Small injuries can play a significant role in a pitcher’s performance on the mound and Brevard County’s Damien Magnifico was no exception after losing grip on a promising season.
Magnifico’s injury became a roadblock with the Brewers’ High A affiliate after earning a promotion from Single A Wisconsin where he produced a 5-1 record with a 3.83 ERA.
“The only thing I had wrong was that blister on my finger,” Magnifico said. “Right after I left for Florida is when I developed the blister. It happened after my third outing is when it popped back out.”
Magnifico, 22, pitched a scoreless inning against Clearwater July 10 allowing one hit and one walk before the injury recurred.
Despite his setback, the flamethrower from Texas remained positive regarding the 2014 season where he will continue to work on his off-speed pitches.
“The change-up and slider are getting better,” Magnifico said as he looks forward to his February 8 early report date for Spring Training at the Maryvale Complex in Arizona.
In addition, he demonstrated the ability to rebound from injury early in his junior college career in Big Spring, Tex.
“When I first got into junior college I only expected to be there a year and then get drafted again,” Magnifico said. “But after getting hurt and then came back the next year and only threw 21 innings.”
Magnifico became a highlight reel for the Oklahoma Sooners in an April 2012 game where he hit 100 miles per hour 22 times in 8.2 innings against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Razorbacks’ coach Dave Van Horn explained his thoughts to NewsOK.com following the game.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Van Horn said. “I looked up two or three pitches into the ninth inning, because I thought the ball was coming out of his hand pretty good, and the scoreboard said 101 (mph). You don’t see that anywhere.”
Major League scouts had Magnifico on the radar screen during his high school playing career when he was drafted by the New York Mets with the fifth round selection in 2009, but opted for further education.
Despite the attention given to him by scouts, the pitcher was seemingly focused on the moments in front of him including the day he was informed the Brewers drafted him with the fifth round selection in 2012.
“Actually while I was drafted I was at a restaurant with my girlfriend eating and then I received a text message saying I got drafted by the Brewers,” Magnifico said.
In addition, he indicated he was not fully aware of other Major League organizations interested in him during the scouting process.
“There was probably other teams but I was trying to let whatever happens, happens,” Magnifico said.
Big Apple at the core
While Magnifico was born and raised in Texas, he still claimed allegiance to where his family came from including the team he grew up watching, the New York Yankees.
“My whole family is from New York,” Magnifico said.
The Magnifico’s route to Texas was based on the family’s desire to remain close together including his Mother and Aunt.
“My mom was basically raised by her older sister and it is 15 year difference so she was raised by her,” Magnifico said. “I don’t know what brought my aunt down to Texas with my uncle.”
Magnifico also added the state’s cost of living and job opportunities led his family to Texas prior to 1991.
“My mom found a job and then within that week my dad found a job,” Magnifico said.
Crediting his fellow pitchers
While Magnifico continued to trudge through the season, he credited his relievers for making the best out of an injury-riddled Manatees starting rotation.
“The whole bullpen all stepped up and making spot starts,” Magnifico said. “Chad Pierce stepped up, Tyler Cravy started.”
Pierce, 26, capped off his 2013 season with a solid August 31 performance striking out eight and allowing one earned run to capture his sixth victory.
The Fond du Lac, Wis. native and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate was second on the Manatees to left-hander Brent Suter with 108.2 innings. He also walked just 54 batters throughout the season and had a 6-6 record with a 3.40 ERA.
Stephen Peterson was one of the relievers who helped Magnifico get out of his tough outings including the July 10 contest against Clearwater.
“While I was here his change-up vastly improved and had one of the highest percentage of fastball strikes,” Magnifico said. “All he does is throw strikes and get people out. That is all he needs to do and that is what he does.”
The left-handed Peterson picked up the win in the July 10 game striking out two batters in two scoreless innings.
“He is one of my good buddies and actually who I live with down in Florida,” Magnifico said. “He is a good guy.”
Magnifico had high regard for left-handed starter Brent Suter and team-leader with 124 innings pitched when Brewers Farm Report asked about his approach.
“Suter is crazy, he is a fun guy to be around,” Magnifico said. “He knows how to pitch and works all the corners of the plate, changes speeds. Whatever it is, he makes it work and gets people out.”