KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Joe Musgrove isn't one to nibble or work the corners. He'd rather throw his best stuff, which has a lot of movement, over the plate and have some faith opposing hitters are going to hit the ball on the ground.
Musgrove walked only eight batters last year in 100 2/3 innings in the Minor Leagues, while striking out 99. In short, the 6-foot-5 right-hander dominated at three levels last year with a staggering strikeout-to-walk ratio that has him knocking on the door of the big leagues.
The Astros' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015, Musgrove went a combined 12-1 with a 1.88 ERA, while playing at Class A Quad Cities, Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi.
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"I trusted myself and trusted in the stuff I had and the coaching staff gave me enough freedom to kind of go out there and do what I do," he said. "I think that was the biggest thing. I challenged guys, and I tried to put the ball in the zone and throw a lot of strikes and make them put the ball in play."
Musgrove is likely to begin the season in the rotation at Triple-A Fresno, putting him in line to lead the next wave of young arms to come through Houston.
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Even playing baseball as a kid, Musgrove said he was blessed with great control. He was always told to take your chances in the zone. And now at 23 years old, he's matured and admits he's taking his career more seriously, too.
"If you look at my stats in years past, you'll be able to see I came in at 18 and didn't really know what I was doing. And over the past couple of years I figured things out and matured a little bit," he said. "I put a little more concentrated work into my offseason program and stuck with the same stuff that's been working for me. I wouldn't say I changed anything. I just had a little bit more focus this offseason and a little bit more dedication."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.