JUCO Pitching Log


#1

Hello. After reading Ben Brewster’s log, I have been inspired to start my own in an effort to further concentrate my development as a pitcher. So to start out, I will kind of summarize my past as a pitcher and where I currently am today.

Background: I started getting serious about pitching the summer following my sophomore year (2013). It was at this point that I realized I had a deep desire to play college baseball, and just to basically reach my ceiling as a baseball player.

  • Sophomore year: My sophomore year was my first year as a pitcher-only (previously was a catcher - so not much time for pitching), and I threw 8 innings on the year for my JV team. I threw in the mid to upper 70s with decent control and decent off-speed. I was an average JV pitcher, essentially. So following my dramatic 8 inning campaign, I committed myself to pursuing my goal of getting a college scholarship and embarked on the path to get the most out of my ability. That summer I went from 165lbs to 180lbs, mainly by focusing on workouts that were squat and DB bench based. I based my throwing work off of ideas I collected from various sources such as 3x Pitching and Tom House and some lesser known instructors that I really just don’t remember because they weren’t very good looking back at it. I did lots of band work though, coupled with long toss and bullpens that I filmed and reviewed twice weekly, along with Jamie Evans Velocity program. By the end of the summer I was sitting in the upper 70s, likely touching 80 (based off of video frame radar techniques which are obviously hit and miss).
  • Junior year: Through the fall season I was throwing upper 70s and touching the low 80s. I did very well and I expected to play a fairly large role in the spring. I failed to do a whole lot of mechanical work at this time, but it was probably for the best as I didn’t know much useful information yet. Over winter break, I went to a couple camps, including one at Vanderbilt University. The knowledge I gained at this camp was a huge breakthrough. The simple adjustments that I made that weekend led to me topping out at 85 in the live scrimmage, and getting a few calls from travel teams and a small D1 at the showcase. A few weeks later I attended a PG showcase, and happened to be the most sore I have ever been in my life due to a camp the weekend before that I was not prepared for. The result was me topping out at 79. The report can be viewed here. The next week in tryouts I topped at 86, so I was disappointed that I wasted my money at the showcase (later realized I would have wasted it anyways… but that’s a different discussion). I was encouraged that the spring would go well, though. As it turned out, I did poorly in one of my outings toward the beginning of the year, and didn’t pitch the rest of the season. I finished with 6 innings. Since I wasn’t pitching at all though, and my velocity and command were wildly inconsistent in bullpens, I decided to try working out with a coach that had just moved down to the area. This guy introduced me to plyocare balls and tons of new mechanical concepts that took my game to the next level. By the time the spring ended, I had been able to spend so much time training since I was not playing that I was now sitting 83-85 and touching 87 with improved command and a solid breaking ball. I ramped up the training even more over the summer, and we ended up spending roughly 3-4 hours a day, 4 days a week training, not including the weight room. At the end of the summer I received my first (and only) scholarship offer from a junior college in Mississippi.
  • Senior year: By the fall, my weight was hovering around 190lbs and I was throwing in the 84-87 range, touching 89, with further improved command and off-speed. My trainer left the area, but with the knowledge I learned from him and the non stop research I have done for the past couple years on pitching, I felt confident taking my training into my own hands. I ended up committing to the juco that offered me after visiting and meeting the pitching coach and really connecting with him on an approach standpoint. I continued to get my weight up throughout the fall as well and got to 198 and felt the strongest I ever have. In December though, I twisted my ankle and ended up having a high ankle sprain, which I thought could possibly derail all my preseason preparations as I had to limp around in a boot for 8 weeks. I was doing the program in the free ebook that Kyle Boddy has out, and continued to do so to the best of my ability in the walking boot. By the time I was cleared to throw off a mound, preseason intersquads were beginning and the season was almost upon us. The third time I threw off a mound was in an intersquad, so I was not banking on my velocity being anywhere near where I wanted it to be. Turned out though, I sat 88-90, touching 91 once. I was finally seeing my dreams come to fruition. The night of that intersquad will be one I will never forget. The spring went on, and I ended up throwing 32 innings with a 1.9 ERA and 50k/18bb. I was happy to see how far I’d come, but I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped. My posterior elbow really bothered me basically the whole spring, and between that and the coaching situation, I was discouraged by the end of the year. I did get an opportunity to walk-on at Florida, but I turned it down. I also garnered some late interest from Georgia Tech in June, but due to the lateness and the fact that scholarship money was up in the air, I stuck to my juco commitment. I went on to play a few tournaments over the summer while my elbow pain persisted, but eventually decided to shut it down and focus on rehab/development to get ready for my freshman year of college. I followed the throwing protocols in Boddy’s HTKC and blended it with some drills I learned at the ARMory (Randy Sullivan) in Tampa, as well as some modified forms of Eric Cressey’s High Performance Handbook protocols. By the end of the summer, my arm and body felt as strong as ever, my elbow pain was gone, and my stuff was as good as it had ever been.
  • College semester 1: I showed up to school in great shape, and was very optimistic for the year ahead. The first time I stepped on the mound for an intersquad though, my posterior shoulder was killing me after only 10 or so pitches. This posterior shoulder pain continued the entire fall season, but it didn’t really hinder my velocity until the very end. I even sat 90-93 for an inning long appearance at Troy University. But by the end of the fall I was in the mid 80s and in tons of pain. I shut it down and focused on basic band/rotator cuff work for rehab, but nothing really helped until I conducted a Randy Sullivan style evaluation of my mechanics and determined the cause of my shoulder (and previous elbow) pain to be my decel pattern. Since traditional rehab didn’t work, I decided to try out Sullivan’s hold sock, to both strengthen the shoulder and start to correct my decel flaws while not feeling pain due to the hold technique. By December I had solved the pain and resumed HTKC protocols blended with more of Sullivan’s drills. Also during the fall, I learned how to really eat to promote gaining. That, mixed with our high intensity, high weight workouts, led to me gaining almost 20 pounds and going from 192 to 210.

