Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 1, 2008

BASEBALL: NT's Brooks still trying to find niche

(Continued)



Rick Books, Ricky’s father, has seen first-hand the talent in Class A Advanced.

“These kids are all great baseball players. I don’t care what level they’re at, but they all have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s your job as a professional to figure out what they are,” Rick Brooks said. “It’s a learning game.”

Last season, Ricky Brooks began the year with the Class A Kannapolis Intimidators, but was called up to the Class A Advanced Winston Salem Warthogs, where he found a niche as a reliever.

As a starter with the Intimidators in 2006, he posted a record of 8-11 with a 5.78 ERA, and led his team in wins and games started.

Brooks pitched 25 2/3 innings and 1.93 ERA in 15 games with the Warthogs in 2007 from the bullpen and wanted to build on his 2007 success this season.

Unfortunately for Brooks an injury to the pitching staff forced him to become a starting pitcher for a couple of starts, but he is back in the bullpen now.

“I used to be a starter in college, but my two starts haven’t gone that well,” he said. “I played real well in Class A Advanced at the end of the season (2007) and expected to do well this year, but it’s still early.”

In his two starts he is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in eight innings pitched. In two relief appearances this season Brooks has allowed just four hits in three innings, and hasn’t allowed a run.

The difference between his struggles as a starter and his success as a reliever is his concentration level on the mound, he said.

“I’ve had coach talk to me about this. I will forget about my game plan when I’m starting,” Brooks said. “Out of the bullpen you’re only throwing one or two innings, and I’ll come out of the game not allowing any runs, and I’m happy with that.”

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