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What’s up guys! My name is Ryan Kirk and I’ll be working with Baseball Rebellion this summer as a pitching intern. Since I was 16 years old, I’ve been interested and passionate about player development not only for my own playing career but others as well. With that said, my career goal is to coach in college or at a facility like Baseball Rebellion, which is one of the reasons why I decided to come to work here.
In the past, I have coached over the summer and winter break at Carolina’s Baseball Center in Charlotte, NC. Throughout my time at CBC, I have coached teams on the showcase circuit, ran short group velocity programs, written strength and conditioning programs for pitchers, and even hosted a few kids at my house for quarantine workouts.
During my time here I’ll be working with Kyle doing individual and group lessons as well as writing bringing some knowledge from the pitching and strength and conditioning side to the facility. I’m really looking forward to learning as much as possible from Kyle while also providing my input from a pitching and training standpoint. In addition, I will be training here for the entire summer as I continue to chase my dream of playing professional baseball.
First, a little background on myself. I am from Kannapolis, NC (just north of Charlotte, NC) and am currently a 23-year-old redshirt-junior right-handed pitcher at North Greenville University (D2) in Tigerville, SC. Growing up, I was always one of the bigger, stronger, and harder throwing kids in the area.
However, as I grew older, I plateaued from a velocity, command, and health standpoint. I was no longer the best pitcher on the field and struggled to stay healthy. I ended up eventually tearing my UCL and getting Tommy John surgery prior to my junior year of high school. I thought I would naturally come back feeling healthier and throwing harder than ever (a common misconception about coming back from Tommy John surgery), but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
I still struggled to remain healthy and my velocity and command were about the same or worse as before (79-86 mph. range). From there, I was referred by a teammate to the Texas Baseball Ranch, which ended up being one of the best decisions of my career thus far.
At the time, I didn’t use my lower half at all in my delivery and they taught me two things that quickly raised my velocity from 80-86 to 86-89 by the next weekend at a Perfect Game tournament. From there, I received multiple offers and eventually committed to Campbell University (D1) in Buies Creek, NC.
I came into Campbell University as a righty starting pitcher ranging from 87-92 mph with my fastball. I had many coaches tell me that I had a good chance to get drafted if I continued to develop and succeed on the field; however, poor performance and a multitude of setbacks hindered that opportunity.
After two years at Campbell along with a herniated disc and a strained flexor tendon in my sophomore year, I decided to transfer to North Greenville. It was great to have a change of scenery with new teammates, new coaches, and a really good team that had a legitimate chance of winning a D2 National Championship
I had high hopes for that season and was looking to get my career back on track until I suffered a high-grade tear in my flexor tendon in my third outing of the spring. For the second year in a row, I was out again for the majority of the season. At this time in my career, I could feel my chances of playing professional baseball slowly slipping through the cracks.
Moving forward into my 4th year of college, I was confident that I would be able to stay healthy and have a great season, with another team that had a chance to win a national championship. At this point, I wasn’t as worried about getting drafted. All I wanted was to simply stay healthy and be a key contributor to the team.
Before the season, my coaches at North Greenville decided to switch me from a starter to closer. At first, I wasn’t totally bought into the change, but my mindset changed quickly when I started the season with 14 scoreless innings along with three wins and three saves.
Finally, this was going to be my year. Then all of a sudden, my flexor tendon flared up again and I was going to be out for another long period of time. I was completely distraught. I thought my career was over and I couldn’t believe that it happened again during the best season of my college career. At that point, the chances of me fulfilling my lifelong dream of getting drafted and playing professional baseball seemed to be decreasing with every injury, and every season that passed.
The MLB’s decision to decrease the rounds in the draft from 40 to 5 definitely didn't help my case either. Despite this decision, along with my age, and injury history, I still have that desire and drive to keep pursuing this dream. Hanging up the cleats was certainly in the back of my head after this spring. However, I knew I couldn’t hang it up at this point.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to look back when I’m 40 years old and wonder what would’ve happened if I had kept going. I love being at North Greenville with the best coaches and teammates I could ask for and I appreciate them more than they know for not giving up on me. And most importantly I still love playing the game of baseball so there's no reason to give up at this point. In the end, whether I accomplish my dream of playing professional baseball or not, I can be content with my career if I know that I did everything in my power for as long as I can to reach that dream.
Throughout my college career thus far, I have sat in the 88-92 mph. range with average command and an above average slider. My goal is to gain a few more mph on my fastball to be consistently sitting in the low 90’s by next spring. This is going to require a lot of diligence and patience on my side, but I think it can be done if I just stick to the plan and trust the process given to me by my coaches at North Greenville and Tread Athletics.
During my time here at Baseball Rebellion, I will obviously continue to train myself, but I will also be assisting Kyle with individual and group pitching lessons, as well as researching and writing about various baseball topics.
I’m super excited to share some information on certain topics as it will not only grow my knowledge but hopefully grow the reader’s knowledge as well.
With that said, it’s time to get to work! Here’s to learning more about the game we all love!