It is now January, and our first game is in 10 days. Now, to give a quick outline of where I am as a pitcher right now.

Height: 6-4
Weight: 205
Body fat: 15%
Throws: Right
Strength PRs: 365 back squat 1RM, 100lb db bench 2RM, 385 deadlift 1RM
Pitch arsenal: 4-seam (88-90/93), slider (low-mid 70s), changeup (always been a problematic pitch for me, so still trying to develop)

Long term goal- To play at a good D1 and get a good education, and to go as far as I can in the game by reaching my ceiling as a pitcher.

Short term goals:

  • Lead team in IP in 2016
  • Maintain 200-205 lbs throughout the season
  • Locate changeup consistently
  • Get slider to upper 70s/80+
  • Get to 220 lbs at 15% body fat, then cut to 210 lbs @ 10%
  • Sit in the 90s by 2017
  • Refine 2-seam using laminar flow theory

I apologize for the long background, but I just want to familiarize people with my story, so they can better understand who I am presently as a pitcher. Im going to try to update this blog at least weekly during the season, so let’s get to it.


#2

Awesome stuff. Look forward to following your progress this season!


#3

Here is some video from December showing my current stretch delivery. I have worked on some things since then, so I’ll try to get some new video soon.

Full Speed

Slow-mo (240 fps)

There are a couple more videos on my channel showing my mechanics from this time last year, as well as game footage from a PG tournament the summer before my senior year. Feel free to take a look if you would like.


