Janesville's Foss relishes reliever role in minor leagues

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John Barry
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BELOIT--Making the transition from starting pitcher to reliever is tough.

Routines change. Pitching every fifth day can turn into every other. Pitch counts vary, and throwing out of the stretch is the norm and not the exception.

Trevor Foss has transitioned well.

The 2008 Janesville Craig graduate was drafted in the 22nd round by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft and is a relief pitcher for the Class A Burlington Bees of the Midwest League. Burlington is in Beloit for a three-game series that began Tuesday night.

The right-handed throwing Foss has a sparkling 2.82 ERA in 23 relief appearances and is averaging nearly one strikeout per inning. He was drafted as a starting pitcher out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“It has been a season of ups and downs for the most part,” Foss said. “I really struggled early on, but things have gone really well as of late. I'm getting more comfortable throwing out of the stretch all of the time, and the weather is finally nice. We played in some nasty stuff to start the season.

“My biggest concern heading into the season was my arm and how it would hold up now that I'm a reliever. But it has felt great all season, and I've been able to get up and throw every day, even if it's just soft toss or something.”

Foss' development has accelerated because of an additional four to five miles per hour on his fastball. He said his pitch was clocked anywhere between 89 or 90 mph in college but is now reaching 94 or 95. In his last appearance, he didn't throw a fastball below 91.

“My out pitch has always been my breaking ball, but now I've learned to throw an elevated fastball that gives me something else to throw with two strikes,” Foss said. “I'm not sure where the added velocity is coming from, but my guess is that it has something to do with the fact that my arm feels so good at this point of the season.”

One of the most impressive statistics Foss has compiled this season is his ability to get left-handed batters out. The righty/lefty matchup normally favors the batter, but Foss has allowed left-handers to bat only .239 against him. Right-handers are worse, at .209.

“That was something I struggled with in college,” Foss said of facing left-handers. “When I got to the minor leagues, I wanted to make it a wash as far as the percentages go, and I think I've done a pretty good job of doing that.

“One thing that has helped is the development of my changeup. It's a pitch that has been successful for me when I can locate it.”

The long bus rides, daily fast food meals and inclement weather often associated with minor league baseball are not wearing on Foss. He's enjoying the ride and not worrying about where he might play next season.

Burlington clinched a postseason berth by finishing second in the Western Division in the first half.

With a playoff berth secured, Foss said the team is focusing more on developmental skills and not as much on wins and losses.

“We still want to win every game, but showing up every day at the park and getting to hang out with a great group of guys and coaches gives us all a very easy feeling,” Foss said.

“The organization really likes our team and doesn't want to break it up. We're one of the few teams in the entire organization that is having success.”

Trevor Foss is a big part of that success.

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