By Jonathan Chan
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Despite being an 18-year old that can touch 96 mph with his fastball, Toronto Blue Jays prospect Adam Kloffenstein wants to be known for his control and precision, not a reading on the radar gun.
Kloffenstein takes pride in the command of his arsenal and makes it a priority to mix and match the speed and break of his pitches to throw hitters off-balance.
The towering six-foot-six right-hander credits the approach to his father, John, who instilled that mindset at a young age.
“That’s kind of always been my mentality and one of the biggest things that contributes to the pitcher I am today at such a young age, that I can mix and match and change speeds,” Kloffenstein said, during an interview at Bobby Mattick Training Centre, on Thursday. “It’s never been to try to strike guys out.”
The Houston-native was named 2018 high school player of the year by his local paper after posting an 11-1 record with 113 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 78 innings with Magnolia High School. The eye-popping numbers may be a surprise to some, but Magnolia baseball coach Taylor Shiflett credits Kloffenstein’s confidence and ability to mix pitches for his success.
“He’s a confident kid and he knows his abilities. I let him call his own pitches, I let him throw whatever he wanted to throw, whenever he wanted to throw it.” Shiflett said in an interview last week. “You wouldn’t think a guy that throws 94 (mph) would throw a lot of changeups, but it was one of his better pitches.
“If he’s around the zone he gets a lot of kids to swing at it.”
Kloffenstein could have coasted on his natural physical abilities, but according to David Evans, his pitching coach since he was 13, the youngster’s work-ethic and dedication are what shaped him into one of the Blue Jays’ most promising young arms.
“Then it just started where he got really hungry. He would come in at 5:30 in the morning, and train before school,” said Evans, who has worked with over 50 major-league prospects in his career. “He’s constantly challenging himself to have the pitch go where he wants it to go have it break how he wants it to break.”
As for his future prospects, the third-round pick knows that he will need to hone his craft and continue to develop as a pitcher before he makes it to the Major League roster.
“I’ve never thought about ‘I’m going to throw the ball really hard and he’s going to whiff.’ It’s always been ‘I want to make this guy look dumb.’ I want him to freeze because he thought something else was coming. That’s what gets you to the big leagues.”