CS #5: 2016 USPBL Tryout

cs #5: 2016 uspbl tryout

 

introduction

 Tryout hopeful throwing in front of coaches

Tryout hopeful throwing in front of coaches

In its inaugural year, The United Shore Professional Baseball League had 76 pitchers travel from across the country to tryout for an opportunity to play professional baseball. The many hopefuls are a selection of former college and professional pitchers looking to fine tune their skills to potentially be signed by an affiliated organization.  We saw some talented arms, some not so talented, but mostly we observed a large group of pitchers with similar ability trying to stay afloat. Jeff Seidel, columnist for the Detroit Free Press writes in a recent article "it is the land of in-between. A place for the guys who have slipped between the cracks. Maybe they weren’t tall enough to get drafted, or fast enough, or they just didn’t impress the right person at the right time. Maybe they had an injury. Or maybe they were late bloomers or played out of position in college." All true and from our conversations with many of the players, many of them are just unaware of what affiliated scouts are looking for and misguided on how to distinguish themselves from the pack.

 

methods

DVS SCORE ANALYSIS

Video analysis was conducted on all pitchers. To obtain video, the camera was set at pelvis-height to ensure consistency, and each pitcher was filmed from both the back and side angles. During the filming process, each pitcher was instructed to throw all fastballs at 100% intensity, and three pitches were captured from both the back and side angles. Once video collection was complete, all video was uploaded into a video analysis software (PowerChalk) in order to compute each pitcher's DVS Score. 

Prior to high-intensity throwing, each pitcher was instructed to warm-up and throw as much as necessary until they felt ready to perform. Once ready, each pitcher performed several high-intensity throws off a mound prior to any video collection. 

SHOULDER ROM ANALYSIS

Passive ROM measurements were recorded using a digital inclinometer for shoulder Total Arc Motion (TAM), Internal Rotation (IR), and External Rotation (ER) on both the throwing and non-throwing arms. For each shoulder, the limb was moved passively in each direction until maximal motion occurred. In order to ensure each shoulder achieved its full range of motion, the examiner used a combination of capsular end-feel and visualization of compensatory movement. The humeral head was not stabilized in order to allow for natural shoulder motion to occur. For each measurement of internal rotation and external rotation, the scapula was securely stabilized on the table. All measurements were taken at rest prior to any throwing.

 

RESULTS

Every pitcher who participated in the tryout phase underwent DVS Risk Analysis and had their shoulder range-of-motion patterns evaluated before any high intensity throwing. The results are outlined below:

DVS SCORE ANALYSIS

The average DVS Score among Major League pitchers, 2016 Top 50 draft-eligible pitchers, and 2015 College World Series pitchers is between 12 and 13. In our current tryout group, almost half of the pitchers received a DVS Score of 12 or below, while 87% received a DVS Score of 15 and below. However, we were encouraged to find a few pitchers to receive a DVS Score of 20, and several between 16 and 19. 

SHOULDER ROM ANALYSIS

The graph below shows the Dominant Total Arc Motion Deficit (DTAMD) measurements taken on 76 pitchers at the tryout. Of the 76, approximately 45% expressed patterns that significantly increased their likelihood of sustaining a throwing-related injury. For more information regarding DTAMD, in addition to other injurious ROM patterns that arise in baseball players, click here

 

discussion

How do the numbers above translate to the evaluation of future performance? Well, you can't perform if you aren't available. The graph to the right indicates the % likelihood a pitcher will get hurt in the next "x" number of innings. In this case, the starting point assumes the pitcher has already accumulated 500 innings in their career.  

If you had two seemingly identical pitchers in terms of size, ability, and velocity, and had to sign a player to a contract, knowing his relative risk of injury (DVS Score) could help an organization make a wiser investment.  Look at the stark contrast in % likelihood to get injured in the next 1000 innings between a pitcher with a DVS Score of 6 and a pitcher with a DVS Score of 18. It's almost guaranteed that the pitcher with a DVS Score of 6 (90% chance) is going to get hurt before he accumulates 1000 innings, compared to a 40% chance for the pitcher who has a DVS Score of 18.

HIGHEST DVS SCORES AMONG FORMER POSITION PLAYERS

 Former position player Jalen Miller strikes a batter out during a simulated game

Former position player Jalen Miller strikes a batter out during a simulated game

Three former position players converted into pitchers within the last two years received DVS Scores of 20, 19, and 18, respectively. In our conversations with all three pitchers, we learned all three had little to no training on pitching mechanics. One pitcher said "I kind of just taught myself, no one has really told me what I should and shouldn't do." 

A potential takeaway to consider is since all three pitchers were former position players, were they able to avoid the bad instruction and misguided information surrounding the pitching delivery throughout much of their youth? We now know by examining many cross sections of the baseball community, the vast majority of pitchers score between a 12 and 13. How did three former position players in the same tryout all score well above the range? We will continue to monitor in future studies.

THROWING HISTORY SURVEY

To learn more about our sample group, we had all pitchers and position players fill out a questionnaire to gain further information regarding injury history, goals, and training regimens. The questions were as follows:

  1. If you ever had a throwing related injury? If so, what injury?

    • Of the pitchers surveyed, approximately 43% reported having sustained at least one throwing-related injury in their careers. 

  2. Have you ever had surgery on your throwing shoulder or elbow?

    • Of the pitchers surveyed, approximately 27% reported having undergone at least one surgery in their careers.

  3. Have you used Long Toss or Weighted balls as a way to increase your throwing velocity?

    • Of the pitchers surveyed, approximately 95% reported having regularly used either weighted balls or long toss in their training regimens.  

If those aren't alarming enough, perhaps the most disturbing take-away was that of all the pitchers that have endured an injury, a surgery, or both, 96% of them incorporated the use of long toss and weighted balls. 

 

conclusion

All in all, the USPBL will have plenty of talented pitchers to develop over the course of the season. Many of the players come from various backgrounds and experiences, but they all have one thing in common; they are at the end of the line and need to make adjustments to get better. From the two weeks we have been here in Utica, this group seems eager to learn and begin the process to extend their careers. 

In baseball, there is a fine line between the player who gets an opportunity to play affiliated baseball and the player who "slips through the cracks". Our goal, and the goal of the USPBL, is to develop the skills of the players who have the ability, but for some reason, just missed the MLB Draft.

It's amazing when a player learns he's capable of more, but more importantly, he begins to believe it and see the changes. We already have witnessed a few pitchers make tremendous strides in less than a week. As the season unfolds, we will continue to document the changes particular pitchers have made in order to enhance the longevity and success of their career.

Thanks,

-JO