#4

Now to lay out some short term mechanical goals…

  • I cut off my stride almost a foot before I should be, so I need to ride my back hip down the mound longer. Opening my front leg and getting all the extension I can with it before foot strike should help project my torso forward out over the front leg and really help with the decel process.
  • Focus on power coming through the heel of my foot as opposed to the ball (in long toss and mound work).
  • Decelerating more linearly as opposed to rotationally… i.e. getting a flat back while rotating/swapping shoulders as opposed to just swapping shoulders and spinning off. So main thing is to extend decel path as long as possible. The stride work should help with this.
  • I just added a rhythmic step with my left foot at the beginning of my windup, and it seemed to really give my delivery the rhythm and feel I was looking for. So I need to continue working on making it consistent.
  • My delivery rhythm last spring came pretty much solely from a focus on a high tempo delivery, which I want to make an effort to get back to. This, combined with the rhythm step, should prove to make my delivery much more consistent from inning to inning and day to day.

#5

Awesome! Can’t wait to read up on your future posts. If you could let me in on some insight with the interests you garner from D1 schools out of your juco I would appreciate it as I will be a freshman at a JUCO in this upcoming fall and would like to know how hard to throw to gain interest from big D1 schools.

Best of luck!


#6

@chance6 Can you elaborate on what kind of things you did to fix your shoulder issues? I suffered from a torn labrum, went into physical therapy, got released, and re-injured it just a short time later. Now I am back doing band work and resting, headed to see the Doctor again next week. Arm doesn’t necessarily hurt, it just feels completely “dead.” I feel as if we can relate, because I am committed to a JUCO in Mississippi as well. Played at Scooba this past fall. Good luck to you man! Would love to know how you overcame your shoulder issues because I am currently having a lot of them myself.


#7

@JRS11 Well as far as how hard you need to throw to gain interest from big D1s, well… that’s a tough question. I don’t know what type of pitcher you are, so it’s hard to say. It all depends on arm angle, handedness, pitchability, etc. As for me, I gained D1 interest the summer before I went to school when I threw in front of a handful of scouts at a PG tournament. I threw 86-90 that day, and received some strong interest but no baseball money. But that doesn’t mean 86-90 couldn’t get you money, as it’s all relative. As far as the process once you’re in school goes, I don’t really know yet. I only threw in front of scouts a few times in the fall, and didn’t really throw well so I doubt I got any heavy interest. My coach says he gets a good amount of calls from different coaches and scouts about me though, but I have not talked to any myself yet. Supposedly the beginning of the spring is when the recruiting trail really gets going, but I don’t know just yet. I will keep you updated on any new info.

Thanks for the interest and best of luck to you as well!


#8

@RHP22 Our situations sound very similar. Last spring I was having posterior elbow problems, but managed to throw through it (with the help of standard shoulder PT exercises during the spring season - which helped me finish out the season, but never really made the pain better) until the middle of the summer when I decided I had to shut it down. I took two weeks off, doing only active rest PT protocols. I then decided to attempt to remap my arm action with heavy plyocare balls, as I thought it could help resolve the issue that was causing the pain in the first place. This plan was successful, and my elbow pain went away. A month later though upon reporting to school, I started having the posterior shoulder problems. At the end of the fall my velo was way down so I went to a doctor to get it checked out. He said it could be symptoms of tears in the labrum (which most pitchers have, although many are asymptomatic), and recommended standard active rest PT. He said if it did not feel better after 3 weeks of PT, surgery would be the best option. I did not agree with this treatment plan, and the word surgery scared me, so I did some digging. These are the steps I took to solve the pain:

  1. Purchased Randy Sullivan’s Engineering The Superhuman Pitching Machine: Volume 2, evaluated physical constraints and mechanical constraints.
  2. Determined cause of BOTH posterior shoulder and previous posterior elbow pain seemed to be poor deceleration pattern and resulting “late bang” on the shoulder.
  3. Purchased Oates Specialties Baseball Training Sock, and did deceleration drills by practicing proper decel pattern while throwing ball inside of the throwing sock (which did not hurt my arm).
  4. After two weeks of daily decel drills with throwing sock, I mixed in some light decel drills without the throwing sock and just threw a baseball into a net. This gradually progressed up to 20 regular catch play throws per day, then 30, and all the way up to regular long toss.
  5. Once I was comfortable long tossing, I began Driveline’s on ramping program and focused on decel while mapping out arm action.
  6. As I felt more and more comfortable I got back to my normal throwing routine and now I am currently pain free and the arm feels great.

