In the days following the five-round 2020 MLB Draft, the Yankees reached an agreement with right-handed pitcher Trevor Holloway. He was coming off two good but short seasons at the University of Central Florida and was an intriguing arm to watch in the system. He put together a strong professional debut, finishing with High-A Hudson Valley. Holloway recently took the time to speak with Pinstripe Alley about his path to the organization, his debut season, and what he is doing this offseason.
Pitching was not always at the front of Holloway’s mind when it came to baseball. Despite some urging from his coaches, he did not step on a mound until his senior year of high school.
“I’ve always had a strong arm and I was throwing it pretty good across the infield and they wanted me to go pitch,” said Holloway. “They asked me — and this is one of my high school pitching coach's favorite stories — he said, ‘Hey, you want to pitch?’ and I said ‘Nope, I don’t want to pitch, I don’t want anything to do with it.’
“I played the infield in high school and then I was playing travel ball ... going into my senior year, going deep into a tournament and they needed me to pitch. So, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, what's the worst thing that could happen?’ So I pitched that tournament, and I was throwing mid-to-high 80s. Then, I took some lessons to learn how to not pitch… like an infielder... then the velo kept coming, so once the velo was there, it was just a natural thing — OK, I’m a little bit better at this than what my future will be hitting.”
Holloway came to the Yankees’ system after playing four seasons of college ball for three different schools. In his mind that provided advantages on the field, with the biggest disadvantage coming on the academic side of things.
“I got to learn a lot from a bunch of different people in different atmospheres and situations,” said Holloway. “One of the biggest benefits I think was that you just get to pick a lot of people’s brains and talk baseball and meet people with different experiences... The downside to that is that you lose a lot of college credits along the way. Other than, that it was the right decision for me.”
During his second year of collegiate ball, while playing for Chipola College, Holloway won a NJCAA national championship. The school is known for being a baseball powerhouse at the junior college level (notable alumni include José Bautista, Russell Martin, and Patrick Corbin), and Holloway knows why.
“Coach (Jeff) Johnson is absolutely phenomenal,” said Holloway. “He understands the discipline it takes to be elite, and it's about baseball there, and I loved that aspect of it... Baseball is a long season. So it's about showing up and being able to do the little things. He taught the little things and taught the little pieces that make you win those baseball games that maybe you shouldn’t win.”
Undrafted after MLB limited the draft to five rounds in 2020, Holloway decided on the Yankees as the team he wanted to sign with as an undrafted free agent.
“I think largely the attention to detail, and I’ve referenced that with Chipola and places I’ve pitched,” said Holloway. “[Yankees Pitching Coordinator] Sam Briend sat down with me and said ‘Look, this is where I see you and what I think you can improve right away, and you’re going to see a lot of benefits from that.’ He did all of that pre-draft... I felt like they were really going to invest their time and energy into making me the best pitcher I can be and my hunger for growing would then be matched.”
Upon arriving in pro ball, Holloway’s biggest adjustment was how he would be used after being a starter all through college.
“Being moved from a starter to the bullpen, I had to learn how to get my body ready and get ready fast,” said Holloway. “They call your name down in the bullpen and you don’t have the luxury of warming up like a starter does. That was probably my biggest learning curve. I was lucky enough to have Brett DeGagne really help me out through that. He was my pitching coach in Tampa, so we had lots of discussions on how to get ready ... and just understand where I need to be to compete.”
Another complication added into Holloway’s first professional season was the fact that he broke into the Low-A level pitching wth the experimental automated strike zone in place.
“Our first couple games were four-hour games that took forever. The zone was so much smaller, and the catchers spent all that time training and perfecting stealing strikes and framing pitches, so it took that part of the game out of it and you're just throwing,” said Holloway. “I’m a sinker, slider mix guy so to my advantage sometimes, I could nick corners that I wouldn’t get otherwise.”
Holloway’s teammates on the Low-A Tampa team had a lot to do with the first week of games lasting so long, as they put up an absurd 76 runs in their 6 six games of the season.
“Yeah, I’m always ok with that, if the game runs long because we are scoring runs, I’m fine,” said Holloway.
Holloway has a positive assessment of his first season after posting a 3.39 ERA with 11 K/9 across 69 innings pitched.
“Overall, it was good> I learned a lot and I’m a significantly better pitcher now than I was going into it,” said Holloway. “I think that is a huge part of baseball. Anytime you're playing a lot of games or you're trying to move levels — whether you’re starting in Little League, working up to high school — it's just about getting better. I refined a lot of my things.
“Of course, I have a whole list of things to keep achieving and going after. I think I grew and because of that, I think it was a success.”
With one professional season under his wings, Holloway is adding another wrinkle to his game while continuing to refine his existing pitches.
“I’m adding a cutter to the arsenal ... otherwise it's just about refining those pitch shapes, being able to hit those locations,” said Holloway.
Holloway has also taken the time to start a YouTube channel this winter, where he is talking baseball and demonstrating skills for youth players looking for ways to improve their own games.
“I’ve been around a lot of youth baseball in a bunch of different states, and I wanted to provide some information to kids who would either never get that baseball knowledge or feel that they are advanced and could handle more,” said Holloway. “So, for me it's about providing that information for younger players so that they can continue to get better and continue to reach their goals and dreams.
“That was the inspiration for it. I’ve been pretty excited with the impact that it’s already had. Starting a YouTube channel, the cliché thing is that you start it and no one sees it for three years. That hasn’t been the case, so that’s really exciting... I’m learning the video-making process, I’ve got the information, I feel like it's good information. It's just about my video-editing skills at this point, so I’m working at that... I think it’s another way for players to communicate. It’s a way to access someone playing professional baseball. I would have loved that if I had that when I was growing up. Whether it be ‘Oh, hey. I had a question on this’ in the comments below, I read all of them, so that would be a good way to communicate with people that way.”
Trevor Holloway is a strong candidate to start next season with Double-A Somerset. Pinstripe Alley thanks Trevor for taking the time to speak with us and we wish him the best this upcoming season.