona.

THE RESULTS/SCHEDULE

Altoona returned to the win column in a big way with two wins against Richmond on Saturday following a losing skid that had reached six games.

Starting pitching led the Curve to a double header sweep of the Flying Squirrels heading into an off-day for Easter. Marvel threw all seven innings in game-one giving up a hit while striking out two on the night. Pedro Vasquez threw six innings of one-hit baseball and struck out five in the second game before Beau Sulser and Matt Eckelman shut the door in the final two innings.

Altoona continues their road trip with a three-game swing through Harrisburg before returning home to take on Richmond Friday evening. The Curve currently sit at 8-9 on the season after falling 1-0 to the Senators Monday evening.

ALTOONA FUN THING

With the promotion of Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds over the weekend, the two became the 161st and 162nd former Curve players to play in the Major Leagues during the 21-year history of the Altoona franchise.

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