Midwest Blazers Scout Team: Tips of the Game

Pitching Warm-ups -Don't leave your game in the bullpen!

Some years ago, I was coaching in a 12 year old league championship game. The opposing team had a dominant stud pitcher. He had not lost a game all year but I had noticed that he threw an inordinate number of pitches in rapid succession while warming up in the bullpen. I counted at least 50 pitches at full effort, including breaking balls. My team was Home team so he then took the mound first for his pregame warm up pitches again delivered in rapid succession. I came up with a plan! I asked my assistant to count the number of warm ups he threw. I delayed going to the umpires meeting at the plate and when I got there I told a couple of long jokes. I then pointed out that under the ground rules for the championship game we had agreed to treat this as we would as an All Star game. The umpires must check all equipment for defects. While the umps checked for cracked helmets and dented bats, the pitcher threw an average of 5 pitches per minute. This whole pregame routine took about 10 minutes during which he delivered 50 pitches!!! Counting his throws in the bullpen, he was around 100 before the game even started! His dad/coach was shocked when we put 8 runs on him in the first and added 10 more on his relief in the rest of the game. Dad/coach hung his head and muttered he had never seen his stud throw so poorly ( later when he found out what I had done, I heard he was livid at me for such an underhanded tactic but he had to be nice to me by then because I was the All Star coach and his son was playing for me.)
Pitchers warming up improperly happens more frequently than not. You would not believe the number of "prospect" pitchers I have had on the Lone Star Baseball Club that throw about six pitches in the pen to prepare to throw two innings in front of ten radar gun totin’ scouts. The scouts go away shaking their heads as most of the pitches register 84 topping out at 90 on the last one because the pitcher is finally warm….. but his day is over.

1. Warm up to throw. You don’t throw to warm up

2. Run and stretch prior to touching a ball

3. Warm up with the position players including long toss.

4. Each pitch from the mound in the bullpen should be delivered with full mechanics.

5. Throw fastballs about 75%, concentrating on hitting spots.

6. Throw a few breaking balls and change ups 75% hitting spots.

7. Work out of the stretch also.

8. Only on about the last 5 pitches should
you throw full speed!

9. Total pitches in the pen should not exceed about 25-30

10. Take your time while warming up and focus on perfect mechanics and getting a good rhythm.

Pitches delivered between innings are merely to loosen up the arm after sitting on the bench. Focus on hitting spots, having perfect mechanics and finding a good rhythm.
Don’t leave your game in the bullpen. Warm up to allow yourself to be pitching at maximum efficiency from the first pitch and maintain maximum efficiency for the longest possible duration

By: Bruce Lambin


Quality At-Bats are the Keys to Being a Great Hitter
Baseball is a game of failure. It is how well you handle the failures not the successes that will be the determining factor in how well and how long a player plays the game. Stats are an integral part of the game but if used as a measure of how well one is performing can be a heavy burden and not a valid indicator of how well one is performing. A more valid and helpful measurement is Quality At Bats.
I define a quality at bat as:

1. The batter goes to the plan with a plan. He should know what pitch he can hit with expectation of having the highest degree of success. Ted Williams knew that he hit .135 on back door sliders down and away but over .500 on fast balls belt high, down the middle. We would never have heard of Ted Williams if he swung at many down and away sliders!

2. The batter swings only at high success expectation pitches early in the count. For most young hitters that means not swinging at breaking balls early in the count. With no strikes he will swing at fast balls "zoned" say middle- in and thigh to waist high. The batter’s hitting zone as opposed to strike zone is not static but changes with each count. Great "hitter’s counts" are 2-0, 3-1 and 3-2 . The pitcher must challenge the batter and the odds of him getting a pitch that he can expect to hit with a high degree of success are much higher. Undisciplined hitters often never get to 3-1 because they won’t lay off that pitch that is in the strike zone but not a quality hitter’s pitch. They all ready made an out not because they aren’t a good hitter but because they weren’t disciplined enough to wait for a good pitch.

3. Several other good thing occur because a hitter is disciplined. The pitcher must throw more pitches. The batter "sees" more of the pitcher’s stuff. The pitcher will tire sooner and when he tires he will make more mistakes and then he is more hittable.

4. The batter must take pitches to ever draw a walk. All walks are "quality at bats".

5. A strike out can be a quality at bat! If the batter makes the pitcher throw an inordinate number of pitches, he has helped his team much more than the hitter that swung at the first pitch and made an out. A strikeout is just an out ,the same as a ground ball to SS. Managers have a tendency to place too much negativity on strikeouts.
It is vital that a hitter learn that the only thing he has control of at the plate is at which particular pitch he chooses to swing.!!! If he swings at a quality pitch, hits the ball sharply, and it is caught by a fielder, he has had a quality at bat!!!!

If he can at the end of a game know he had 3 of 4 quality AB’s, even if he was 0 fer, he must realize he had a good game at the plate. A byproduct of this emphasis on quality AB’s will be that he will find not only his BA rising but his slugging pct. as he gets more balls he can drive. His mental well being will improve and if the whole team adopts this approach, they will WIN more games.

By: Bruce Lambin