Michael Wacha: 5 Tips for A Young Pitcher

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by: David Driver

1. It may be a good idea to wait a few years before throwing a curveball. “I started throwing offspeed pitches my junior year of high school. I was about 16 and until then my dad never really let me throw a curve or slider,” Wacha said.

2. The ability to throw a fastball is the best way to get started for a young pitcher. “I was a fastball and changeup guy growing up,” Wacha said. “At that age a curve and slider can be very harsh on your arm and elbow. You need to be careful."

3. The changeup can be a very effective pitch at any age and it is not strenuous on the arm like a curve and slider. “It is a great pitch,” he said of the change. “I think it is one of the best in baseball. The key is to keep the same arm speed. You want to have the same arm speed as a fastball; maybe the grip is a little bit tighter. I really do believe it is the best pitch in baseball.”

4. A pitcher that backs up bases can help himself and the team. “It can save you games and it can save your ERA as well,” Wacha said. “If hitters know you can’t field your position they are going to bunt against you. It is hard to do sometimes because a lot of times it is after giving up a double or triple. You have to take it upon yourself to do it. It is not only your runs but the team’s runs.”

5. Sometimes a pitcher has to alert his catcher, or the infielders, where the ball is, such as on popups and balls he has thrown in the dirt. “I think it is very important (to do) with popups and passed balls,” Wacha said. “It can be rough for a catcher to see it off the bat. Just point to the ball or if you need to verbally let him know where the ball is."

Fun Facts About Wacha

  • Wacha was born in Iowa, but he grew up in Texas.
  • His uncle, Dusty Rogers, played in the Cincinnati Reds farm system.
  • His brother, Lucas, played linebacker for the University of Wyoming.
  • His first academic all-state honor in Texas was for basketball, not baseball.
  • Wacha played college baseball at Texas A&M and posted a career record of 27-7.
  • He was drafted in the first round as the 19th pick overall in 2012 by the St. Louis Cardinals.

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