“As I get stronger, I stay mobile,” says Bachman, a 2018 graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers with 19 mound appearances (18 starts) in two seasons at Miami. “It’s important to stay mobile in your upper and lower half.”
To say mobile as his strength increases, Bachman pays attention to his movement patterns, goes through mobility circuits and does yoga.
Besides a two-seam fastball, Bachman throws a slider — more of a “slurve” which breaks two planes of the strike zone — and a vertical-breaking change-up.
The Grand Park League began last week and Bachman made his second appearance Tuesday, June 23. He expects to throw a bullpen Saturday at Fishers Sports Academy and take the mound in the college league again Tuesday, June 30.
Bachman and Miami pitching coach Matthew Passauer have mapped out the hurler’s regimen.
“He’s very flexible about what I want to do,” says Bachman of Passauer. “We work together and bounce ideas of each other and develop a plan.”
As a RedHawks freshman for head coach Danny Hayden, Bachman was an all-Mid-American Conference first-teamer. He went 7-1 with a 3.93 earned run average. He struck out 75 batters in 75 2/3 innings and opponents hit .229 against him.
With that many innings, he was shut down for the summer collegiate season.
In 2020, the righty started four times and was 1-2 with a 3.42 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.
“I’m usually a high-adrenaline guy, which is a little unusual for a starter,” says Bachman. “It’s about beating the hitter every time no matter what the situation.”
That’s just the way Bachman is wired. His parents — Kevin Bachman and Suzanne Bachman — divorced when Sam was young and he pushed himself athletically and academically.
“I’m very competitive and driven for sure,” says Bachman. “I always have a chip on my shoulder. I’m never satisfied. Workhorse mentality.”
“If you just show up on your high-intensity or game days, you’re not going to get much better,” says Vogt. “Guys are around other guys with high energy and motivation who do not skip drills, warm-ups and recovery.”
During the week, there are also high school players (many of whom are in travel ball tournaments Thursday through Sunday) working out, too. There is weight training, Core Velocity Belt work to emphasis the lower half and the use of PlyoCare Balls.
Each player follows an individualized workout plan based on their Driveline Baseball profile.
“Everyone does a pre-assessment,” says Vogt. “We measure strength, power and velocity and create a plan off that.”
Because of COVID-19 many of the players have not been able to get on an outside diamond in a sanctioned game for months.
Many were not able to do much in the way of throwing or lifting weights for two months.
College players saw their seasons halted in mid-March. High school players heading into college lost their campaigns altogether.
Minor League Baseball has not began its 2020 season nor has the Utica, Mich.- based USPBL .It’s uncertain when or if MiLB will get going. The USPBL has announced it will start with smaller rosters June 24 and expand when fans are allowed at games.
“It’s just a really fun time to come out here and really put all the work that me and all these guys put in throughout the week to a test,” says Polley. “It’s really cool to be able to see the guys come out here and thrive whenever they’ve made adjustments.
“It’s a time to relax and get after each other.”
Donning a T-shirt defining culture as “A wave that inspires a community to achieve greatness” (by Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson), Polley relates to the atmosphere at PRP Baseball and Finch Creek.
“They bust your butt during the week and whenever it’s time to play, it’s time to play,” says Polley. “We don’t worry about the mechanics or the drills we’re working on throughout the week. Let’s see what you got and you make adjustments week to week.”
Polley’s focus was on having a good feel for all his pitches and moving the way they’re supposed to based on Rapsodo-aided design.
Though the timetable is unknown, Polley says being prepared to return to live baseball is the key.
“I view this as an opportunity to improve my craft,” says Polley. “I come off and throw and lift everyday to make myself better.
“Whenever it is time to show up, I’m going to be better than whenever I left.”
Polley came down with the coronavirus in March after coming back from spring training in Arizona and was unable to throw the baseball for two weeks.
For that period, he and his girlfriend stayed away from everyone else and meals were brought to the bedroom door by Polley’s parents.
With facilities shut down, he was able to train in a barn and at local parks.
“To just be a kid again was really cool,” says Polley. “As a kid, you’d go to the park with your friends and practice. You’d compete and try to get better.
