NEW BRITAIN - Faced with a 1-0 count, Brandon Fry took the sign, went into his windup and delivered his pitch - a weak ground ball off the bat of Lancaster Barnstormers hitter Sean Halton.
Fry scooped it up, tossed it to first and began his walk back to the New Britain Bees dugout. Another scoreless inning.
A lot can change between seasons. Just ask Fry and those around him, who have certainly taken notice.
In his first five appearances this season, Fry has surrendered just one run - earned or otherwise - in eight innings of work (which included three innings in Sunday’s road win) and out of the 29 batters he has faced, only five have reached base - with one of those coming Sunday on a dropped third strike.
“[He’s] more mature, more confident, more feeling a part,” Bees manager Stan Cliburn said. “That’s what you like to see from these young guys. They’re young guys pitching in this league and having confidence like that, that’s over 90 percent of the battle right there and he’s pitching with a lot of confidence.”
It was a struggle at times for the lefty reliever last year, who had never pitched above High-A ball before signing with the Bees. In 38 games, Fry went 3-3 with a 5.66 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 29 walks in 54 innings on the mound, including a stretch of eight straight appearances in August in which he gave up at least one run.
“I was talking with Greg Golson, who was here last year, this offseason and he was saying ‘hey you have the stuff, you just have to be confident,’” Fry said. “That’s really what I’ve been working on is staying confident. And that’s really the big thing mindset-wise, is if your mind isn’t in the right place like mine was last year, I start struggling and once I started struggling it snowballed.
“I just try to nip it in the bud as early as I can. I also just worked on consistency and staying with the same arm slot and low in the zone and getting stronger this offseason.”
But it has also helped him to have veterans such as former MLB pitchers Joe Beimel and Brandon League in the bullpen to talk to, pick their brains and most importantly, learn how to rebound from a tough outing.
“I talk to them a lot. They have almost 30 years of big league experience combined, so that’s huge right there,” Fry said. “That’s a lot of knowledge that I can lean on. I just turned 24 and I’m still learning. I’m still trying to figure things out and they really help me focus and guide me, so to speak. It makes it a lot easier.
“A lot of these people [in the Atlantic League] are former Double-A, Triple-A, big league players. They have the experience, they went through it. I’ve been to A-ball, but I didn’t have the full experience of getting used and going through that, so if I have a bad game, it’s now more about sitting back and reflecting on what happened and try to remember what I was doing to be successful and getting back to that point.”
As it is with most players in the Atlantic League, Fry’s ultimate goal is to get signed by a Major League affiliate and he knows the way to do that is to keep himself on the same trajectory he has going with the Bees in the early part of the season.
“The better my numbers are, the more opportunities I have, whether that’s here, back in affiliated ball, winter ball, Japan, whatever it might be,” Fry said. “If I keep my numbers where they are going through the season, there’s endless possibilities.”
David Glovach can be reached at or On Twitter: @DavidGlovach