“Taylor” made mechanics & the MLB Draft

This blog post is going to serve two purposes.

#1 – Congratulate Curtis Taylor on getting drafted this year in the 4th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I’ve been lucky enough to see firsthand just how Curtis developed into the pitcher that he is today with his hard work on the mound and in the weight room.

#2- Highlight how customized or should I say “Taylor” made mechanics that suit his athletic profile allow him to throw 95+ mph.

Curtis has worked hard to build his own mechanics that suit his strengths and weakness’. He is an extremely coach-able kid that has been exposed to some great coaches at the following training facilities and baseball organizations:

  • Coquitlam Reds
  • UBC Thunderbirds
  • Inside Performance
  • Driveline Baseball

Curtis Taylor’s Physical Profile

Throughout this series I have been using  Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman as examples because of their obvious differences which made it easy to build them mock physical profiles based off of what I can see from watching video.

Today’s post will allow me to build a more accurate profile since I’ve had the opportunity to see and work with Curtis in person.  When I last worked with Curtis last summer I didn’t have this entire concept complete so I am missing some parts but this is meant just to demonstrate how we can build a physical profile.  Remember that the goal here is to get a better idea about what kind of athlete we have in front of us today so that we can build mechanics and training programs to get them to where they want to be in future.

My history with Curtis is that we trained together in his grade 11 year before I moved to Kelowna where I was lucky enough to work with him last summer along with Alex Webb (9th rd, Reds) and Tyler Gillies (UBC) when he came up here to play summer ball with the Falcons in the West Coast League.

Here is a rough profile of what Curtis looks like on paper.  I’ve scored each part of profile out of 10 and while the actual scoring system is a bit more complicated that this it will do for now and serve its purpose as a case study.  When I wrap up this series I will go into the scoring system and how to read the profile.

curtis profile

Antropometrics (aka Limb Length)

The first thing that notice is that he is a tall kid.  At 6’6” this puts him at the tall end of pitchers and while I don’t have the exact numbers with me anymore I do remember him having a longer wingspan than his standing height making him even longer.

These long limbs provide POTENTIAL but they don’t always mean that it guarantees velocity.  Check back to Part 2 for more details..

This picture below gives you a good idea about how long he is.

curtis 5

 

To take full advantage of these levers he does require mobility and muscular power so lets continue to the next part of the profile.

Mobility

This is another area that Curtis scores well in.  Being long and loose is a common recipe for throwing velocity and one that teams really like.  But yet again having a lot of mobility isn’t always going to translate into success it only means you have POTENTIAL to produce large ranges of motion which gives you more time to build up speed.  Check out Part 3 for more details.

Here are a couple of GIF’s from an assessment we did.  I had these guys film themselves so the angles and quality aren’t the greatest and if you know how to perform these tests then you might be able to nit pick at how exactly they were done but they give us a pretty good idea nonetheless.

ASLR

This is the active straight leg raise (ASLR) from the functional movement screen (FMS).  This is classified as a mobility test since the athlete is lying on the ground which minimizes any need for stability.  He scored the max of a 3 on each side and he does look like he gets more on the left side.  But lets move on.

standing rotation

This is a standing rotation taken again from the FMS people which looks for how well someone can rotate.  Curtis again passes this test easily by being able to rotate enough to see his far shoulder from this view.

What really gives Curtis a high score in this apart of the profile is that we scored a 4 out of 4 on a modified Beighton scale to looks for hyper-mobility. This hyper-mobility means that he can get his body into crazy positions like you see below to throw really hard.

This picture above is not of Curtis Taylor but this is something that he can do along with a couple of other tests from the Beighton Scale.  The picture below however is of Curtis and you can see some of this mobility playing to his advantage by laying back his long forearm which creates a pretty big range of motion.  curtis 8

But with lots of mobility comes the need to harness it with stability.  To look for stability I ran him through had him some other tests. Watch him perform the push-up test from the FMS that requires full body stability to score a perfect 3 if the entire body to comes off the ground at the same time.  I scored this a 2.

pushup screen

Another test that I had him complete was a single leg squat and while I don’t have the video my notes indicate that he had “poor depth” and “poor control”.  This test looks at lower body stability specifically.

The final test that I looked at was the overhead squat which he only scored a “2” out of 3.  The overhead squat does require lot of mobility but based on what we already know this is an area that he excels in so I would think that it’s his lack of stability that is not allowing to get low enough and keep the arms directly overhead to score a 3.

Lateral Power

When you look at his scores from a full set of athletic tests this is the one where he would rank highest compared to his peers.  Even last summer when I  had those three pitchers the only test that Curtis had the top score was the lateral jump off his right foot showing again the importance of this athletic ability. To learn more read part 4 article and if you are the academic type here is a link to my research thesis on the topic.

His score was 77 inches which is pretty good and I would image is even better now.

Here we can watch him from the side on a clip from a recruiting video when he was in high school to see how he uses his this physical trait to move towards home plate.  If I remember correctly he was throwing mid to upper 80’s during this time.

curtis side view

Check out the whole video here and if you like the editing call his father, Wes, at Inside Performance in North Vancouver.

Deceleration

This is an area that I didn’t have a specific test when I worked with him last.  However it is something that we worked on improving because it is an area that he as a tall & lanky pitcher can always stand to improve.

You saw this video of Curtis that I used in Part 5 about deceleration and how it can help improve this specific physical attribute for his right leg as a right handed pitcher.  The goal here is if he can increase his ability to accept more force then he should be able to produce more force.

This drill also doubles as a stability drill that Curtis and his lanky 6’6″ frame needs to spend more time and attention developing.  Despite me saying “nice” in the background I would like to see him come to a complete stop in a shorter amount of time.  Once he can do that then we add more speed by coming in faster.

