CLEARWATER, FL — Colby Shreve is a winner on and off the field.
The native of Henderson, Nevada was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth round in June of 2008, despite having Tommy John surgery a month earlier.
It’s taken almost three years, but the big right-hander now feels himself again.
“Last year was the first year that I felt at least health wise back to where I was before I had the surgery,” he said, after his morning workout at the Phillies minor league complex.
“A lot of people think that you get the surgery and all of a sudden you have a new bionic arm, but it’s not case at all.”
He reflected on how difficult the mental side of rehabilitation can be.
“It’s kind of a depressing process going through rehab,” he said.
“You have huge ups and huge downs sometimes.
“Sometimes you feel like you can go out and pitch that day and sometimes you feel like you’ll never play baseball again.”
The 25-year-old appears poised for a big 2013 after pitching in three different levels last season, where he combined to post a 6-3 record, with a 3.69 ERA, while registering 64 strikeouts in 78 innings of work.
He finished the season with the Reading Phillies, Philadelphia’s double-A affiliate.
However, it did not come easily.
“I was a starter in 2010 and did pretty well in Lakewood and thought I was going to Clearwater right off the bat, but I was sent back to Lakewood [Blue Claws], [Phillies single-A affiliate] and I was just crushed,” he said.
He was eventually promoted to the Clearwater Threshers,
Philadelphia’s A+ affiliate where he ended his 2011 season, but frustration began to mount as he began 2012 once again in Lakewood and began to contemplated his future in baseball.
He credits Joe Jordon, direction of player development, for his turnaround.
“I was thinking of quitting for a couple of days, but
Joe sat me down and told me that if I continue doing what I’m doing [fix the tweak in my mechanics] for a couple of weeks, go to Clearwater and then anything can happen,” he said.
“I did what he wanted me to do, he got me out of Lakewood in two weeks and I went out to Clearwater and did pretty well for three or four weeks and then I was up at Reading.”
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Shreve fits the description of a prototypical power pitcher.
He throws five pitches: A fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, cutter, and change-up. His fastball has touched 96 mph on the radar gun.
When it is suggested that he could simply overpower batters with his blazing fastball, he quickly dismissed the notion.
“A lot of guys get in trouble thinking that, don’t get me wrong 94-96 mph is great, but guys even at single-A, guys in professional baseball know how to turn around on 95, 96,” he said.
He also explained the thought process of how to retire a batter.
“Setting up guys, we’re taught out of the bullpen to throw away because you never want to get beat inside late in the game, but you have to go in there sometimes just for effect because guys at double-A can hit 95 on the outside part of the plate no problem.”