Piechota And McDonald Sign With Pirates
Within a period of about six weeks, we have seen the DVS System have a tremendous impact on the health and performance of a large group of players within the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL). Two players, in particular, were able to translate their improvements to the field at an exceptionally high level, which led to them being signed by an affiliated organization. On Sunday, July 3rd, Evan Piechota and Chris McDonald, each received a call from the Pittsburgh Pirates informing them that their contract had been purchased from the USPBL. With both of them getting ready for their Minor League debut, we wanted to write a quick post highlighting their success in the USPBL, and the changes they made that allowed them to advance to the next level.
Evan had the greatest fastball command in the USPBL. With over 30 IP and just one walk, he showcased the ability to truly pitch with his fastball in any count during any situation. He featured an average change-up and breaking ball, but the breaking ball started to have better spin and later depth as his fastball velocity increased in the last four weeks. Evan worked quick and maintained good composure and rhythm between pitches, and was able to sustain that in situations with runners in scoring position.
Throughout most of his collegiate career, Evan’s average fastball velocity was between 84-86, while topping out at 88. These numbers weren't much different from his initial velocity readings upon joining the league, with an average ball velocity of 85.5 and a max of 87. However, after gaining a better understanding of how to accelerate his entire upper torso together into the throw, and allow his body to decelerate better, he saw a dramatic increase in velocity in a short period. His average ball velocity jumped to 88.1, and his max velocity climbed to 91. That's about a 1.5mph increase on his average fastball and a 4mph on his max fastball in no more than six weeks time. With that being said, Evan still has room for velocity growth. In his last outing before being signed, he showed the ability to throw six to seven pitches in a row at 90. As his understanding of his delivery improves, his ability to repeat and maximize the acceleration of his trunk should continue to improve, as will his average fastball velocity.
As a product of the System, Evan also showed significant improvements in the functionality of his throwing shoulder. By improving muscle function and restoring the natural range-of-motion (ROM) within the shoulder, a thrower can receive not only health benefits, but performance gains as well. Since his first week at spring training, Evan's ROM improved nearly 6º on average, and his Total Arm Motion Difference between each shoulder improved on average from -7.5º to -1º. This trend essentially reduced his likelihood of injury by 150%, and allowed his arm to perform at a higher level.
McDonald is a true competitor on the mound and rarely gets rattled. He maintains his composure and exemplifies the ability to make big pitches in big situations. He has an “extra” gear when he needs it to finish off a hitter. Chris excels at keeping hitters off balance by using his above average change and sinking fastball.
Since entering the USPBL, McDonald relied heavily on his changeup. We taught him the importance of establishing his fastball command, and he has proven to himself that he can use his fastball to get outs and keep his pitch count down. Also, similarly to Piechota, McDonald saw significant gains in his fastball velocity by understanding how to better manipulate his 6'5'' frame to his advantage. His average fastball velocity went from 85.6 to 88.6, and his max climbed from 88.6 to 93. Once again, that's about a 3mph jump on his average fastball and slightly more than a 4mph increase on his max fastball, in no more than six weeks.
Going forward, McDonald has the potential to raise his velocity ceiling by incorporating the proper mechanical adjustments. There are still significant inefficiencies present within his delivery that negatively impact his timing and energy transfer, which in turn effect velocity. However, these are all adjustments that can be made with time and hard work.
Also, much like Piechota, McDonald was able to reap the benefits of the DVS System by improving his ROM by 8º on average since the first week of camp. He also saw his Total Arm Motion Difference improve on average from -7º to 1º, which has reduced his overall likelihood of injury by 150%, and led to better performance output.
We wish the best of luck to Evan and Chris as they embark on their new journey into affiliated baseball. Our advice to these guys, as it would be to any young, aspiring player..."focus on mechanical efficiency, repeatability, and joint health, and as a product of those, you will find confidence, velocity, and success."