Max is a 6′ 8″ right hander with nearly unlimited potential. We have worked with Max since he was in high school and have seen him continually improve. Max was successful at every amateur level he played. After college Max was drafted in the third round and has continued his success in rookie, A and AA baseball. We expect him to pitch in the major leagues soon. These pictures were taken in 2016 when Max was in A ball.
Here you see Max with a good solid leg lift and a quick move to gain upward hip and shoulder tilt. You should also notice that Max starts over-closed with his upper and lower body and the heel leads the stride foot toward home. He separates his hands as his stride knee falls which is later than we would like and the late separation of the hands causes issues later in the delivery.
These three pictures show the nice long reverse arm swing with the tilt maintained and the heel continuing to lead the stride. The lead elbow is being used as his “rifle sight” and his weight is clearly being held back as he moves down the mound.
These pictures show the long arm swing continues to where the elbow is even with the shoulder line. In the third picture the front hip starts to open at the end of the stride to cause the foot to land. The reason to put cause in italics is to emphasize that the throwing action starts with the lead hip opening. The tilt is maintained throughout the stride and that is a key to throwing hard.
These pictures show that the arm is just a little late getting up in position with the ball above the head. We would like to see Max have the baseball above the head between the second and the third picture, when his stride foot is planting. Max has great vertical upper body position throughout the stride to utilize his height and has kept his eyes on the target from the start. If his arm were up sooner he could better use his height by getting to the release point with the upper body vertical.
The first picture here shows that Max has now achieved the desired baseball above the head position with the elbow bent greater than 90 degrees. In the second picture he is approximately 45 degrees into external rotation in the shoulder and by the third picture he is nearing full external rotation. This timing is very subtle, but we would like for Max to be in full external rotation in the second picture, but because he was just a little late breaking his hands to start the reverse swing, he is a little late here.
In the first picture Max is in full external rotation but we would like to see Max at full extension of the arm and releasing the baseball since his upper body is at the peak rotational speed. Because he is still in full external rotation he will not match his maximum arm speed to the maximum upper body rotational speed. You can see in the third picture that Max is at release, but his shoulders are basically in the same rotational position for all three pictures. This means rotation has essentially stopped.
In the first and second pictures you can see that Max is bending his upper body forward to add upper body linear velocity. As we have said previously, linear upper body velocity is typically less than rotational velocity and coupled with that fact, folding causes Max to reduce his effective height at release. It’s important to understand that the slightly late breaking of the hands causes a different type release than desired. For Max, the difference in an ideally timed rotational release and the late, bending release is the difference in pitching at 91-93 versus 97-98. Both get guys out, but at 97-98 Max can be completely dominant.
These pictures after release show that the knee of the stride foot remains bent throughout the deceleration of the arm until the hand gets outside the stride foot knee. This is very good and allows a long path for deceleration of the arm outside the stride foot knee.