Armstrong ready for whatever role he gets
There are lots of new faces in Indians’ camp this year, one of which is right-handed pitcher Shawn Armstrong, a player the Indians selected in the 18th round of the 2011 Draft out of East Carolina University.
Armstrong, 21, is a good sized pitcher with a strong lower half and features a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a good cutter, and a developing curveball and changeup. With his stuff he has some potential as a starter or as a priority bullpen prospect. The role he will pitch in this year is still yet to be determined.
“I don’t really know what I am doing still,” Armstrong said this week. “I just want to take whatever role I get as I am fortunate enough to be in this organization and playing professional baseball. So whatever role I get I just want to take full advantage of it.”
As a draft eligible sophomore last year Armstrong signed right at the August 15th signing deadline for $335,000. Because he signed so late, the start of his pro career was delayed and he was only able to appear in one game with short season Single-A Mahoning Valley at the end of the season. To help make up for lost time the Indians sent him to the fall Instructional League out in Arizona from September to October and then later in the offseason to the Dominican Republic Instructional League for two weeks.
With the limited amount of work last year with just one appearance in a real game under his belt, this upcoming season will serve as his true professional debut.
“I am really happy to be an Indian and in this organization,” Armstrong said. “I was invited early to camp and I think [spring training] is going really well. Coming here in the fall to Instructs definitely helped a lot with getting to know everybody, and then going to the Dominican Republic helped as well.”
Armstrong relies on his fastball-cutter-curveball combination, but a pitch he is really trying to develop is a changeup. It is a pitch he did not throw much in college, but as a professional he will need it in order to have something in his arsenal to attack lefties. It may never be a plus pitch or even an average offering, but if he can find some consistency with it he will have something to use against left-handed hitters to give them a different look.
“I am working on my changeup as I have never really had one or needed it,” Armstrong said. “That is mainly what I am working on as my offspeed is very good, so I just want to develop another pitch in case I am a starter. [Developing my changeup] is more about arm slot and not really mechanics. It is all I worked on in the offseason and I feel it has gotten a lot better and I am confident in it now.”
Beyond the game of baseball, Armstrong is an avid hunter that likes to spend most of his free time deer hunting. The hunting helps provide a release for him to get away from baseball and off the cell phone and computer.
“In the offseason I like to hunt a lot and I like to golf – or at least try to golf,” Armstrong chuckled. “I also just like to enjoy my time with family and friends, and I like to take my sister out and hunt a bunch. I have a bunch of kids I give hunting lessons to, and my dad owns a lot of property so I just kind of go on his property and hunt.”
It remains to be seen what role Armstrong will pitch out of this season. Had it been known he would be a starting pitcher, then he would have been in the IPI 2012 Top 50 Prospect listing. But since his role is still unclear, and he more than likely will be in the bullpen, he just missed the Top 50. If he has a strong 2012 season and develops, he could push his way into a Top 50 slot and even higher.
“I want to pitch well and do well, and if I pitch well hopefully I will move,” Armstrong said. “There is not really a certain goal to get to a certain stage as the main goal is to get to the Major Leagues. Of course I want to finish higher than where I started, but I just want to have a good first year and stay healthy.”
Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his new book the 2012 Cleveland Indians Prospect Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.