Pitch Design with Nate Fitzpatrick & KineticPro Pt. 1
I want to show you how to attain your own pitch design goals, in addition to spurring discussions about every aspect of pitch design. To do this, I have chosen to work with Nathan Fitzpatrick, a LHP looking to build his game up and burst onto the professional scene. We will be working closely over the next few months at KineticPro Performance in Tampa, FL to maximize the movement, speed, and consistency of his pitches.
Working with us will be Casey Mulholland at KineticPro Performance. His expertise on pitcher workload will help Nate clean up his mechanics and his facility is perfect for us to conduct our sessions. Casey will help Nate maximize the power and health of his body while I will help maximize his pitches.
Since 2017, KineticPro Performance has been developing elite baseball players from the highest levels of the game. Taking a data forward approach, KineticPro has aided players around the world in reaching their best on the field. KineticPro Baseball utilizes a philosophy developed by KineticPro called “T3” to assure health of the athlete is maximized while performance goals are achieved.
By utilizing the Motus sleeve, Casey can monitor the workload of his pitchers while understanding how the arm handles the torque put on it by throwing a baseball. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to learn more, definitely check out his work at kineticprobaseball.com and download his amazing work book that goes in depth on his data driven analysis.
Currently, Casey and Nate are working hard to clean up his mechanics and build up his strength to get him ready for the hard work on the mound. However, our first day at KineticPro we were able to get Nate on the mound to gather preliminary base data of his pitches which are below.
During this session, he threw three types of pitches, 4seam, changeup, and curveball. The first thing I'm sure you can notice about his 4seam and changeup is his spin efficiency. This is a small sample size, so it will be difficult to make a completely accurate assessment but it is a great start. Lets break these down together.
Hovering around 100% is exactly what we want, and being between 11:30 and 12 will allow him to maximize his carry. According to the Rapsodo data, Nate is able to generate over 20 inches of vertical movement. That is above average, especially considering his velocity and spin rate. It will be exciting to see how his readings change as his velocity grows.
Another thing that stands out is how much his horizontal movement changes from the slightest change of his spin axis. This confirms what I have talked about in my previous posts, maximizing spin efficiency really enhances the overall movement on a pitch. As soon as that ball tilts to the left a little bit, it takes off arm side. Going off of this data, I believe that a 2seam would be an effective pitch for him. Having a pitch with above average carry at high velocity and another with above average run can be a devastating combination.
Next time we get on the mound, we will test out a cutter. Our goal with this is to see if we can maintain his above average carry while creating a pitch that can move away from LHHs and in on RHHs.
Just like his fastball, Nate is able to generate near 100% spin efficiency on his changeup. That is an impressive feat with a circle change grip. Unfortunately, you can also notice that his spin rate read higher than his 4seam and his spin axis is way closer to 12:00 than we would like. This could be a symptom of the small sample size, so we will keep an eye on it going forward.
With some grip tinkering, we can consistently avoid our spin rate problem. If the issues prevail after perfecting the circle change grip, then we will tinker with a vulcan or split finger grip.
The spin axis issue will be a tougher task. The best way to push that axis towards our desired 9:00, outside of changing the grip, is emphasizing the pronating of the hand on release. Max Scherzer is a master of this technique and uses his pregames and bullpen sessions to exaggerate this so it is easier for him to execute during a game. Fortunately, his high spin efficiency allows for increased horizontal movement from the slightest axis change.
The best kind of curveball to pair with a high carry fastball is a 12/6 curveball. Unfortunately, Rapsodo was only able to read one of his curveballs, but the one we did record showed good results. His data shows substantial velocity drop (60mph),efficiency above 80%, a spin axis close to 6:00, and above average vertical drop (-19in). As we continue to work, two of our goals will be to be consistent with a 6:00 axis and a spin efficiency above 90%.
After day 1, I see a lot of positives from his pitches and a high ceiling of possibilities as he works hard to increase his velocity and create a more efficient pitching motion. It is going to be exciting to see the results 6 months from now.
I will continue to upload more posts following along on Nate's journey to pro ball. Join me as I break down the week to week pitch design sessions!