Ole Miss head baseball coach Mike Bianco had an interesting take on changeups prior to Monday’s practice at Oxford-University Stadium.
When asked about tonight’s starter, David Goforth, and if it’s typical for changeups to take a while to perfect, Bianco gave those in attendance his philosophy on why more pitchers don’t have “great” changeups.
“Some people pitch their whole life and don’t have a changeup. It’s not a hard one to fundamentally teach, but it’s a hard one for pitchers to grasp. It takes a lot of touch and feel. And I don’t know why. If we knew why, more people would have great changeups. You’ve heard people say that the changeup is the best pitch in baseball. I don’t know if I would say that, but it’s certainly an effective pitch. One of the reasons — and this is not necessarily about David, but my opinion on baseball — people grow up their whole life trying to throw harder. And so when you’re a young kid, the only thing you want to learn besides throwing it hard is to throw something that breaks. Like my little kids, they don’t want to throw a changeup. They don’t want to throw something slower, they want to throw it faster and make it break. (The changeup) is not an attractive pitch. It’s not as seductive as the hard fastball or the hard slider or split-finger ball or knuckleball. Changeups are boring as you grow up, but when you get older and become a senior in high school and college, you start figuring that it can be useful. You watch guys with good changeups and wow, they can be very effective.”
Bianco has a point. Who wants to throw SLOWER when they’re growing up learning the game? I don’t recall asking any of my coaches to help me throw slower — granted, in Little League I wasn’t exactly well educated in the strategy that goes into pitching, and setting up other pitches. Heck, I’m still learning. All I wanted to do was rear back, whiz it over the plate. I also wanted to learn the different grips of the crazy pitches: sliders, knuckleball, split-finger and especially the curve ball. In short, I buy into what Bianco said. No one grows up wondering how they can make batters respect their fastball more.
With regards to Goforth, who is attempting to slowly add a changeup to his arsenal of pitches, Bianco said it’s still a work in progress but it’s coming along.
“I think it’s going to continue to improve, but I think the breaking ball is an awfully big key for him,” Bianco said. “When he can get one or two of the other pitches into the strike zone more often and to where the other team has to defend against them, it makes that great fastball even more effective.”
The changeup began the season as a “bullpen pitch” for Goforth, but as the season has progressed, he’s began to work it into games more and more. And while it’s not a go-to pitch just yet, he said he’s satisfied with how it’s coming along.
“I actually threw two on Sunday (against Florida) and they were both strikes, down in the zone, so I felt good about that,” he said on Monday.
RANKING THE REBELS: After sweeping mid-week opponents Southern Miss (11-6) and Saint Louis (14-5) and then taking two (3-2, 15-3) of three (13-1) from Florida, the Rebels find themselves climbing several of the national polls by leaps and bounds.
In Collegiate Baseball, the Rebels bounded up from No. 17 to 11 this week, one spot ahead of Florida. Baseball America also has Ole Miss at No. 11, up from no. 18. The National College Baseball Writers Association has the Rebels at No. 14, after spending the previous week at No. 19. Rounding out the rankings, the USAToday Baseball Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll has Ole Miss slated as the 14th-best team, up from No. 18.
YARBROUGH HONORED: Ole Miss freshman second baseman Alex Yarbrough was named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Week on Monday.
The Allen, Texas, native posted four multiple-hit games on the week and hit .450 for the week with a .550 slugging percentage and .520 on-base percentage.
Yarbrough has really helped to solidify the Rebels’ infield this season. With his emergence at second base, it’s allowed Zach Miller to man the hot corner for the Rebels, which has also give the Rebels’ defense a big boost.
Not only has Yarbrough been useful on defense, he’s also proven to be versatile in the batting order, batting anywhere in the order from first and second to sixth and seventh.
COMMITS, SIGNEES, RECRUITS — OH MY: This has been a long time coming, but hopefully over the next couple of days I’ll be compiling a complete baseball commit/signee list on The Blog from which I’ll update on how their high school (and Junior College) seasons are going. Just wanted to give y’all a heads up on that. (March 30, 2010)