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Judy ready for more opportunities in Cleveland

Judy ready for more opportunities in Cleveland
August 4, 2011
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Josh Judy (Photo: Lianna Holub)
The Indians have had over a half dozen players make their Major League debuts this year, and for the most part they have all performed well. Right-handed pitcher Alex White, second baseman Jason Kipnis, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, second baseman Cord Phelps, right-handed pitcher Zach McAllister, and outfielder Ezequiel Carrera have all made their debuts this season.

Another who made his debut - but has seen little time at the big league level - is Triple-A right-handed reliever Josh Judy. He has been up for two different short stints with the Indians, and has made just three appearances going 4.0 innings and allowed 3 hits, 1 run (1 earned), 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.

Judy, 25, is having another good season at Triple-A Columbus where in 37 appearances he is 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA, and in 40.1 innings has allowed 33 hits, 22 walks, and has 50 strikeouts. With another good season and a big league callup he can’t be any happier right now.

“The season is going well,” Judy said in a recent interview. “I’m just trying to go out there and do my job and get better every day.”

When Alex White got hurt early in a start against the Reds in late May, the bullpen was overworked and the Indians needed a short term bullpen option. That’s when Judy got that coveted first call to the bigs. It was a blur of frantic phone calls and packing before driving north late at night up the I-71 corridor to Cleveland.

“[The callup] was awesome,” Judy said. “It was everything you dreamed about when you were a little kid. I was actually across the street at a concert and Sarby called me at midnight to tell me I had to come back to the clubhouse to pack my bags. I thought I got traded at first, but he told me no as I was going up to Cleveland. So I drove up that night to Akron and stayed with my fiancé. The next day I was told that I would be in holding as they were not sure if they were going to put White on the DL or not. I didn’t get the call until 11:30 on Saturday morning whether to come to the clubhouse or not.”

Judy’s parents, grandparents, and close friends were able to get to Cleveland on short notice and see his big league debut that weekend.

“[My fiancé] Vivian was the first person I called, and then I called my mom and said you need to pack your bags and come to Cleveland,” Judy said. “I can’t imagine what was going through my dad’s head when he saw me coming across that field.”

Due to a commitment to be in a wedding Judy’s fiancé Vivian had to leave town for the weekend, so she missed his big league debut.

“Unfortunately, she wasn’t there that weekend,” Judy said. “I told her to go because she was going to her best friend’s wedding in Staten Island. I told her she already had it planned and it was kind of a coincidence I got called up. I had a feeling I would pitch on Monday, but they opened up the game against the Reds on Sunday so I got the opportunity then.”

With the first foray into the bigs now past him, Judy can now concentrate on doing what it takes to get up there and stay there. He along with right-hander Zach Putnam are big league ready options right now, and right-hander Chen-Chang Lee and left-hander Nick Hagadone are not far behind.

The biggest thing Judy has worked on this season is improving his arm slot as he was drifting to more of a sidearm slot early in the year which was flattening out his pitches and affecting his velocity. With the help of Columbus pitching coach Ruben Niebla he watched video of him from last year and this year and saw the noticeable drop in his slot, so they worked on bringing it back up and the results have been much more consistent and positive since.

“Yeah, [the arm slot] not only affected the offspeed pitch but also the fastball,” Judy said. “Early on in the season my velocity was down and everything was a little more flat than it is now. We have just been working everyday getting off the mound and staying on top of the ball. It is more just hand placement than arm slot, and I really think it will help in the long run.”

As a result of the subtle changes Judy’s fastball velocity has gone back up to where it usually is in the 91-94 MPH range.

“Everything has been pretty consistent and my velocity has jumped up one to two MPH,” Judy said. “My strike zone command has been a lot better and I am getting ahead with first pitch strikes.”

Judy was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, a sign that a player has value to the organization and that they are considered a potential big league option in the near future. While getting added to the 40-man roster is not the end-all-be-all, it is still a goal for all minor league players.

“It was a goal to get placed on the 40-man in my first opportunity,” Judy said. “I am thankful to the Indians that they see me in high regards to do that. I was in the Dominican [playing winter ball] when I got the news [last November] and I was on cloud nine then.”

With the season winding down - unless an injury occurs in Cleveland - Judy will probably stick around in Columbus until the end of August. With Columbus going for back-to-back championships he could be with them throughout the playoffs in September, though if the Indians need an arm in Cleveland when rosters expand September 1st he will surely be one of the first bullpen options added.

“Coming into this year I had high expectations of myself to go out and perform whether it is here or in Cleveland, but ultimately to finish in Cleveland,” Judy said. “I want to look back and say I did better than the year before and helped these guys win another championship here [in Columbus]."

Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his latest book the 2011 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More is available for purchase for $20.95 to customers in the US (shipping and handling extra).

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