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Minor league report: Late-round pick Sadler turns into All-Star

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Courtesy Mark Olson
Altoona Curve righthander Casey Sadler throws a pitch.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
 

Altoona Curve right-hander Casey Sadler had more on the ball in the classroom at Ripley (Okla.) High School than on the field. He was an excellent student, and so what if he was one of just 30 in his graduating class? A valedictorian still has to be pretty smart.

But as a pitcher, Sadler carried just 165 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame and generated little heat for his fastball. Only two junior colleges were interested. Both wanted him to walk on.

“I didn't throw very hard,” he said. “I didn't have the flashy stuff they look for.”

He still doesn't. Stan Kyles, the Curve's first-year pitching coach, called Sadler “methodical,” meaning it as a compliment. Last week Sadler was named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star team along with his more celebrated and harder-throwing teammate, right-hander Jameson Taillon, and second baseman Jarek Cunningham.

Sadler and his wife, Marin, will be at the game Wednesday in New Britain, Conn., but he won't play. He is on the disabled list with a bruised right knee after being struck by the first batter he faced June 30.

“It was a line drive, and I had nowhere to go,” he said. “I guess if it was a better pitch I wouldn't have gotten hit.”

The mistake was uncharacteristic. Sadler is 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA, tied for the league lead in starts (17) and tied for second in wins. He ranks eighth in innings (96) and is tied for ninth in WHIP (1.20).

Now a more robust 6-4, 200 pounds, Sadler has developed a sinking fastball in the 90-93 mph range. His changeup and slider are improving.

“If you don't have the big fastball that's sexy nowadays, you have to be able to get ball on the ground, and this kid does it at a real good rate,” Kyles said.

Drafted in the 25th round out of Western Oklahoma State Junior College in 2010, Sadler, 22, had to learn the finer points. His role models were Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, future Hall of Famers who embodied the art of pitching.

“They were one step ahead of everyone,” Sadler said.

“His work ethic is great, he has a lot of confidence in his ability, and he knows how to pitch,” Kyles said of Sadler, who started out in the minors as a reliever before making the transition in 2011.

“It's been great,” Sadler said. “I like it a lot better than the bullpen. It's two different animals. Starting definitely has its advantages. You get to prepare. You know you're going out every fifth or sixth day. For me, the big thing was getting the opportunity to work on stuff between outings. When you're in the bullpen you have to figure things out on the fly. Being a starter gives you the chance to iron things out.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

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