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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!
We are excited to announce the addition of Lacey Waldrop to the Baseball & Softball Rebellion Staff! Waldrop will be Softball Rebellion's Director of Pitching and will be doing softball pitching lessons as well as providing content for our website and social media's.
Waldrop comes to the Rebellion from Duke University where she was the pitching coach for the last two seasons, helping lead the Blue Devils to 54 total wins and 24 ACC wins. In addition, Duke's pitching staff finished second in the ACC with a 2.05 ERA in 2018.
Baseball Rebellion CEO has this to say about Waldrop:
"I am excited to announce the addition of Lacey to the team here at the Rebellion. Since I met Lacey two years ago I knew she would be a dynamite addition to our staff. She's going to lead the Softball Rebellion pitching program and her vast knowledge from both playing and coaching at the highest levels will help our hitting program get better as well. Hiring an ACC pitching coach and former National Player of the Year (2014) is a tremendous addition to Softball Rebellion. We couldn't be more excited to be apart of Lacey's ongoing growth and development of young women."
Before joining the Blue Devils, Waldrop spent one season at the University of Oklahoma, where she served as a graduate student manager. Waldrop and the Sooners went 61-9, captured both the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles and defeated top-seeded Florida in the best-of-three NCAA championship series to win their second consecutive Women's College World Series crown.
The two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year selection and the 2014 USA Softball National Player of the Year pick at Florida State paced the Seminoles to a four-year record of 195-58 with three ACC regular season championships, two ACC Tournament crowns and four NCAA Tournament berths including one College World Series appearance in 2014. A three-time All-ACC and All-America choice, she turned in 859.2 career innings of work and posted a 109-29 record with seven saves, a 1.37 earned run average and 917 strikeouts.
Waldrop, a two-time Academic All-ACC choice and two-time ACC All-Tournament Team selection, finished her career among Florida State’s all-time leaders in pitching victories (1st), pitching appearances (170; 2nd), strikeouts (3rd) and saves (4th). In addition, she was the recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in 2015 and earned 16 ACC Player of the Week citations during her heralded career. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 National Pro Fastball draft by the Chicago Bandits, Waldrop helped the Bandits to consecutive NPF championships in 2015 and 2016.
To book lessons with Lacey, please call Baseball & Softball Rebellion at 919-309-0040.
Disclaimer: Benny R. (@BatCaveHitting) is a customer of Baseball Rebellion's hitting products. He performed this study on his own and was not directed/instructed by Baseball Rebellion in any way to do this study. After seeing Benny's tweet out (seen below) his results online, we asked if he would write a brief summary of his training for our website. THE FOLLOWING CASE STUDY IS BY BENNY R. A BASEBALL REBELLION CUSTOMER
At 39 yrs old decided I wanted to learn how to hit the ball far. So I armed myself with a #rebelsrack , a #LaunchAngleTee adapter and #hittraxbaseball and started learning how to turn. So far these are the results. pic.twitter.com/HFwuS4vmkV
— BatCaveResearchLab (@batcavehitting) May 20, 2018
In October 2017, I got to the realization that all the hitting coaching cues my 10-year-old son was receiving were the same cues that were taught to me at his age: swing down, just make contact, hit the ball into the ground. He was receiving so much step-by-step mechanical instructions that he was freezing at the plate. Being an engineering professor with amateur baseball experience and due to the fact that my son likes performing experiments, we decided that performing experiments would be a good way for him to work on his hitting and track the changes he needed to implement in order for him to hit the ball hard, over the infielders head.
The main problem from my side was that at 39 yrs old, I’m a 5’9” 160 lbs lefty hitter. Therefore, you can imagine that when I was a kid, I was taught to hit the ball into the ground or hit low line drives into the holes left open by the infielders. Even more, from the age of 18 yrs old to 38 yrs old (last time I played baseball), I only hit the ball over the fence once. Now at 39 yrs old, I had to learn/understand how to hit the ball hard and far in order to help my 10 yrs old (5’0” and 100 lbs) develop the necessary skills to hit the ball hard into the outfield gap.
After performing some research, experiments, and looking at various tools, we started to use the Launch Angle Tee Adapter to work on learning to hit the ball at better launch angles. The table below shows my average launch angle when using a regular tee vs. the Launch Angle Tee Adapter during tee work.
|Average Launch Angle|
|Regular Tee||20.7 degrees|
|Launch Angle Tee Adapter||28.3 degrees|
The average launch angle was higher with the Launch Angle Tee Adapter, however, more importantly being able to see more of the ball helped eliminate the barrier of hitting the tee which allows us to work on hitting the ball consistently hard. The image below was from an experiment that my son and I performed to see how he would happen if he used the Launch Angle Tee adapter versus a regular tee. In the pictures below, the red dots represent the location of balls hit off a regular tee and the green dots represent those taken off the Launch Angle Tee adapter.
