Friday, November 14, 2008

Joe The Thumber

A colleague told us the other day of a working class type of pitcher that is small in size, but big in heart that is making waves at a west coast JC this fall. On the heels of Tim Lincecum’s Cy Young award, this story shows how a little bit of grit and determination can propel a player’s status.

Our name for this pitcher is Joe The Thumber…we want to keep his name private, but it is aptly named, because he’s all about off speed and more off speed. Joe was dominant LHP in his youth. His growth was ahead of the curve for kids his age. Unfortunately for Joe, he grew too early and not enough. He stopped at 5’10” and 160lbs and with it, the letters from college scouts. He had a successful high school career, but was often an afterthought in the summer leagues due to his size and 81MPH fastball.

That did not deter Joe though. Every time he pitched, he did his job. In fact, he often made players much bigger and stronger than him look foolish with his nasty slider, wicked curve ball and his knack for location, location, location. In fact, there wasn’t a pitcher on any staff of his high school or summer team that had better stats than Joe. Nevertheless, many coaches always felt that he just wasn’t intimidating enough. He looked hittable…yet the stats proved otherwise. It seemed as if the coaches always thought that teams would eventually catch up to his style of pitching…yet they never did.

College coaches felt the same way. They were impressed with his stats, just not his physical stature. He was considered a risk and it was rationalized that he would never have that same success with the type of talent that he would be facing in college. So they passed on him.

Joe knew better however. So, he embarked on a campaign to seek out the best Junior College teams and tried out for all of them. After a series of bullpen sessions with a high profile west coast program, he landed the opportunity he wanted.

This fall, he has been nothing short of amazing. He put on about 15 lbs., added about four miles to his fast ball and has yet to have a run scored on him in scrimmages this fall season. He is the smallest on the team, but when he is on the mound, he comes up big. He locates his ball with pin-point accuracy and has a Steve Carlton like glaze when he pitches. Joe the Thumber is on a mission. He has a lot to prove and our bet is that he will land a major D-I offer after next season.

Players, there is a lot to learn from guys like Joe The Thumber. There are a lot of you that may not have the chance to sign an NLI this early signing period. That doesn’t mean that you should give up on your dreams if you really love this game. Joe loves this game and is having the time of his life. If everything progresses the way Joe has planned it, then going the JC route will be his way to play major college baseball. There’s a saying that says that ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat.’ I’m not sure where that saying came from and why someone would want to skin a cat in the first place, but it means that you have options and to never give up.

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