“That’s all it has been this entire quarantine. You come back into a facility like (Finch Creek) ready to go.”
Vogt has noticed an attention to detail Polley.
“If the minor league season happens, he’s going to be ready to go,” says Vogt.
“This gives me a chance to compete and feel out my stuff,” says Milto. “I get a chance to improve and see what’s working and what’s not working.
“This time is kind of weird, not knowing when or if we’re going to go back. So I’m just here, seeing the competition and staying ready.”
Milto just began coming to PRP Baseball this past week after hearing about it through friends.
“I really love all that they offer,” says Milto.
While maintaining strength, Milto also makes sure he stays flexible.
“For longevity standards and being able to move well consistently for as long as possible, I think it’s important so I work on by flexibility,” says Milto. “Especially with my upper body. My lower body is naturally flexible.
“I’m working on by thoracic rotations and all that kind of stuff. It’s helped me feel good everyday.”
Milto just began adding a cutter to his pitch assortment.
“Using the cameras and the Rapsodo here is really helping me accelerate the development.
“I’m feeling it out (with the cutter). I’ve already thrown a slider. I’m trying to differentiate those two and make sure they look the same out of my hand but different coming to (the batter).”
Milto says he’s made a switch in his take on how electronic devices can help.
“At first, I didn’t buy much into the technology,” says Milto. “It was all just too much to look at. As of late, I’ve started to pay more attention to it. I’ve realized the benefits of it.
“My mentality has been to just go out there, trust my stuff and compete instead of I need to get my sinker to sink this much with this axis. But I’ve started to understand how important that stuff. You make everyone look the same until it isn’t.
“It’s immediate feedback when you’re training. You release it. You know how you felt. And you know exactly what it did.”
Gray, 25, is a right-hander who played at Columbus (Ind.) East High School, Western Michigan University, Gulf Coast Community College and Florida Gulf Coast University before being signed as a minor league free agent by the Colorado Rockies in 2019. He was released in February 2020 and reports to the Milkmen this weekend.
“I see that they get results here,” says Gray. “It’s always great to push yourself and compete with others that are good at sports.”
Gray, who has been working out with PRP Baseball since prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, counts down his pitching strengths.
“I compete. That’s a big one,” says Gray. “I throw strikes. I’m determined to get better and be the best version of myself.”
When the quarantine began, Gray had no access to a weight room.
“I did a lot of body weight stuff and keep my body there,” says Gray. “I was lifting random stuff. I was squatting with my fiancee on my back. I was finding a way to get it done.
“I knew at some point COVID was going to go away and baseball was going to be back and I needed to be ready.”
Strobel, 25, is a left-hander who played at Avon (Ind.) High School and for the final team at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. (2017) before pitching for the independent Frontier League’s Joliet (Ill.) Slammers that summer. He underwent Tommy John reconstructive surgery and missed the 2018 season. He appeared in 2019 with the AA’s Gary (Ind.) SouthShore RailCats. When not pitching, he’s helped coach pitchers at Avon and for the Indiana Bulls 17U White travel team.
Strobel coached at Grand Park early Friday and then scooted over to Finch Creek for PRP “Compete Day.”
“I try to mimic what we do here,” says Strobel of his pitching coach approach. “It’s mainly work hard and be safe.
“Summer ball is now acting like the high school season. It’s been about getting everyone up to speed. Some guys were not throwing over the spring. They just totally shut down. You have other guys who’ve been throwing.”
Strobel has been training with Vogt for about four years.
“I like the routine of everything,” says Strobel. “Everything’s mapped out. You know what you’re doing weeks in advance. That’s how my mind works.”
And then comes the end of the week and the chance to compete.
“Everything’s about Friday live,” says Strobel. “Everyone has a routine getting getting for Friday.”
Strobel has been told he’s on the “first call” when the USPBL expands rosters.
He was “on-ramping” in February when the pandemic came along and he switched to training at the barn before coming back to Finch Creek.
“I really didn’t have to shut down,” says Strobel. “It’s just been a long road from February and still throwing.
