Pitcher morphology:  It’s a lucky sperm thing

Freshman pitching prodigy at Fridley.  He’s gone 9-0 on the year, thrown a couple no-hitters.

http://www.startribune.com/fridley-s-evan-shaw-is-freshman-pitching-wizard/381214551/

Yeah, he’s a prodigy alright, he’s really mastered some finer points at a young age….

Two weeks ago in my 35+ game we played a guy who I had encountered ten years ago in the ‘real’ amateur league and a couple other places.  Then as a young man this guy truly threw about 90.  A) he told everyone he threw 90, he had been doing the tryout camp circuit, had been radar timed  B) I caught him in a fall league game and he gave me a palm bruise that lasted for months w/ the pony league mitt I was using C) he struck out a lot of guys.  Ergo, he threw 90, I’m sure he wasn’t BSing.

So we have this game two weeks ago, I guess he’s 36, and he still threw very hard.  Wasn’t hard enough that I was confused into swinging at terribly bad pitches… I laid off the neck high stuff.  But he put it down the middle at the naval and it was in the glove as my bat is going over the plate.  Still better than an 85mph fastball I’d think, too fast for me.  Also got me on a juco quality curveball I had no chance at, didn’t know if I was on foot or horseback there…

Throwing always was my favorite physical activity, and it remains as I get older…In 2016 we got all this knowledge on pitcher kinesiology, and I’ve read it… so I looked at this guy to observe his somewhat elite ‘kinetic chain’ as they say…. And that’s not really what I saw.

Oh, I know the good kinetic chain is there, because the speed means it’s there…. Just like the astronomer knows the dog star is X light years away because of parallax. But I am not seeing the kinetic chain on this dad-bodish 36 year old, whose motion was actually kinda ponderous.

What jumps out at me is an extreme limberness of the shoulder joint that not a lot of people (guys) have that makes for an elite explosiveness of that to-the-plate ‘trebuchet’ action.

First time I ever saw this on someone who could really throw was with the current Fridley phenom’s uncle, the Dennis mentioned in the story, when he was at BSU.  He lived on same floor of dorm as freshman.  Good, affable guy.  He played home run derby with safety baseballs on the ‘quad’ with a couple of us just once I think in the fall of say ’88.

I was like… so that’s what a real fastball is….  He had been timed, and I recall him saying he threw 86 or so.  Well that’s what they call 91-92 now.  He went on to sign an undrafted contract with the Twins and had a couple good years in A ball, led Kenosha in saves once if I read BBref right.  He wouldn’t of if he didn’t throw over 90, the game hasn’t actually change that way, it’s just the radar algorithms that have.

So the 15 year old prodigy…  I think there’s kind of an untruthfulness in these articles when they imply some kind of mastery has been attained, thus leading to…. ‘success!’.  That’s not it, you can’t put a toothpick skinny 15 year old on the mound and think his ‘mastery’ has a fighting chance to defeat 18 year olds.

What he’s got is precocious speed.  I’ve understood the ‘no-hitters in high school’ threshold to be about 90 mph, just below maybe.  That’s where the kid is.  At 15.

He didn’t work his way into that, its riding around on a gene.  Article does give a proper nod to the notion of ‘heritability’ there, mentioning Dennis and the grandpa.  The kid’s youth and his fastball proves it.

I’d just take the moment of this example to go further, and say that with the pitcher, it’s always that, ie having inherited a shoulder with a certain ability for motion.  I have really heard of no fella who actually worked up to a pro-arm.  It hurts trying to throw that hard when you are not actually capable of it.

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