Max Scherzer considers himself a new man, and not just because he is a new Diamondback.
Scherzer spent his time before signing with the D-Backs refining his secondary pitches, and believes he has the repertoire to complement his fastball, which touched 98 mph during his time with the independent Fort Worth Cats.
Fort Worth coach Stan Hilton helped tighten his slider, Scherzer said, so that it now touches the high 80s.
While working out at Missouri, Scherzer said the hitters’ familiarity also forced him to come up with a better change-up.
“It’s a pitch that looks very similar to my four-seam fastball, which is my bread and butter,” he said. “Even though I wasn’t in the minor leagues, I was getting better every day.”
While Scherzer was at Fort Worth, teammate Chadd Blasko signed with the Baltimore organization, and his scouting report was encouraging.
“I asked him what the competition was like from the independent leagues to the minor leagues, and he said it’s very similar,” said Scherzer, who is to report to Class A Visalia this week.
“I got to face the wood bats and see what that’s like. I think the time in Fort Worth has helped me to get ready to go into the minor leagues.”
• Tucson (AAA, Pacific Coast) – Yusmeiro Petit and Dustin Nippert were the starters when the Sidewinders had back-to-back shutouts in Memphis on Monday and Tuesday, their first consecutive shutouts since July 27-28, 2005. Chad Harville, who saved the second game, converted 14 of his first 15 save opportunities and also singled in a run Friday.
• Mobile (AA, Southern) – Justin Upton hit .382 with seven doubles, seven homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.293 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in his first 18 games. Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, considered the fastest player in the organization, has 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts.
• Visalia (A, California) – Righthander Dallas Buck, a 2006 thirdround draftee who eschewed right elbow surgery in the offseason after suffering from “dead arm” at Oregon State, was 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA and tied for third in the league with 58 strikeouts in 64 innings.
• South Bend (A, Midwest) – Former ASU right-hander Tony Barnette improved to 4-3 and dropped his ERA to 2.66 with a victory Wednesday. He was second in the league with 67 2-3 innings and had 47 strikeouts against only eight walks.