You don't ask a player about trade talk in the off-season. (ahem)
Or you do and get a reaction of slight confusion, followed by silence, and a very solid, simple answer.
"The off-season is the time to get away from baseball. And I have no control over that. I don't spend time thinking about that."
Fair enough. And good answer.
Because Buckel need not be concerned with anything but continuing to build on the success he had in 2012.
He began the season with the Mobile Baybears, pitching to a 1.31 ERA in 75 innings, finishing the season with the Frisco Roughriders, going 5-5 with a 3.78 ERA in 69 innings.
Despite how many things he did right, there was some down time. So he got to work.
"I did get out of sync at one point and looked at video to fix some mechanical flaws."
Double-A hitters are more selective, he said, much more knowledgeable. He made the league-jump from Class-A Carolina to Double-A Texas, starting 13 games for Mobile, then 10 for Frisco. His ERA jumped in early July, but his last few starts were an improvement. He gave up just two runs in his last four starts, and didn't allow a walk in his final three starts.
Part of his development has been developing a cutter that wasn't working into a more effective slider. He was throwing both, but there were differences, and he began to pay attention.
"At Frisco I sort of lost my feel for the cutter. So I just stuck with the slider in the last few starts."
2011 was about being thrown into a big challenge. He pitched a month of relief, before being put in the rotation. That may seem like a heavy workload, but Buckel ,20, insists he was prepared.
"It wasn't too difficult. I grew up playing year 'round in [Simi Valley] California since I was twelve. I was used to getting up and going to a ballpark everyday, and putting my body to work."
Drafted by the Rangers in 2010 out of Royal High School, in the 2nd round, he pitched five innings in the Arizona Fall League for his professional debut. He allowed one walk and struck out nine batters. He entered 2011 with the Hickory Crawdads in the Class-A South Atlantic League, spending his entire first full-pro season there.
The right-hander's 2.61 ERA was impressive enough to earn him the start at the next level, and a quick climb even higher. With a fastball that can hit 96, he tends to favor a fastball-curveball combination to get guys out.
He's aiming to put on a little more weight in the off-season and in preparation for 2013, he's watching more video of himself.
"I need to get ahead of hitters more and use my changeup [more effectively]. I'm making some slight tweaks mechanically."
He's already entering 2013 on a good note. Baseball America ranked him 9th on their Top 10 Rangers Prospects list. A few notches up from previous years.
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