In our experience, what happened in that experiment can be summarized as follows; the Launch Angle Tee Adapter helped improve the average ball launch angle and he was hitting the ball in a more consistent manner while reducing the number of ground balls hit.
Once I was able to learn/understand how to hit the ball with a better launch angle, it was time to learn how to hit the ball hard. Now the focus was on how to create more ball exit speed while being able to maintain that average launch angle. After looking at different options, I decided to try the Rebel’s Rack, since it had a lot of drills and resources available to use. Based on the resources available at Baseball Rebellion, here is the daily movement routine that I started to follow when trying to learn (or reprogram myself) to hit the ball harder and farther using the Rebel’s Rack.
|Warm-up Turns||2 minutes|
|Hesitation Stride, Show & Go||4 minutes (2 min/side)|
|Resisted Turns||2 minutes (1 min/side)|
|Accelerated Turns||2 minutes (1 min/side)|
|Timing Drill||20 pitches (only on hitting days)|
Below is the summary of the improvements/results obtained so far by using the Rebel’s Rack. These measurements were obtained using HitTrax.
|Date||Avg. Velocity (MPH)||Max. Velocity (MPH)||Max. Distance (Feet)||LD %||FB %||GB %||Comment|
|4/29/2018||81.1||90.9||353||49||40||11||1st session after Rebel’s Rack|
It can be observed that the first hitting session after starting to use the Rebel’s Rack, there was an improvement in distance of 17 feet and maximum velocity of 2 mph. Overall, as of May 19th, the gains have now reached almost 30 feet in distance and 7 mph of maximum velocity. Also, it can be noticed that the ground ball percentage has gone down and stayed consistently down.
As it can be seen from the HitTrax data, the Rebel’s Rack in combination with the Launch Angle Tee Adapter have helped me achieve better and more consistent movement quality and therefore helped me improve my power as a hitter. Now I’m more confident that I can use the things that I have learned to help my son and other hitters develop into more consistent and powerful hitters.
In this week’s breakdown, I’m going to analyze the 4th overall pick in this year’s MLB draft, University of Louisville’s first baseman Brendan Mckay. I had the pleasure of watching Brendan play four times this year in person. I saw him play back in March against NC State and then again saw him play three times at this year’s College World Series. He is a finalist for this year’s Golden Spikes Award after batting .341 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. Any baseball person can tell you just by looking at his numbers, he is a very good hitter. I didn’t understand how good McKay was until I saw him in person. I strongly believe his patterns in his swing are going to allow for very similar success at the professional level.
Baseball Rebellion has been doing the Baseball Rebellion Home Run Derby Draft and Competition for 5 years! (since the 2012 MLB Home Run Derby). However, This will be the first year the Baseball Rebellion HR Derby Draft is not a head-to-head competition, but a 4-way battle between all 4 Hitting Instructors at Baseball Rebellion and I.T.S. Baseball, (Chas Pippitt, JK Whited, Gabe Dimock, & KC Judge).
Not only will this year’s HR Derby Competition be between 4 hitting guru’s, but this year’s draft will also be streamed live via, Periscope Video on Baseball Rebellion’s Twitter @BRrebellion! This means you can get involved, ask questions, and interact with the Baseball Rebellion Instructors as they draft their HR hitters, with real time explanations and commentary!
If you cant watch the live stream of the draft, It will also be recorded and then posted on BaseballRebellion.com following, so be sure to check it out before the draft starts and you can decide who you want to cheer for and who you think will win!
Then Monday Night During the MLB 2016 Home Run Derby, Baseball Rebellion will Periscope on Twitter, a few analysis and a live look in at the reactions throughout the derby. Then, the complete article and analysis of the Home Run Derby as well as the competition results will come out later that week!
Incase you missed any of the past few years, or want to see how the Baseball Rebellion MLB Home Run Derby Competition works, check out the past years, below.
The 2016 MLB Draft is starting tonight, Thursday June, 9th, and all of us here at Baseball Rebellion couldn’t be more excited. There is a large amount of talent in this class, and with some BRrebel’s potentially drafted tonight through Saturday, we are all anticipating a great next few days! In honor of the 2016 MLB Draft starting, Baseball Rebellion is writing this joint article, to break down some of our favorite swings, and pitching deliveries, as well as share some of our thoughts and insights on players / outcomes.
