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Shane Sawczak: Marlin on the Rise

Shane Sawczak should start the 2018 season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

For the 2016-17 offseason, we counted down the Top 100 all-time Marlins. This offseason, we will instead cast our eyes ahead. I’ll be outlining the Top 100 Marlins prospects, as chosen by you on the ranker.com listing.

Today, we’ll get a look at left-hander Shane Sawczak. Born on November 20th, 1995, he’s a 6’, 188 lb. pitcher from Lake Worth, FL. The Marlins chose him in the 19th round of the 2016 draft, out of Palm Beach State. I caught up with Shane for a few questions.

Kevin: You seem to have zeroed into the strike zone more and more through your development. This season, you registered a 9.8 K/9 while holding batters to a .224 average. Do you see your role as a mid-inning setup man evolving into more of a stopper role?

Shane: This year I’ve changed up some mechanical issues just to minimize some extra movement that wasn’t needed and with that I noticed my fastball was more live and it jumped on the hitters faster. I had some control issues this year but that just comes along with the process of it all. I feel like I will be a mid-inning setup man only because I can hold runners very well and I attack the zone. There was also some talk that I will be a left-on-left specialist when I get into the higher levels. I just need to dominate my secondary pitches.

Kevin: Your splits suggest you’re nearly as effective against right handers. I was getting a charge out of your back-to-back two hitless relief innings near the end of August - so was thinking you’d probably be good in either of those roles.

You grew up in South Florida, then attended college locally and eventually got drafted by the local team. How do you prepare for playing the season so far from home in Batavia, and this coming year, hopefully in Greensboro?

Shane: Well, I got really fortunate by getting drafted from a local team. Spring training is about 20 minutes from my house. So during spring training and extended I was allowed to stay at home which gave me the advantage to eat healthier, train and prepare correctly. I’m very lucky to be able to see my family and friends on a regular basis. It makes the professional process relaxing and really fun. I look forward to it every year. I get into a routine and it helps me get through the day of training and practice.

Kevin: I never thought of that. You’re less reliant on fast food due to having your kitchen so close.

Were there coaches or others at different levels who were particularly influential in your development?

Shane: In extended I had changed up some of my pitching mechanics and our pitching coordinator had showed me one-on-one and really explained it. It took me a couple weeks to finally figure it out. When I got to Batavia, Jason Erickson was a big help and he stuck by me and always gave me tips and we watched video of my previous outing.

Kevin: Ok, now for the hard questions. What’s your favorite movie?

Shane: Fast and Furious series.

Kevin: I liked 1, 2, and 7 the best.

I’m watching Kershaw square off with Keuchel right now. Which pitcher do you most try to pattern your game after?

Shane: Kershaw is definitely my favorite pitcher but I see myself more like Kuechel only because he’s not a big velo guy. He sits 88-89 and just paints the corners. He gets soft contact. He gives us lefties that don’t throw 94+ some faith.

Kevin: No doubt. It seems that teams who are less reliant on the fastball get further into the season. Keeping hitters off balance is more important that blowing them away.

If you could share a meal with one person throughout history, who would it be?

Shane: I think Jimmy Buffet would be cool. I’m a big beach/island guy. All he does is spend time on an island or on a sandbar. He’s living the life.

Kevin: So you're a Parrothead?

Shane: I grew up with Jimmy Buffet or Kenny Chesney on the radio. Love the country/beach scene. It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere!

Shane went 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA for the Muckdogs in 2016, with 26 whiffs in 32 23 innings. He also held batters to a .213 average and racked up a 1.10 WHIP as a rookie. Last season, he posted a 3-1 record with a 3.25 ERA, a 1.55 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts in 27 23 innings. Although he walked 21 batters, 13 of them were in four games.

On August 27th last season Sawczak pitched two perfect innings, with one strikeout and earned the win in a 3-2, 14-inning victory against the Auburn Doubledays. In his next appearance four days later, He struck out two in two more perfect relief innings, but the Dogs lost, 2-1 to the Williamsport Crosscutters. A few more stretches like that should see Sawczak rising the ranks from Greensboro up to Jupiter.

Thanks for reading. We’d like to thank Shane for stopping by and talking with us a little. Check back tomorrow for a look at James Buckelew.