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Hickman honing mound skills in summer league

BY ERIN ERICKSON | JULY 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa pitcher Blake Hickman is determined to make a name for himself on the mound for the Hawkeyes. Last season, he transitioned from primarily playing catcher into finding a permanent home on the mound.

During his sophomore campaign at Iowa, Hickman threw 34.1 innings and ended with a 3.93 ERA. While Hickman’s change had its rough spots, the Chicago native finished with solid numbers, leaving Iowa catcher Jimmy Frankos with a promising glimpse into his future. 

“When he started, he was more of a thrower; he could throw the ball and throw it hard, but he didn’t really know where it was going,” Frankos said. “Now, he is starting to develop his three pitches and is becoming one of our top pitchers. “

Frankos believes that losing Hickman’s bat is no comparison with what the team will gain with the hard throwing right-hander on the mound. 

“He is so big on the mound, he is such an intimidating figure, once Blake develops his three pitches, he’s not only going to be one of our team’s top pitchers but one of the top pitchers in the Big Ten,” Frankos said.

Taking no time off in the off-season, Hickman is suiting up for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, looking to develop that power in the Cape Cod League. As of this writing, Hickman is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 14.2 innings pitched. While the numbers aren’t flattering for Hickman, both he and his coach believe his arsenal is coming along.

“So far, I have been working to keep up my stamina on the mound to stay in the game longer,” Hickman said. “My biggest focus is developing command of my pitches, fastball, curve ball, and changeup.”

Hickman’s changeup will surely be a positive contrast to his commanding fastball. Although he hasn’t thrown the changeup much this summer, he continues to progress with pitching coach Jason Stowers daily with his mechanics.

Stowers believes that the Iowa pitcher is a diamond in the rough and has a very bright future ahead of him.

“Blake’s changeup is definitely better than what he expected, and he has been able to use it at times in the game,” Stowers said. “His progress has been pretty good, and I really like what he has been able to do.”

Throwing 94 mph on the mound should be a good start to catch any scout’s eye, but Stowers believes that combining Hickman’s competitiveness and drive with his uncanny athleticism are main factors that will propel him throughout his pitching career. 

“He is a rarity already,” Stowers said. “I believe that his arm strength, his athleticism, his size and competitiveness are going to leave a lot of people interested in giving him time in the minor leagues to continue to grow and work some things out. He is going to turn into a very good pitcher.”


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