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Report From The Fort: Plenty Of Heat

Given the temperature in the Twin Cities on Sunday, I won’t discuss the meteorological details of the perfectly beautiful afternoon at Hammond Stadium.

That said, on Minnesota Day, when the temperatures of the two locales were compared on the big screen, the crowd roared with approval at the almost 90 degree swing.

Here are some piping hot notes from Fort Myers...
Image courtesy of Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
With the exception of a two-run blast off the bat of Andrew Romaine, Jose Berrios’ fourth spring training start went according to plan. The right-hander registered 96 on several pitches, a factor that Berrios attributes to some of the mechanical cues Wes Johnson has given him.

“Beginning working on mechanics, said Berrios. “To be closed in my chest and be more into my heel.”

Berrios was referring to having more of the foot pushing down through the ground. Driving from the heel is one of Johnson’s tenets to increasing velocity. Pitchers who go to their toe early in their delivery will disrupt the kinetic chain. Focusing on going down the mound from the heel can add several ticks to his velocity.

After averaging 93.2 in 2018, a few more mph's couldn’t hurt.

In addition to his mechanics, Berrios was also working on getting a feel for his changeup, something that was also encouraged by the staff. Once considered a plus-pitch, Berrios’ changeup was hit hard in 2018 (which may stem from pitch tipping) but carried a 30% whiff rate per Statcast. On Sunday, he threw four but said that because of the Phillies are low-swing strike guys, the plan was to attack with fastballs and curveballs.

***

Martin Perez hit 97 multiple on the radar gun on Sunday afternoon. It’s notable considering that Perez peaked at 96.2 in 2018.



Rocco Baldellli has been pleased with Perez’s spring so far. When asked if the added velocity was something Wes Johnson tapped into, Baldelli deferred to Perez’s work ethic.

“More than anything, I like to credit the player on his offseason and the work that he put in to come into camp to feeling the way he’s feeling and throwing the ball the way he’s throwing it.”

The way he has been throwing it has been noticeably harder.

“He’s been a certain type of pitcher in his career for a while now and to see a guy before your eyes be able to make pretty big adjustments in short period of time goes to show you what kind of athlete he is,” Baldelli added. “Not many people can do that.”

Even if it does run hot, if Perez is currently sitting 95-96 regularly in spring training, it means there could be more left in the tank come midseason, since velocity often operates in a bell curve throughout the year.


***


Catching prospect Ben Rortvedt pasted a double to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning.


“I got up 2-0, kinda got passive on a fastball,” Rortvedt said, “Then he hung a changeup up there but I put a pretty good swing on that.”

Baldelli has noticed the work Rortvedt put in.

“He’s actually done a great job.” the manager said.”Talked to Bill [Evans] and Tanner [Swanson] our catching guys, and they really enjoy him behind the plate. He’s a very strongly built young man but he’s also extremely flexible which I found interesting, watching him sit back there behind the dish and do different things.”

Those different things means trying to keep and steal as many strikes as possible by getting as low as possible (seriously, look at this).

When asked to explain the #Bottomfeeder mentality that Swanson and others have promoted on Twitter among the catching group, Rortvedt summarized it as such: ““It all just amounts to working with the pitchers, getting counts flipped, which flips innings, which gets more wins.”

He’s still years away but the Twins have enjoyed his presence.

“He does all the physical things defensively that you would want and, truthfully, like most young hitters he’s learning a lot and probably absorbing as much as he possibly can on both sides of the ball in camp,” said Baldelli..” He’s a great person, he works extremely hard and he’s put himself in a good position to compete at the upper levels.”

***

Jonathan Schoop sent a baseball off the scoreboard in left center field. It was an impressive flight. When asked if the distance surprised him, Baldalli said no.



“I’ve seen Jon hit balls like that many, many times,” said Baldelli. “This is not your average second baseman, he can do big things.”

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16 Comments

You might want to check the radar gun at the Fort...

    • Thrylos, tarheeltwinsfan, d-mac and 1 other like this
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Aerodeliria
Mar 03 2019 07:01 PM

Schoop wasn't fooled at all by the breaking ball.

 

You might want to check the radar gun at the Fort...

Wow what if Wes Johnsons true skill was tampering with radar guns. Like that guy from Harry Potter that used memory charms to make people think he was dope. 

    • nytwinsfan, d-mac, Minny505 and 4 others like this
On MLB The Show, the pitching coach you hire boosts certain traits and vice versa...

