Scouting Report: Vance Worley

It’s all about the slider for pitcher Vance Worley. The 22 year-old
right-hander made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night with the Lehigh Valley
IronPigs and put together an impressive debut. Worley came out and immediately
started to make Durham hitters look a little rough with his slider. Worley was
setting up the pitch well, with low-to-mid 90s fastballs on the inner half of
the plate and would then run his slider down and away to right-handed hitters,
picking up three of his first four strikeouts in the game on the pitch. Worley’s
slider was coming in eight to ten miles per hour slower than his fastball and
had strong movement. With four strikeouts through the first two innings, Durham
hitters started to lay off the slider a little more, but Worley was able to
throw the pitch for strikes and recorded a called strikeout on second baseman
Joe Dillon.

For IronPigs manager Dave Huppert, while Worley’s slider was good, it wasn’t
the most impressive thing that he saw from the young starter. "The way he
located his fastball," was what Huppert deemed the most impressive part of
Worley’s start, but he admitted that the slider was effective. "He had a
pretty good breaking ball tonight, that had good bite." The slider is a
pitch that Worley has worked on over the past couple of seasons and has changed
his grip on a few times before settling on how he’s throwing the pitch now.
"That pitch has come a long way for me this year. Last year, we changed the
grip on it a few times and this seems to be the one that’s working for me, so
I’m sticking with it," said Worley

Of the 18 outs recorded by Worley, seven were on strikeouts, ten on
groundballs and only one – the last out of his final inning – on a flyball. The
flyball was well hit to right field, but Domonic Brown was able to make the
catch with his back up against the fence for the final out in the sixth.

Worley left the scoreless game after six innings, but might have had a chance
for a win, had the IronPigs Neil Sellers not been thrown out on a play at the
plate in the third inning. He also might have had a chance to go another inning
if not for a couple of good at-bats by Durham hitters who fouled off a number of
pitchers, costing Worley 19 pitches to retire two batters. "They were doing
a good job of fouling everything off," admitted Worley. "I went in,
out, up, down and they did a good job of just fouling everything off. In the
end, I got ’em, but I would have liked to do it a little bit quicker."

While Worley’s overall outing was impressive, if there was one down note, it
was that of the 23 batters that he faced, he was only able to throw first-pitch
strikes to ten of them, which is unusual for Worley, who generally pitches ahead
of hitters. "It happens," laughed Worley. "When you get that
first pitch strike, it’s a lot easier. If you throw a ball, it makes it easier
for them and they get to see an extra pitch. If you get behind in the count, you
generally get hurt in the end." For Worley, getting first pitch strikes
wasn’t the only battle that he fought; Worley was having trouble with both his
curve and change-up, forcing him to rely on his fastball and slider. When you
consider all of the things going wrong for Worley, his outing was especially

"The slider definitely helped me out, because I was running four-seem
and two-seem fastballs in there and then the slider was basically my
out-pitch," explained Worley.

Worley faced a pretty high-powered offense in the Durham Bulls, who came into
the game ranked second in the International League in hitting. "He threw
excellent tonight. Very good location on the fastball, mixed in enough breaking
stuff, and did a great job here against a great ball club," said Huppert.
Of course, having thrown an inning in the majors before even reaching Triple-A
might have taken away some of the jitters for Worley.

Of his trip to the Phillies, Worley’s route was a little confusing, at least
for him. Worley was with the Reading Phillies, who were playing in Erie and when
the team bus arrived back at the hotel after the game, Worley was told to stay
on the bus, because manager Steve Roadcap wanted to see him back at the ball
park. Not having a clue what was going on, Worley just thought he had screwed
something up keeping the pitching charts during the game. Once he met with
Roadcap, he found out that he wasn’t in any trouble at all. Once he met up with
the Phillies in St. Louis, Worley was able to throw off the bullpen mound Friday
night and got a little exposure warming up in a major league bullpen in front of
a big crowd. The next day, Worley was told to stay ready because he may be
pitching in the game. Jose Contreras went out to pitch the eighth and Worley was
told that the ninth inning was his. The bullpen attendant who opened the bullpen
gate for Worley had good wishes and advice for the newest Phillie. "’The
mound is straight over there about 140 feet’, he told me. I was like okay, that
helps," laughed Worley.

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