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For the better part of half a year, I have got to know and work with a nine-year Minor League pitcher named Seth Simmons. In October of 2018, he messaged Baseball Rebellions twitter account asking what we offer for pitchers. I texted him back telling him in a nutshell what we had to work with.
Needless to say, the pitching Baseball Rebellion pitching program has enhanced in the last six months with Seth here. In this case study, I will go over the things we worked this off-season and it all started with a social media text. Here is the first conversation we had over Twitter.
Seth is from Lewisville, North Carolina. He graduated from Calvary Baptist Day School in Winston Salem, NC. Seth attended East Carolina University where he was a star closer for the pirates from 2008-2011. As a senior, Simmons had a 2.78 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings pitched.
The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Simmons in the 40th round of the 2011 MLB draft. Seth has impressive stats throughout his minor league career. He has 500 innings pitched with a 2.94 era with over 570 strikeouts.
Simmons was named to the United States National team for the 2015 WBC Premier 12. Premier 12 was an international baseball championship that was held in Taiwan and Japan.
Seth got released by the Diamondbacks in 2016, where he signed with the San Diego Padres and was assigned to the San Antonio class AA. He became a free agent after the 2018 season. This season he will join fellow ECU teammate and pitcher Seth Maness in the Atlantic League where he will be a starter for the High Point Rocker's.
The videos above are of Seth Simmons evaluation. I met Seth on October 22, 2018, where we talked a little before we got into the evaluation. He seemed a little skeptical at first about some of the concepts that we teach. He has been done other throwing programs in the past and had his own point of views, which I was fine with.
Being in a minor league organization myself, I have seen many different types of athletes. Seth showed up at 5'8" 190 pounds, a headband, spandex, and two different socks on. My impression of him was less than stellar. Never judge a book by its cover.
Seth went through the evaluation with open ears and full of questions. This was one of the first times working with a pro athlete so I tried not to stumble on my words. We slowed his video down and went over the movements with a fine tooth comb. What we saw was that Seth could use his lower half more efficiently, change his posture into front foot strike sooner, and brace up his front leg better. So that is exactly what we worked on!!
The work that Seth put in this offseason is second to none. I knew from day one that it was going to interesting and fun to work with him. The reason I say interesting is that right away Seth came off as very analytical. Which a lot of professional pitchers are stuck in their ways.
We meshed together well while going through each phase of the pitching progression even when he tried to sabotage his own lesson. He did a few reps bad on purpose to see if I would catch it and correct him. I did not catch it because he is a professional athlete and does not net constant reinforcement. We talked about the situation and moved forward where he trusted me completely.
I put together a little video of the phases we worked on and how Seth improved his movement quality.
When we talk about pitch design two things come to my mind. How can we FEEL the repetitive delivery to create a TUNNEL for the arm slot and release point? The answer is technology. For Seth, we wanted to make his 2-seam fastball and a changeup come out of the same tunnel.
We used Rapsodo Pitch unit to measure spin direction along with horizontal and vertical break to get the two pitches to mimic each other. The only big difference between the two is speed. This is devastating to a batter when seeing the same pitch out of the hand in the same place, but 8mph different.
The layover shows the same release point with similar spin out of the hand. What is so tough for hitters is where the two pitch's start and end. The 2-seam runs and stays inside, while the changeup dips low away to a lefty.
Seth made an unbelievable amount of progress this offseason. These are just the physical changes he has made. More importantly, he is away with a far more superior mental approach to pitching. Getting over an injury such a totally torn UCL and going through Tommy John Surgery is one of the hardest things to overcome by an athlete. I got to interview Seth on his last day here, his answers speak for his work ethic.
"After my last season, I was pretty lost mechanically. It was causing a lot of problems with my ability to recover as well as my actual effectiveness on the mound. So I was willing to try just about anything to get back to the pitcher I was prior to having Tommy John surgery."
"When I first walked in the door I was blown away by the facility. Absolutely top notch. The environment created by the staff is second to none and that is also amplified by the people that train here. From 8-year-olds to pro guys, there is a complete buy into the philosophies that are preached at Baseball Rebellion."
"At first, it can seem like a complete revamp of your movements and abilities. But the philosophy here is to build on what you do well and clean up areas that you were missing or were taught wrong. Trusting the process and attention to detail is how they approached helping me, and it worked above and beyond what I imagined. The movements you learn become your movements and your delivery there isn’t a cookie cutting philosophy here."
"There is an abundance of tools to use at Baseball Rebellion to help me become a better pitcher. We used slow-motion cameras to study my delivery, as well as K-Vest to get a better look at all of my movements in my delivery. We also used these cameras to show action on pitches to help me tunnel all my pitches at an elite level. Along with that, we used Rapsodo to track data to know how my pitches leave my hand and how they should be used in competition."
"I would recommend Baseball Rebellion to anyone for the reason that hitting or pitching no one is a finished product. To become the best version of yourself it takes time and effort. The staff at Baseball Rebellion gives you all the tools you need to progress in your playing career and they treat every player no matter what age the same way. The staff at BR cares so much about the individual that when you hit certain goals it is like they achieved it as well. They invest in the player and that to me matters the most."
"Today I feel like I’m the best version of me that I have ever been. I have also learned to self-correct faster and make better in-game adjustments. The guessing game is out the window and everything I have learned here will translate throughout the season regardless of stats."