I’ve known Bo Bichette since November of 2015. Bo came in, he was quiet, but goodness gracious his bat was LOUD. The main things we worked on with Bo was his stride direction and his ability to adjust to off speed pitches. He evaluated at 99.9mph with wood off front toss and left with a 105.4mph exit speed which was the Baseball Rebellion HS record at the time. Bo’s brother, Dante Junior, is a Yankees Farmhand and a good friend. Dante Senior played for the Colorado Rockies for many years and almost won a triple crown. Bo Bichette has a chance to be the best of the bunch with his spectacular movement patterns and upward extension in his upper body, one of the toughest things for any HS hitter to support. His amazing lower half actions allow for tremendous power and adjustability which he showcased all year long in Florida, earning Gatorade Player of the Year in the state. From all of us at Baseball Rebellion, good luck Bo, we hope this day is one you remember fondly forever! Drafted Overall: 66th Round: 2nd Pick: 25
*I wanted to thank Bo Bichette for sending me his game footage. Always great to see what real players do in games vs highlights or HR derby settings.
In Baseball America’s latest 2016 MLB Mock Draft, Blake Rutherford is slated to be picked in the middle of the first round. Rutherford is a 6 foot 3, high school, outfielder who weighs in at 195 pounds and displays five-tool potential including the ability to hit for contact and power. In the video above, I explain why Rutherford’s hitting mechanics give him a great chance to realize his potential and meet the expectations set for him based on a likely 1st round draft pick and a lofty signing bonus. Drafted Overall: 18th Round: 1 Pick: 18
Jameson Fisher was called “the best hitter in college baseball” at least 5 times in the game I saw him play last weekend. From Southeastern Louisiana, Jameson just had himself a great Junior year, especially after a rough injury the year before. Fisher’s swing is well above the “college swing standard” and is a lot of fun to watch if admire smooth and powerful swings. His 11 home runs and 16 doubles are only overshadowed by his outstanding .424 batting average with only 31 strikeouts. Jameson’s upper body fluidity and timing is one of the more impressive moves I have seen out of a college hitter and his lower half mechanics are just as good. I really look forward to seeing where Jameson Fisher’s swing will take him in the next few years and hopefully the injury bug won’t follow him to the MLB. Drafted Overall: 116th Round: 4 Pick: 10
For my First Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown, I chose to analyze the hitting mechanics of 2016 MLB Draft prospect Gavin Lux, a HS middle infielder from Kenosha, WI. Gavin’s swing consists of very solid lower body mechanics, utilizing a sway back load then moving forward into a bent front leg. Another aspect in Gavin’s swing I like is the movement in his back elbow and how both elbows move/work together as he starts to accelerate the barrel.
Gavin Lux has a very high level swing, and while there is not much I would change, but “to be nit picky” he could do a better job with how his back foot moves. While his back foot does a great job moving up / pulled forward, it doesn’t move forward enough, leading him to finish on the outside of his pinky toe. If his back foot moved forward a little more, he wouldn’t finish on the outside of his foot.
*I wanted to take this time to thank Gavin for sending us this video. Candid video is very cool to break down, and I really appreciate him sending Chas and Baseball Rebellion the video so we could take a look at it.
All in all Gavin Lux has many, very high-level qualities in his swing and I’m looking forward to watching him play in the future. Good luck in the draft Gavin! Drafted Overall: 20th Round: 1 Pick: 20
In my 2016 MLB Draft Pitching Breakdown I chose to look at the pitching mechanics of Prospects Riley Pint (HS Senior from St. Thomas Aquinas, KS) and Justin Dunn (Junior at Boston College) “my alma mater!” As two of the top pitchers in this years draft, I wanted to compare the similarities and differences in their deliveries. As you will see in the video above, I really like Pint’s upper half and Dunn’s lower half. Due to his mechanical advantage, I believe Justin Dunn will have more success and will experience less arm trouble, however both will be offered huge contracts and have a big decision ahead of them. I wish both guys good luck in the 2016 MLB Draft and their playing future! Id love to help either of these guys and hope they can make the changes I address in the breakdown to help make them the most dominant and durable pitchers in the draft! Riley Pint – Drafted Overall: 4th Round: 1 Pick: 4 / Justin Dunn – Drafted Overall: 19th Round: 1 Pick: 19
I also did a Pitching Breakdown on 2016 MLB Draft Prospect AJ Puk Last week! Click Here to Watch the Breakdown!
Stay Tuned for updates to the article with outcomes and recaps of the Draft and Tweet at us @BRrebellion during the draft any questions or thoughts you may have about or breakdowns or the actions that unfold. Also Tweet at us if you see any hitters or pitchers you would be interested in us breaking down in the future! #JoinTheRebellion #BaseballRebellion #MLBDraft