Gus Schlosser pitches in a game last season with the Class AA Mississippi Braves. (Photo: Mississippi Braves)
Admittedly, Gus Schlosser does things a bit differently.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, the right-handed pitcher doesn’t attack batters with power. He tried throwing the “normal” way and once he reached college baseball the results suffered.
“I just wasn’t getting anybody out,” the 25-year-old said of his early college years at Florida Southern.
So Schlosser tried throwing with a sidearm motion and dipping down in his delivery allowed a similar reaction of his ERA.
“For me it worked out, I started throwing harder and started doing better,” Schlosser said. “It became kind of natural.”
Once he started, Schlosser thought back to his first pitching lessons from his father and the constant coaching to keep his arm up as he threw.
“It was natural for me to be lower,” Schlosser said. “It worked out better than I would have thought.”
In 2010, Schlosser had the highest ERA of any pitcher on the Florida Southern staff at 4.20. By the end of 2011 that number dipped down to 2.90, the lowest in the Mocs rotation. The Braves drafted him following that season in the 17th round and he began a steady climb through the organization. Each year, Schlosser took strides. He made 27 starts in 2012 with high Class A Lynchburg and started 25 games last season in Class AA Mississippi, earning pitcher of the year honors in both stops. The jump from A to AA meant a dip in his ERA, dropping nearly a point from 3.38 to 2.39 as he stepped up a level in competition.
Because of his alternative throwing motion, Schlosser’s goal is to coax as many ground balls out of hitters as he can with his sinker and slider. He also shoots to out-think each batter, or at least have a plan about attacking each one and Schlosser takes his planning to an extreme.
“I prepared when I was in high-A pretty good, but not near to the point in double-A where three or four hours before a game I watched film, looked at the lineup, the day before I write notes while charting,” said Schlosser. “I really prepared myself. That eventually helped me. As the season went on I think I got better and better and better. I felt very prepared to start, I never felt like, ‘I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know who this guy is.’ I was always prepared.”
Starters typically chart pitches on off days, but not all take notes on the hitters while sitting in the stands with the radar gun. As he saw the same hitters over and over as the season drug out, Schlosser watched for changes in their approaches, embracing the mental ferocity of starting pitchers.
“You know exactly what a guy’s plan is,” Schlosser said. “He can change that, obviously, but then you adjust.”
Though he’s always started, Schlosser’s preparation may pay off with a big-league chance at least early this season. A non-roster invitee to the big league camp for the second year, Schlosser had a 1.93 ERA after his first 9 1/3 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts.
And it’s the preparation that put Schlosser in the spot to succeed. He spent his offseason resting and then strengthening his body and arm. He forced himself to be patient with his throwing program and quieted his mind for a few days.
“By the end of the season you are mentally fried and everybody usually is,” Schlosser said. “It takes a week or so to finally relax. I was waking up ready to go everyday even though I was home. It’s just mentally tiring.”
But that’s all part of the work for Schlosser, whose next step on his natural rung is the Gwinnett Braves, even as he eyes brighter lights and biggest challenges.
“They tell us, especially in the big leagues, they have shown us a couple of examples. There are scouting reports on everybody, there is video on everything you do,” Schlosser said. “You really have to know that I am adjusting, so are they. They always call it a big chess game and it really is. Last year helped me realize that I need to adjust, see that they are adjusting to me, and constantly working at it. Everybody is talented. Who is going to be able to make the adjustments once you are up there.”