“He’s truly turned into a three-pitch pitcher,” said the father of the 24-year-old left-hander who has 244 strikeouts in 226 1/3 innings in the minor leagues.

One of those strikeouts came at Triple-A Las Vegas after he was promoted for two games in mid-April.
He was told at 11:30 at night and left on a flight for Vegas at 6 a.m. the next morning.

“It was a whirlwind for sure,” he said.

That first night, he pitched and allowed more runs in two innings (five) than he did in three combined months of May, June and August (three) for Binghamton.

“I was just trying to hang in the best I could,” he said. “It was a rough outing, but I pitched two days later and I had two good innings, so I was happy I was able to make up for it.”

His ability to shrug off the few rare bad outings are a reflection of his level-headed approach, his father said.

“He’s really learned the whole mentality. He takes it as it goes and doesn’t get really too high or too low,” said the elder Kolarek.

”He still loves it like he was running around in Catonsville,” his dad said. “He’s got the enthusiasm and that’s one thing I hope he keeps. You can get tainted in pro ball. It’s a tough racket.”

Unlike his father, who pours over the boxscores daily, Kolarek doesn’t focus on his numbers and doesn’t worry about promotions.

“You just put your numbers up and do the best you can do,” he said. “Things are constantly changing and you can only focus on what you do.”

Right now that means trying to win a championship for the first time in his minor league career.

“Just about everybody that is on this team now was here when we started,” Kolarek said. “That’s different, Guys deserve to go up, but it’s been cool to be together this long. I think this organization sees it that way too, because they want us to have a good shot at winning it all because that doesn’t happen very often.”

The Eastern League playoffs begin on Sept. 4 and Binghamton will most likely be facing Trenton.