Performing well in the game of baseball is not about being perfect. In a game of failure, success is measured completely different than any other sport, and perfection is rarely reached at any position. Occasionally, a player gets in that "zone" and does some special things.
Pierce Ingram pulled off the 1st Perfect Bullpen in the Pitching Program, a program unlike any other...pitchers spend a lot of time pinpointing their location. Started last Fall, Avery Johnson and Alex Gunn designed a program that goes beyond throwing hard and throwing strikes. Rather, each player finds his comfort zone with proper mechanics and mental approach, and attack locations. And Pierce Ingram is definitely getting it. 3 1/2 months into the program, Pierce brought his accuracy up from 30-50% to 60-80% consistently.
Pitching with confidence, Pierce recorded a perfect 100% accuracy for his entire bullpen on his last visit - which includes fastball and change up locations in every quadrant of the plate...and he also recorded his highest velocity in the process.
Congratulations to Pierce Ingram. A Perfect Bullpen is almost impossible. Almost.
May is here and tournament baseball is in full swing after a wet April that saw tournaments either cancelled or shorten due to inclement weather. The P360 Pitching Program is at full capacity as the team is readying another instructor to increase capacity and add more players to the roster.
While all players in the program are seeing success on the mound, today's Spotlight Player is William Harris, who threw a complete game no-hitter over the weekend.
Harris started the game Saturday afternoon, taking the mound against the Mississippi Flood pool play. The game started with a fly out to center field before walking the next batter - picked off at 2nd after stealing the base. The next pitch was strike three to end the inning. After starting the next inning with a walk and hitting a batter, Harris picked off another runner at 2nd before recording another strike out. A ground ball to 2B ended the inning. For the third inning, a ground out to start the inning was followed by two more strikeouts to end the game, with the Sox winning 13-0. For Harris, he pitched 3.0 innings, with 4 K's and no hits... a complete game no-hitter. He pitched another 2/3 innings in the championship game on Sunday, coming in with one out in the last inning with a 3 run lead and a runner on base. After walking the first batter he faced, he induced a ground out to end the game after a runner was thrown out at the plate attempting to steal home. The Sox won the tournament 6-3.
New to the Pitching Program, Harris saw an almost immediate improvement in his bullpen sessions, and took it to the field. He will continue the work in his program, which provide a unique method to learn the art of pitching, designed by Avery Johnson and Alex Gunn. For more information just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Program Player Notes...
Matthew Birdsong continues rolling, with 22 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched for EC Sox 14U Elite. He has an ERA of 3.70 and an average pitches per batter of only 3.61.
Davis Torrey continues to improve after adding 7 MPH on his fastball. He has now recorded 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of work, with pitches per batter faced down to 3.59 pitches per at bat. His command is improving, with his First Pitch Strike rate now above 50% and an FIP of 3.058.
Cooper Griffin has seen a 4 MPH improvement on his fastball, pitching 3 innings this weekend and recording 5 strikeouts.
Biven Patterson pitched 3.1 innings recording 8 strikeouts over the weekend.
Alex and Avery continue to see results on the field as Sox teams play this Spring. The EC Sox 14U Elite AAA team coached by Gerard Gibert played in Baton Rouge over the weekend, and Pitching Program member Matthew Birdsong put on a show. "Birdy joined us last Fall and I immediately noticed that he is a smart player. He has a plan when he pitches but he was a little raw. I could tell he had an idea about what he wanted to do but didn't always know how to do that", stated Coach Gibert. In the Fall Birdsong pitched 12 innings and led the team in strikeouts with 12, and was second behind Caleb Thompson with an ERA of 3.5.
He started the program in November but had to take some time off due to some arm strain, and really started going in January. Six weeks ago he was averaging 70 MPH on his fastball, with accuracy rates around 40-50%. Three weeks ago his change up and curve ball were added to the mix, and his rates had increased to 70% consistently, and his velocity had added 4 MPH. His last session before playing his first game of the season: 80% across the board in every location, and a fast ball that averages 74.33. Sounds great, but was he game ready?
Over the weekend in Baton Rouge, Matthew tossed 7.0 innings. He threw 73 pitches to 24 batters, 67% of those strikes, for an astounding rate of only 3.042 pitches per batter, and just over 10 pitches per inning. His First Pitch Strike rate was 54.2%, and he struck out 92.3% of those batters, 8 strikes outs for the weekend against only one walk. He retired every lead off batter he faced, and 4 times got the first two batters out. He had two 123 innings, giving up only 2 hits and 0 runs. It looks like he was game ready.
"Fun to watch". That's how Avery Johnson, who assists Gibert with the team, described the weekend watching "Birdy" take the mound in his two starts. "Not surprised" was Alex Gunn's impression when seeing the results in a game setting. "Every pitcher in our program has shown improvement, so they are getting it. More importantly that improvement is showing up on the mound," finished Gunn when talking about the kids that are participating in the P360 Pitching Program.
The Spring season has kicked off, and some of our Pitching Program members have taken the mound after a few months of preparation. To understand, the program is NOT pitching lessons - it is a complete training program that includes arm and body prep, mental approach, mechanical and physical training. The measurable data that we collect aids in making adjustments over the course of the program.
Cooper Griffin, a member of the EC Sox 10U team coached by Blaine Adams, has completed 3 months of pitching training. When he started, he was throwing pretty hard for his age, but his accuracy was suffering...and so was his confidence. His first month saw his average velocity continue to climb, and his accuracy stay about the same.
His instructor, Avery Johnson, recognized what was going on. "He was over throwing the ball, trying to light up the radar gun. And he had no confidence, because he didn't know where it was going to go, and neither did I", commented Avery. "We started working on that in the 2nd month."
The next two weeks saw him come apart. His velocity started coming down, and his accuracy tanked. He was learning things he had never done before, but he accepted the instruction and believed what he was being taught.
And then it clicked.
After those first two weeks of the 2nd month, it all started coming together. His velocity settled in, about 2 mph lower than when he started - and his accuracy exploded. His accuracy rate moved from 20% to 80%. This is not a strike rate - it is a measurement of hitting very specific locations. His strike rate was even better.
Cooper's late January and early February results have continued to be off the charts, and his mental approach was getting solid. Can he take it to the mound on game day? "I told Blaine he was ready after the first week in February", Avery continued, "and he was ready."
Blaine Adam's team opened the season this weekend, and Cooper did take the mound, starting the opening game on Saturday against the Southern Reapers. He gave up a couple of earned runs, but his confidence stayed strong, with First Pitch Strikes to 8 of the 10 batters he faced and 3.7 pitches per batter. He was called upon on Sunday morning in relief, taking the mound with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs. "He knows he has one job right there," says Avery, "and he did his job." Cooper threw 3 consecutive strikes, inducing a ground ball out and getting out of the inning. To start the season, Cooper has thrown 2.1 innings, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits. He has faced 11 batters with 40 pitches, 22 for strikes (55%). His First Pitch Strike rate is 81.8%, with batters hitting just .250 against him.
Instructor Avery Johnson continued, "His dad told me that he is a different pitcher, and that's what I want to hear. It makes the hard work worth it, and I can't wait to see him next week and give him a big hug. Or maybe he's too cool now for a hug, so maybe a fist bump."