I obviously am not a doctor or even a trainer, so take this for what you will. This worked for me though, mainly because my big problem was decel pattern, so it wasn’t a terribly difficult fix. This could be different for you, so proceed with caution.

Best of luck with the shoulder. Let me know how it goes or if you need any clarification!
Hope to see you on the field next year.


#9

With our season beginning in just 6 days, I was extended to a 60 pitch count in our intersquad yesterday. I threw 3innings on 48 pitches and gave up no runs, with a walk mixed in and a couple hits. As far as my stuff goes, my first pitch was 92, but after that I worked more in the upper 80s. I was trying to work on some lower half mechanical adjustments, so hopefully my velo will stay a little higher next week when it counts. The slider was more consistently in the mid 70s, which was good to see. I threw a lot of strikes and overall it was a solid day. There should be a good amount of pro scouts where we play next week, so I’m looking to do well. I’m planning on focusing a lot on arm care this week to ensure my arm is ready to go on Friday. Can’t wait to finally throw against someone other than my own team!


#10

I think Im gonna give your remedy a try! Did you see any velo gains from this recovery and the driveline on ramping? Also, can you elaborate the correct decel path?

Thanks!


#11

@JRS11 No I didn’t see any immediate gains, I just got back to where I was before. The closest thing to a “correct” decel path that I could find in good quality video would be Trevor Bauer.

Notice the immediate pronation of the arm just after release… all throwers do this motion naturally to slow the arm down but Trevor’s is very good. Also, he gets over his front side very well, which extends his decel path and gives his arm a ton of room to slow down. Additionally, your arm shouldn’t cross the midline of the body during deceleration.

The top picture is a still from the video I used to evaluate my mechanical issues when I was having my shoulder problems. Notice my arm position in relation to Trevor’s. His is not crossing the midline of his body, whereas mine is coming directly across my body. Also, there are obvious differences with our trunk position and everything like that, which I’m still trying to work on. Also, you can see in Trevor’s video that his arm remains in the position that it’s in in the picture, whereas mine bounces, producing a late bang:

Finally, Trevor rotates completely around his front side to the point where by the end of it, his back is almost facing the hitter. This, like the flat back, gives him ample time to decelerate.

Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes.


#12

Awesome response. Thank you so much. I’ve always admired Bauers mechanics as he really “finishes” the pitch as I would say. You explained it very well. Appreciate it man. Looking forward to more posts on your log and best of luck with your season!


#13

Had my first start of the year yesterday. Probably the weirdest outing of my pitching career thus far. Being that a tornado came and caused a ton of damage to our baseball field and housing last week, we had very very limited practice time leading up to this weekend. This proved to be fatal in my outing, as I went 5 innings and gave up one hit and 3 walks, but gave up 6 runs because of 8 errors. I felt alright for it being my first start of the year, but it’s hard to evaluate my performance separate from the errors. I threw a good amount of strikes and got a lot of weak grounders and popups, so I suppose that’s positive. I threw 73 pitches in my 5 innings, which I’m happy with especially considering the extended innings due to errors. Overall it was a very efficient day. I had no strikeouts though, which is really a first for me in a start but my stuff was still solid so I don’t know what the problem was there. Fastball was 87-91 and the slider was upper 70s (started looping it again in the low 70s towards the end). The key for my slider is just to throw it as hard as I possibly can, instead of trying to get max break like I would on a curveball. Got to get away from the curveball mentality. We rebounded defensively today and played pretty solid, so it should be smoother sailing now. Next game is next Tuesday. Unsure whether I will be starting or not.