Shawn Teufel trying to re-invent himself with Binghamton Mets
BINGHAMTON - Tim Teufel, the former New York Met, taught his son Shawn to persevere, and that value has helped the younger Teufel rejuvenate his career.
In 121 innings in Detroit's farm system last year, Teufel went 6-9 with a 6.62 ERA. He had spent three years in the minors and desperately needed to find an edge.
So during the offseason, the 26-year-old drastically altered his arm angle, dropping from three-quarters all the way to submarine.
"I just wanted to come back as a different look, different player, different pitcher," said the lefty who signed a minor-league deal with the Mets on March 26. "I had a so-so year last year, and I thought if I could do it, I should come out and try it and give it a chance."
So far that chance has paid dividends for Teufel, who has allowed four earned runs in 14.1 innings for Double-A Binghamton through Sunday.
Teufel's movement and deception have played key roles in the submariner's early success. He throws a fastball, sinker, slider and changeup, and has fooled hitters from both sides of the plate.
"Hitters don't take good swings at him," Binghamton Mets pitching coach Glenn Abbott said.
Sometimes that's because the ball isn't near the strike zone. Teuful has 16 strikeouts so far this season, but also 11 walks.
B"He's just got to get to where he's repeating that delivery because he's got a brand new one that he's never done before," Abbott said.
Because the new delivery has essentially made Teufel a new pitcher, Abbott said he has trouble projecting the southpaw's ceiling. But both Abbott and Teufel referenced R.A. Dickey, who developed a knuckleball in his 30s to revitalize his career and win the 2012 National League Cy Young award, as hope for a call-up to the big leagues.
"I'm not saying [Teufel's] going to be a Cy Young winner, but R.A. Dickey was a Quadruple-A player," Abbott said. "I'm not going to tell you this guy's going to win a Fireman of the Year or anything like it, but you don't ever know."
Teufel knows the road ahead is long, but his father taught him the necessity of adjusting.
"Even guys in the big leagues still make adjustments, still find new pitches, work on things," the younger Teufel said. "You know R.A. Dickey, the whole bit. He found the knuckleball. You've got to continually keep inventing yourself and staying sharp."