Establishing mound presence

Jon’s_dad brought up an interesting observation in his General Pitching Discussion post under the topic “The ‘other side’ pro scouts look for.”

In the post, he talked about Minnesota Twins pitcher Brad Radke’s mound presence… which leads to the question:

As a baseball coach or parent, what do you look for in a pitcher pertaining to mound presence? What do you teach your pitchers about it and how? As a pitcher, how do you go about handling your business on the mound? How do you show mound presence? Is it conscience or sub-conscience arrogance (or inner-arrogance)?

In the same post (“The ‘other side’ pro scouts look for”) RTusk40 (Ryan Tatusko, Indiana State Univ. pitcher) talked about his conversation with a pro scout about mound presence. My experience has been the same as Ryan’s: scouts love it, and they demand it from the pitchers they draft.

So what about mound presence?

Besides what I wrote already, the LACK of mound presence actually has more impact on a game. No one likes a whiner (especially umpires!) and I don’t care how young the kids are they can smell blood in the water when they step up to the plate. Even the worst hitter on the team can feel like he can rock the pitcher.

What do I look for? Besides a poker face, things like moving to the correct back up position on every hit. Giving recognition to position players on a good play. Avoiding the ‘stare down’ or worse, comments to a position player after an error. Getting right back on the rubber and asking for the ball. Avoid delaying tactics like toeing the dirt or repeated throws to check the runner.

And off the mound? We all know some pitchers who are highly effective that no one gets close to even on off days. But moodiness in high school college isn’t going to endear you to teammates, coachs or scouts so save that persona for game time. On the other hand, confidence can brew up some embarassing boasts too. Remember, anybody can, and will, give up a home run or get totally blown out.

Jon is a bright kid and certainly is competitive but he loves to say ‘no where but in baseball can you be good enough to win more than half the time and be considered successful. Being even a little bit better and you can be a champion’.

Yesterday (9/11/05), my 10:U AAU team played a double header. My first pitcher throws a complete game, 9 strike out, 1 hitter. It was his best performance yet and I noticed emotionally he remained “cool” all game long. Even after the game when we were congratulating him and heaping praises, he shrugged it off as no big deal. The 2nd game, my son pitched a complete game, 10 strikeout, 5 hitter. He only walked 2 the whole game, but at one stretch he couldn’t find the strike zone. I watched closely because usually this is were the frustration sets in and it all comes apart. It culminated in him beaning a batter. I thought for sure that would be all-she-wrote, but when I asked if he was o.k., he looked at me like I was stupid and say “yeah, why?”. He then went on to strike out the side and get out of the inning. Later a kid crushes a triple off him (and I mean he crushed it). My son’s response? “I guess I shouldn’t have thrown that pitch”. He strikes out the last two and gets out of the inning.

The moral of the story: It my opinion, at least at this age, mound “presence” (or at this age maybe “emotional stability” is a better word) is a make or break attribute. Both of my pitchers were cool as an ice cube and they both pitched their best game to date. Jon’s Dad, you’re right, my hitters do smell fear. If they know they can get to a pitcher, they are doing their best to rattle his cage at the plate. However, I noticed an “in control” pitcher tends to make them timit at the plate.

we all know what happens when 10-12 yr olds crumble on the mound. I’d like to hear from anyone in high school or above about their experiences both positive and negative.

When I started pitching I had a complete lack of confidence. Now, in college, I have extreme confidence, but not arrogance. The batter was my enemy, and he was all I saw. All that was going through my mind was “This is my mound, and that is my plate.” When the game is over there is no rivalry, no bad looks. It is over. But for those nine innings (or seven) I am the biggest, baddest motherfucker out there. Maybe that is why I love baseball so much. It gives me an air of confidence without being a total prick.

On the negative side:
When I lack confidence I tend to lose alot of velocity and put the ball right over the plate and it gets smashed. I get afraid to own the inside of the plate. I havent had this problem in quite some time though.

Early Wynn, the great Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox pitcher, once said, “The mound is my office and I don’t want anyone messing with it.” Very true. When a pitcher takes the mound, he needs to have that kind of attitude, that the mound is his office, he owns it, and he does NOT want batters messing around with it or with him.
When I pitched, back in the day, whether it be as a starter or as a reliever-between-starts, I would take the mound with one thing in mind: get those batters out. They were the enemy, so to speak, and the whole idea was to get rid of them, send them back to their bench foaming at the mouth. I did it with control, command, and a nice arsenal of offspeed and breaking pitches—I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of, so I had gone in the other direction. And I had fun—a lot of fun, making those batters look very stupid with my stuff; I had built my repertoire around a killer slider and a very good knuckle-curve, and I would use any and all of my other pitches to set those batters up for a strikeout.
And I got that strikeout.
I also learned a lot from watching the Yankees’ Big Three rotation of that time—fireballing Vic Raschi, everything-bagel Allie Reynolds, and that supreme finesse pitcher Ed Lopat who, as my pitching coach for several years, instilled in me that calmness and supreme confidence in myself and my ability on the mound. Each one of those guys had a lot to offer, and I took the best of all three and incorporated it into my own pitching. And I never lost a game! 8) :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:

I think a lot of what has been discussed here falls under the bigger topic of “the mental game”. I consider mound presence as simply the image a pitcher presents to the opposing players/coaches. That image should be one of confidence and being in control - even if you aren’t. Granted, other aspects of the mental game can affect mound presence so a pitcher does have to manage the complete mental game.

A few years ago, I went to an Arizona State game against the University of Arizona. In the bottom of the 1st, ASU rung up 8 runs before the UofA coach made a visit to the mound. After that, ASU added 4 more runs before the end of the inning. Despite getting completely hammered, the UofA pitcher never showed one ounce of emotion. Instead, he continued to act like he was in control. I think that kept you wondering if he was going to get himself back on track at any moment. That may very well have kept ASU’s confidence from skyrocketing more than it already had.