“I help out in any way that I can,” says Sullivan, who reached out to Vogt in the spring of 2019, interned last summer and then came on board full-time. “We mesh well together because we believe in a lot of the same sort of fundamentals when it comes to pitching and developing a pitcher.
“It helps to have an extra set of eyes and that’s where I come into play. I dealt with a lot of mechanical issues myself and my cousin help me out. That sparked me to want to do the same for other players.”
Sullivan is pursuing his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
“Once I have that, it opens up a lot more doors and opportunities for me in the baseball world,” says Sullivan. “Baseball has had a funny route to where it is today. When I grew up a lot of times you threw hard because you were blessed and had the talent.
“Now, it’s been proven that you can make improvements — whether it be in the weight room, overall health or mechanical adjustments in your throwing patterns — and can train velocity.
“A lot of people are trying to find a balance of developing the mechanical side of things while strengthening things in the weight room. They kind of go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other.”
Sullivan says that if the body can’t support the force that’s being generated through it, it’s going to lead to a faster breakdown.
“That’s where the weight room comes into play,” says Sullivan. “Being able to transfer force is kind of the name of the game right now.”
Haddad has been in the organization since 2013. He was signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent and was a catcher is the system until 2016, when he served as a player-coach at Staten Island in preparation for a minor league coaching assignment.
But an opportunity came with the major league club and Haddad has been on the Bronx Bombers staff since 2017. He can use his knowledge to help Blake and Swanson with their transition.
Radley and wife Arielle, a Franklin, Ind., native who he met at Butler, moved from Manhattan to New Jersey in January. It’s a 20-minute drive to Yankee Stadium.
Being close year-round has made it easy for Haddad to get to know the ins and outs of the team’s analytics department.
Hadded earned a Finance degree at Butler. His familiarity with regressions, progressions and algorithms allows him to work with weight averages and other analytic concepts.
“You need to have some experience in some upper level math,” says Haddad. “You don’t have to be a genius. It’s math and it’s computers and being able to write codes.
“(Players) are very open to what we’re trying to do. Kids coming from college programs are more up with technology and buzzwords and they understand the value. We’re all trying to accomplish the same thing. Sometimes you just have to use different verbiage.”
Haddad notes that 29-year-old right-hander Gerrit Cole, who signed as a free agent in December 2019 and likely would have been tabbed by manager Aaron Boone as the Yankees’ Opening Day starter had the 2020 season started on time, has embraced analytics during his career.
“He’s really smart guy and cares about his career,” says Haddad. “He applied what they gave him in Houston. He used the information presented to him.
“We’re trying to parlay off of that and make him just a tick better.”
With Haddad being close by, he’s also been able to catch area residents Coleand righty reliever Adam Ottavino during the current COVID-19-related shutdown. Some of those sessions happened in back yards. The Stadium was just recently made available.
Players and staff are literally spread across the globe and have stayed in-touch through group texts and Zoom calls. Sharing of Google Docs has allowed coaches and other pitchers to keep up with their progress.
Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey makes sure they have what they need, including a catcher, so they can stay on track and be ready.
Haddad likes the way Gerrit puts it: “I will keep the pilot light on so I can fire it up.”
Haddad moved with his family to Carmel, Ind., at 10. He played travel baseball with the Carmel Pups. They were in need of a catcher so Radley put on the gear and fell in love with the position.
“I loved everything about it,” says Haddad, who was primarily a catcher at Brebeuf, two seasons at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. (2009 and 2010), and two at Butler (2012 and 2013). “I liked the mental side, being involved in every pitching and calling games. I liked working with all the pitchers and seeing how guys can manipulate the ball.”
John Zangrilli was a frequent spectator at Carmel Pups games and is now Greyhounds pitching coach on a staff led by Matt Buczkowski.
Zangrilli was head coach at Brebeuf when Haddad was there and had a major impact.
“He was the most beneficial person in my baseball career,” says Haddad of Zangrilli. “He taught me about being a real baseball player and taking care of business.
“That meant doing things the right way, paying attention to details.”
It was also the way you treat people. It was more than baseball, it was life skills.
Zangrilli was at Radley and Arielle’s wedding in 2018.
