MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Boomer Potts already has learned a lot about pitching in just two weeks in Double-A baseball.
"My first couple of outings were a little rough and had to get used to a different way of pitching," the Wyandotte product said by phone Friday.
He’s a left-handed relief pitcher with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Eastern League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I have finally settled down a little bit and should be OK from here on out," Potts said.
Potts joined the Fisher Cats on May 25 from the Blue Jays’ Advanced-A team in Dunedin, Fla.
Heading into Friday’s game against the Altoona (Pa.) Curve, he was 1-1 with a 6.75 earned run average in six appearances. He’s struck out 15 and walked one, but has been touched for two home runs.
Potts has worked 10 innings, allowing 11 hits and seven runs, six earned. He allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings of the Fisher Cats’ 12-7 loss at Reading, Pa., Thursday afternoon.
"In high A in Florida, you could get away with a number of mistakes," Potts said. "They aren’t going to get hit as bad. The other night I threw two fastballs inside and I left them up and they hit a home run.
"At Dunedin, most of the time you could get away with that or they will ground out somewhere."
“After his first two outings, we talked about what it will take for him to register outs at this level with his repertoire,” Fisher Cats pitching coach Tom Signore said. “As a result, he has moved his fast ball around the strike zone, and has been able to use his secondary stuff to put hitters away.”
He was virtually untouchable in 16 appearances at Dunedin, posting a 0.49 ERA in 21 innings.
While at Dunedin, he got batters to hit a grounder on 58.9 percent of balls in play.
He faced 78 batters while with the Blue Jays, walking just seven with 19 strikeouts. Potts limited Florida State League batters to a .203 batting average.
"I had a very successful month and a half there," Potts said. "I try to keep it down as much as possible. There’s much less room for error when you throw the ball down around the knees. My breaking stuff induces a lot of ground balls."
He split last season with Dunedin and the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League.
He worked a combined 66 1/3 innings in 45 relief appearances. Potts went 4-1 and had a 3.80 ERA.
Getting used to the rigors of professional baseball has taken some getting used to, Potts said.
“When I was playing college ball, we played 60 games a season and then I played summer ball, so that gets you ready for it,” he said. “My first season in short-season A ball (with Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League) when I was drafted was an eye-opening experience with all the games we were playing. The first season was a little rough at times, but I have fallen into a pattern now. I am used to it.”
Potts and the Fisher Cats got home early Friday morning after taking two of three from Reading.
They’re home for three games this weekend with Altoona, but it’s back on the road starting Monday with a six-game swing that includes stops at Akron, Ohio, and Erie, Pa.
“You get used to it (the long bus rides),” Potts said. “We’ve got a 15-hour trip (to Akron) coming up. That’s never fun, but we play cards, listen to music and talk with the guys.”
Despite Thursday’s loss, the Fisher Cats (34-21) lead the Eastern League’s Eastern Division by two games over Trenton.
A 2004 graduate of Wyandotte High School, Potts earned all-Lucky 7 Conference honors as a junior and senior.
“He was a late bloomer,” said WHS superintendent Troy Gray, who was Potts’ coach. “He overcame a lot of adversity. Boomer has done a great job. He never gave up.”
Potts was 10-6 as a senior, posting a 1.44 ERA in 82 2/3 innings. He struck out 131 while walking 50.
“Coach Gray introduced me to the curveball, which has been my favorite, and generally most successful, pitch,” Potts said. “He worked with me as a sophomore on pitching the curveball a great deal until I finally got the hang of it. He stuck with me, leaving me out there on the mound after I would walk the bases loaded, knowing I would get out of the jam I was in.
“I will always appreciate the help and support that he and Coach Ross (former WHS assistant Chad Ross) would give me.”
Potts played two years at Neosho County (Kan.) Community College then wound up at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.
“I learned a lot in junior college as far as the head part of it, the mental part,” Potts said. “Then I went to Central Missouri and learned a lot about the mechanics. They fine tuned a lot of that.”
Once he got to pro ball, his coaches tweaked a couple of little things “then they turned me loose.”