Wes Johnson is a +4 boost with velocity! Hope his injury rating isn't a -2... :(
    • glunn, bluechipper, nytwinsfan and 3 others like this
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NumberThree
Mar 03 2019 08:01 PM
I was at the game today and have to say I am now very intrigued by Perez. Or maybe I’m more intrigued by Wes Johnson. Time will tell if maybe Perez or Johnson or both end up being great off-season acquisitions. And I didn’t know the speeds of the pitches ... was just looking at the over all performance. Was great ... in a very small sample size of 3 innings in a spring training game.
    • birdwatcher, blindeke, IndianaTwin and 4 others like this
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LylesCrocodiles
Mar 03 2019 08:59 PM
Watching on TV I was impressed with Perez. And I didn’t know the velo. He hit is spots with the fastball. Threw a couple good sliders. Had Realmuto waving at a change. I really don’t care what his velo is as long as he’s commanding the ball like that. He can get people out.
    • glunn, IndianaTwin, howieramone2 and 1 other like this

Brian Navarreto sure put a charge in the ball when he hit it over the Southern Green Monster late in the game.

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Brock Beauchamp
Mar 03 2019 09:29 PM

 

Watching on TV I was impressed with Perez. And I didn’t know the velo. He hit is spots with the fastball. Threw a couple good sliders. Had Realmuto waving at a change. I really don’t care what his velo is as long as he’s commanding the ball like that. He can get people out.

Well, yes and no. It's the first week of March. Hitters aren't exactly up to speed on game velocity.

 

Good that he performed, great that he showed increased velocity, what the hitters did with it is basically inconsequential.

    • d-mac likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Mar 04 2019 06:37 AM

It's kind of hard to figure out Johnson's contributions, but correct me if I"m wrong, but it's pretty rare for guys to be hitting their 2018 max velo in ST? Usually that happens well into the season...

 

It sure seems like they have a coach who using the laws of physics to maximize a player's velocity. 

    • Mike Frasier Law, d-mac and caninatl04 like this
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Parker Hageman
Mar 04 2019 08:38 AM

 

It's kind of hard to figure out Johnson's contributions, but correct me if I"m wrong, but it's pretty rare for guys to be hitting their 2018 max velo in ST? Usually that happens well into the season...

 

It sure seems like they have a coach who using the laws of physics to maximize a player's velocity. 

 

Yes, pitching velocity patterns are typically shaped like a bell curve. It peaks sometime in the middle of the season and gradually declines from there. 

 

I don't know how much credit to give Johnson, the pitching development staff or Perez himself. Baldelli believes a lot of it was Perez getting himself in top condition coming into camp. There's some effect of all three mixed in there.

    • Brock Beauchamp, diehardtwinsfan, howieramone2 and 3 others like this

 

It's kind of hard to figure out Johnson's contributions, but correct me if I"m wrong, but it's pretty rare for guys to be hitting their 2018 max velo in ST? Usually that happens well into the season...

 

It sure seems like they have a coach who using the laws of physics to maximize a player's velocity. 

Who knew...the key to upping my velo 30 years ago was my HS physics teacher.Dang!...lol

    • ashbury, d-mac and twinsguy45 like this

Gonsalves, Berrios and Perez are showing upticks in velocity already under this pitching coach but is there any word on Addison Reed's current velocity?Does it look like he will be able to reclaim the 2-3 MPH he lost last season?

 

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Parker Hageman
Mar 04 2019 02:35 PM

 

Gonsalves, Berrios and Perez are showing upticks in velocity already under this pitching coach but is there any word on Addison Reed's current velocity?Does it look like he will be able to reclaim the 2-3 MPH he lost last season?

 

He hit 90 once today. 88-89 on the gun. Will have more on this later. 

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Ebby Calvin Laloosh
Mar 05 2019 09:07 AM

I like the increased velocity that Johnson seems to be able to squeeze out of guys. It's a refreshing after enduringthe "pitch to contact" philosophy for so long. Power pitching is fun to watch. Is anyone concerned that upping the velocity across the board with these guys is going to lead to more injuries? Seems too good to be true; just whisper sweet nothings into pitchers ears and they throw harder with no ill effect? Call me excited, but skeptical. 

It is spring training, I refuse to get too excited!
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Nine of twelve
Mar 05 2019 07:02 PM

 

He hit 90 once today. 88-89 on the gun. Will have more on this later. 

That's acceptable for a veteran pitcher on March 5.

    • Vanimal46 likes this