April 30th, 2014

Lotzkar hopes to re-establish himself with RoughRiders

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The Texas Rangers are willing to do whatever it takes to win. It’s clear that the organization has put emphasis on turning over every rock to find talent capable of propelling the club to higher levels, and that comes with having a certain attitude. This “low-risk and high-reward” mindset is responsible for finding players who are motivated to win and are ready to prove doubters wrong. One of those players is right-handed pitcher Kyle Lotzkar.

Lotzkar, 24, was selected by the Reds in the supplemental first round (53rd overall) in the June 2007 first-year player draft. He was rated as the 13th-best prospect in the Gulf Coast League and in 2008 he was rated by Baseball America as the sixth-best prospect in the Reds organization. The 2009 season delivered bad luck for the six-foot, five-inch Delta, British Columbia native, as he missed the entire campaign with a stress fracture in his pitching elbow. He rebounded in 2010 by combining to finish 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in ten starts and two relief appearances in the Rookie Arizona League and at Billings, holding his opponents to a .182 average. Injuries again plagued Lotzkar as he found himself back on the disabled list in 2011 and 2012.

Through everything, he says it’s been wonderful to be welcomed into the Rangers’ organization and that a fresh start has been key for his return to success. On moving on to this new opportunity Lotzkar says, “I have no bad things to say about the Reds. They gave me plenty of opportunities to make it to the big leagues. They drafted me and put me on the 40-man roster, sent me to big league camp two times…I just couldn’t stay healthy. I think a fresh start was a big part of it and I get along with a lot of the staff and the players here as well, it’s been a refreshing change.”

Lotzkar credits changing his routine and delivery for his return to health and hopes to keep a positive trend going as he continues his road to the majors.  “I haven’t felt this healthy in a long time. They asked me about what my program was and about if I had a routine, we went over the strength stuff and the rehab stuff, and they added some things to the routine. I had to change the way I threw, specifically my arm action, and in the offseason I do a lot of drills to correct that.”

The righty also knows that pure velocity isn’t enough to get by in the major leagues and hinted that throwing more correctly located two-seam fastballs can add to his success. “I went to the Futures Game in 2012 and everyone there was throwing 100. I realized all those guys were throwing 100 but they were throwing straight,” Lotzkar said. “At the end of the day, the elite level hitters can time rocket ships.  They’ll time anything so you need to have something that’s going to miss the barrel a little bit.”

These are the adjustments that Lotzkar is making to regain the control he seeks and that can ultimately put his career back on track. The Rangers understand his potential and have invested in that, with the hope that they can restore the luster on this onetime can’t-miss prospect.

-Cameron Varnau

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