On the same day the 2012 World Series wrapped up, my amateur baseball season came to a close. My fall ball team – the Cardinals – lost in the championship game in a rout, 12-1. I contributed to the loss by booting an easy double play ball at third and later overthrowing first at the pivot at second base which allowed a runner circling third to score.
However, this season was mostly positive for me on an individual level. In my PSSBL season, I led the team in batting average (.500, 10th in the division) and innings pitched (62.0, 5th in the division) with a 5.37 ERA (league ERA is probably quite a bit higher than that, though I’m not gonna crunch the numbers). I also recorded 54 PAs without striking out once (six walks), but my production at the plate was mostly empty, only hitting three extra base hits (all doubles) over 24 hits. While the Rocky division has pitchers that would struggle to make HS varsity teams, when I played in the Adams division (competition much better), I still hit .500 over four games with my old team, including a pair of doubles.
In my other summer league – Seattle City League, White Sox – I hit close to .500 (don’t have my official stats) with way more power, hitting my first home run of the year off a Pierce CC pitcher at Steve Cox Field. I also recorded what has to be my first career triple at a field with no fences (hit a liner into RCF), though I may have hit one or two 100 pounds and 14 years ago (doubtful, I was a godawful hitter when younger). I threw about 20 innings of unremarkable baseball, putting together mostly good outings and no blowups that I can recall.
In the fall league – Cardinals – I hit just above .500 with my second home run of the year off a former JC pitcher at Interlake HS, along with a bunch of doubles. My power improved significantly when I made a few tweaks to my swing and took a slightly different approach than I had at the beginning of the year. I led our team in innings pitched with 23, with my season-high appearance of innings in an appearance when I started against the PSSBL Cascade Dodgers + Rocky Blue Rocks team, throwing 8 innings and picking up the win.
So, overall, I hit just about .500 with the same amount of power I had in 2010 (three HR, a bunch of doubles – 2011 I had my back injury which really impaired my swing). I can definitely say I’m improving as a hitter at a reasonable pace. Pitching-wise, I had a good year, setting a career high in innings pitched, but my velocity was very inconsistent. Prior to the PSSBL season, my teammates came to watch a bullpen session of mine and were astounded at how much velocity I had added between 2011 and 2012. I was routinely throwing pulldowns in my long toss / high-intensity sessions at 80-81 MPH and was consistently 77-79 MPH off the mound. As a heavily-leaned on starter (and reliever) for the PSSBL Mariners, my velocity dipped as I paced myself through long starts – an average 6 inning appearance would have me at 110+ pitches easily – and I made unconscious mechanical changes as a result. I also wavered between a curve ball and a slider, and didn’t consistently throw my sinker for strikes until fall ball.
My first appearance with the fall ball Cardinals was better, coming in as a setup man and striking out two batters in my first inning, then getting all three batters to weakly ground out in the second inning of work. However, I was not consistent with my arm care / arm strengthening program, and my velocity dipped and my arm was sore at times – though I never skipped a start or was unavailable in the bullpen, I had to come out of games early from time to time.
In 2013, I’d like to hit 85 MPH in a pulldown throw and consistently be 77-79 MPH off a mound. I think these are attainable goals, and while I’d like to consistently be 80-81 MPH off a mound, that might be shooting a little high. To achieve these goals, I need to be throwing on a regular basis, and fortunately for me, I’ll be working at RIPS Baseball (Tukwila, WA) as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at least four days per week with unlimited access to the cages/gym, so if I don’t achieve my goals, it won’t be because of lack of opportunity.
I need to evaluate where I’ll be playing next year. While my stats imply I’m a well above-average hitter, I am not there as a pitcher yet, and it is my first love. As such, I might need to return to the Rocky division to get enough innings on the hill, though I would love to compete at the Adams or Cascade level. We’ll see how it all shakes out as the off-season progresses. Speaking of, I can’t wait to get back in the gym and start training on a regular schedule again. Playing the games is fun and all, but nothing beats training and getting better…