Auburn Again Helping To Arm Turks

Posted: June 7, 2012
Daily News Record
Sports Department
By MARK SELIG

Duo Helps Make Pitching A Strong Point


HARRISONBURG — Trey Cochran-Gill doesn’t seem too caught up on numbers. After a driving-range session at Heritage Oaks this week, the Harrisonburg Turks pitcher was asked how far he can yank a golf ball. He didn’t know. Later he was asked how fast he throws a baseball, and again, no definitive answer.

“I can get it up a little bit,” Cochran-Gill said, before calling on teammate Dillon Ortman for help. “What do you think?”
Ortman, another Turks pitcher and a numbers enthusiast, estimated high 80s to low 90s — in miles per hour — for Cochran-Gill’s fastball. Ortman’s is even a touch faster.
Whether they’re keeping track or not, the two young Auburn University pitchers plan on posting stellar stats this summer for the Valley Baseball League’s Turks. They’ve gotten off to a good start.
Ortman struck out four batters in two perfect innings of relief Friday and then earned the win as a starter on Tuesday, striking out six and allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings.
Cochran-Gill didn’t allow a hit or a walk in his first five innings as a starter Saturday (he ran into trouble in the sixth inning, when he gave up two runs).
“I was locating fastballs pretty good, slider was on for the most part, first few innings,” Cochran-Gill said of his solid opening performance, in which he got a no-decision in a Turks win. “Last inning kind of got away from me.”
The Turks (3-1 going into Wednesday night’s game) will rely heavily on their Auburn arms this summer. Pitching, manager Bob Wease believes, is the strength of his ballclub.
“I think we’ve got more of a pitching team than anything,” Wease said.
The Turks have had good luck with Auburn players, plucking them for the past decade.
Link Jarrett, Auburn’s director of player development, played for Wease on the Turks and annually sends Tigers to Harrisonburg for summer seasoning. Last year, leadoff hitter Jay Gonzalez, an outfielder, and catcher Blake Austin came from Auburn to fortify Harrisonburg’s lineup. Jarrett keeps sending players to Wease because he believes it provides the young guys an invaluable experience.
“Any time you can go and compete in a good league on a good team, it helps their development,” Jarrett said Monday night while watching the MLB First-Year Player Draft on television. “Those guys being away from home with different teammates, different coaches, different towns, I think you grow up a bit.”
When they aren’t busy striking out opposing batters, the two southerners said they look forward to fishing in their spare time this summer.
“I’m  a catch-and-release guy,” Ortman said. “Unless I catch a big one.”
At Auburn, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Ortman went 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 25 1/3 innings this spring as a sophomore. As sort of a utility pitcher, he made one start and 17 relief appearances, and he hopes to use this summer to see if he can build the stamina and consistency of a starting pitcher.
From Hunstville, Ala., Ortman is a business finance major who hopes to one day get involved with business analytics for a major league team, citing the book/movie “Moneyball” as an impetus for teams to devour more and more statistics. His favorite newish stat, he said, is WHIP – walks plus hits per inning pitched.
Last college season, his WHIP registered at 1.34. Ortman said he’s targeting a WHIP at or near 1.00. Cochran-Gill, meanwhile, is an exercise science major who hopes to become a physical therapist or trainer. He was a multi-threat quarterback and safety for his high school football team in Tallassee, Ala., but stuck with baseball in college.
“Size, I guess,” the 5-11, 168-pounder said when asked why he chose baseball over football.
He enjoyed a productive rookie season at Auburn, going 5-2 with a 3.67 ERA and 22 strikeouts compared to 10 walks in 34 1/3 innings pitched. Featuring a hard sinking fastball, Cochran-Gill has pro potential, his coaches say – not that he knows it. He shrugged his shoulders, almost in confusion when asked about his prospects.
“Some kids grow up always looking at pro ball as to how am I going to get drafted, who’s going to draft me, how do I get noticed in the draft?” Jarrett said. “[Cochran-Gill and Ortman are] looking at how to help a team win. Sometimes, in the long run, that might be more productive than trying to get to the pros.”

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