This picture of him below shows that he can decelerate himself with his stride leg allowing him to really extend and get closer to the plate with those long arms making him look even faster.

curtis extension

Elasticity

This is another area that Curtis does well in and allows himself to make the most out of his strength.  The elasticity in his shoulder is obvious from the kind of velocity that he can reach on the radar gun.

If you look back at the GIF from the side angle you will see that he doesn’t have a ton of movement in his back leg but the movement he does create is quick suggesting that he can store and release energy quickly.

He has since added more movement in the hip and knee but that is because he has continued to get stronger which means he can still use his ability to quickly store and release energy but now he has a larger range of motion to create more power.

The GIF below shows you what it looks like from the front.

curtis front view

I should have taken him through a couple of other tests to really determine how well he uses the stretch shortening cycle by comparing different types of jumps.  Regardless this is an area that he can improve upon but the only way it is going to get better is by improving his strength levels which leads us to the next part of the profile.

Strength (aka Absolute Strength)

If on my first day with Curtis in the weight room you would have told me that he was going to get drafted I would not have believed you.  Here he is in grade 11 struggling with what look to be 30-40lbs DB’s for a set of 8 reps.

reverse lunge curtis

Even last summer when he was already hitting velocities like 93 mph he still wasn’t going to impress many people when you watched him in the weight room.  And while we never tested specifically with one rep max for bench, dead or bench it is still obvious that this is an area of weakness for Curtis.  When you look at his antropometrics you realize that he isn’t built for lifting a lot of weight slowly (>0.5m/s) but he can still benefit from working at this part of the profile.

The exciting part is that this type of strength as the most potential for growth as he continues to mature.

Strength-Speed

Unfortunately I didn’t run him through any specific tests for strength-speed but it was an area that we worked on because I know that it is an area that he doesn’t excel.  One particular exercise we did to fill this gap was to work on band resisted deadlifts.  These are great because they allow to lift a fairly heavy weight with some velocity (0.75-1.0 meters/second) which is the exact definition of strength-speed.

band resisted deadlift

Speed-Strength

Again I didn’t I didn’t run him through any specifics test to determine his level of speed-strength.  If I did it would include things like vertical jumps with load or med ball throws for distance.  We did however train this athletic quality in the gym with things like band resisted lateral jumps and various med ball throws.

If you want a copy of his program for that summer as a starting pitcher in a summer college league shoot me an email and I will send it your way.  graeme.lehman@gmail.com

Speed

For this I would look at his jumping ability. We already saw that he can jump well laterally but when we look at his vertical jump compared to his peers he scores much lower.  His vertical jump score that I measured using MyJump app was 19.4 inches.  When you compare him to the 27.5 from pro players aged 20-22 or the 26.3 from players 16-19 years old it isn’t very good.  These numbers are from a 2013 study by Margine et al.  This study looked at pitchers at various age groups in 4 different MLB organizations for 5 years.  To learn more check out this article I wrote called “You Wanna Get Drafted Out of College?”

 

curtis jump 4

 

Clearly Curtis doesn’t have the kind of lower body speed and strength that coaches and scouts would be looking for when compared to previous athletes.  Maybe he makes up for it since he is 225 lbs and the pitchers from the study only average 208 lbs.  If you have read any of my article you know how important it is to take body weight into considerations when we look at power.

Here is how he compares with his 8554 watts of power compared to the younger and older group who scored on average 10342 and 10714 respectively.

curtis power 3

 

Again he doesn’t compared well which can be viewed as a positive since he can still develop a ton of velocity despite the fact that he isn’t that powerful when we look at this test.  If he continues to get bigger and stronger these numbers will improve and if he can incorporate this additional horsepower into his delivery then only good things can happen.

Body Weight

Curtis is currently listed at 225lbs which is great but at 6’6″ he has some room to grow.  According to a chart that I saw on an article by Ben Brewster he should be able to get as heavy as 245lbs while staying at around 12% body fat.

Over the last couple of years he has steadily gone up which is a testament to his work ethic outside of the gym and field. The recruiting video that I used above had him listed at 205lbs and last summer my notes show that he was 215-220lbs.  If he can keep this up and climb into the 235lbs range and beyond he can stand to benefit from some additional momentum because we all know that the equation below works really well.

MASS = GAS

This is assuming that the vast majority of that MASS is in the form of muscle which we need to look at by testing for body fat.

When I tested him last summer I had him listed at 19.5% body fat which is higher than the 13.2% that the 20-22 year old pitchers averaged in the Margine study.  We did use a different body fat calculation which doesn’t allow us to compare accurately not to mention the fact that how trained individuals grab and measure fat with calipers can vary highly.

Despite this he can improve in this area as well since he has bigger idea to add more lean body mass and try to get up to higher end of acceptable overall body weight.

Conclusion

You can see that Curtis isn’t most “athletic” guy if you use the standard definition of athletic.  He is however very athletic to put all these moving parts together while maximizing his “athletic” ability to take advantage of his long and mobile levers.

His real upside is that the areas where he can improve the most (strength and size) are capable of being developed.  Adding size and strength is something that that human body can continue to do as the years go on while other parts of the profile like antropometrics, mobility can’t be altered as much or at all.  If he can stay healthy and train properly then his upside is huge.

It’s because of this that I am excited about him going to the Diamondbacks because their medical, training and strength staff led by Ken Crenshaw are top notch which can been seen by the number of their staff going onto bigger roles with other organizations.

Hopefully you enjoyed this case study of how a physical profile can be developed.  It doesn’t require that much extra scouting and the benefits of finding more non-traditional athletes is huge and can help any team that knows how to develop athletes succeed.

 

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