Haddad earned honorable mention all-state honors at Brebeuf. He helped the Braves to an IHSAA Class 3A No. 1 ranking and a Brebeuf Sectional title while hitting .494 with 38 runs scored as a senior.
Playing time at Western Carolina was limited and Haddad decided to go to Butler, where he started 89 games in his two seasons.
NCAA rules at the time required players transferring between Division I school to sit out a transfer season. That’s what Haddad did when he went to Butler, where Steve Farley was Bulldogs head coach.
“Steve was a great guy,” says Haddad. “He welcomed me. He didn’t have any stigma about who I was and why I was leaving a school. He knew I wanted to get on a field.
“He’s a good man who taught people how to live the right way.”
Though he doesn’t get back to Indiana often, Haddad stays connected to central Indiana baseball men Zangrilli, Farley, Chris Estep, Jay Lehr and Greg Vogt.
“We played together or against each other our whole lives,” says Haddad of Vogt. “He’s done a great job of building a program he believes in.”
Bob Haddad Jr., Radley’s father, is Chief Operating Officer at Harrison Lake Country Club in Columbus. Radley’s mother, Lauren Schuh, is remarried.
Radley (30) has two younger brothers — Griffin Haddad (28) and Ian Schuh (20).
Grffin is an assistant athletic trainer for the Green Bay Packers. He went to Brebeuf for four years, earned his undergraduate degree at Texas Christian University and his master’s at the University of Michigan.
Ian spent one year at Brebeuf and finished high school at Carmel. He is at South Dakota State University with his sights on being a conservation officer.
Getting players ready for the next stage in their baseball careers is what it’s all about for Jim Reboulet and son Travis as they coach the Indiana Nitro 18U Gold travel team.
“These kids who are going to be playing college baseball, we get them acclimated by showing them what they can expect,” says Jim Reboulet, who is based in Hamilton County. “We run our run our program the way a college would.”
As a result, three quarters of Nitro players went right into the lineup as collegiate freshmen.
“We show what it’s going to take to compete, what it’s going to take athletically from a development standpoint,” says the elder Reboulet. “We work on their weaknesses.”
Consulting with their college coaches, the Reboulets may be asked to put players in their future roles. A starting pitcher might be asked to go to the bullpen or vice versa. Infielders are encouraged to play all four positions, making their playing chances that much better.
Catchers and pitchers are taught how to call a game by studying hitters.
The catcher just doesn’t put down signs without a reason.
When future major league catcher Kevin Plawecki was 16, he played for Reboulet in the summer and was tutored on the art of game calling. Based on observation, he figured out when to pitch the hitter up and in, change his eye level and exploit his weaknesses.
That made Plawecki valuable when he went to Purdue University.
“(Then-Boilermakers head coach) Doug Schreiber took pitch calling away from the pitching coach and gave it to Kevin,” says Reboulet. “Kevin is known for calling a good game at the professional level.”
Rebuilt wants their to be a rationale for his pitchers to throw a certain pitch and for the catcher to call for it.
“Try not to do a pattern,” says Reboulet. “Create a strategy of throwing to a particular hitter based on what he’s showing you. That’s advanced scouting.
“You’re not get away from throwing it down the middle and overpower people (in college). You’ve got to learn how to pitch.”
On the other side of the coin, Reboulet wants hitters to figure out what pitchers are trying to do to get them out.
“Some kids had no idea of a breaking ball count,” says Reboulet. “You look fastball, but don’t be surprised when a breaking ball comes.
“We teach them the patterns the pitchers use and to pay attention to what the pitcher’s doing in certain situations and certain counts. They are creatures of habit.”
There’s also getting ready mentally to play more games at a higher level of competition and intensity.
“We put them in those types of situations where that’s going to happen,” says Reboulet.
With a roster consisting mostly of central Indiana players, Nitro 18U Gold has begun conducting social distancing practices and games will start the last week in June. Most games will be played in the area run by either Pastime Tournaments or Bullpen Tournaments.
The middle of Jim and Tina Reboulet’s three sons, Travis Reboulet is the Nitro 18U Gold head coach. Travis played at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., Vincennes (Ind.) University, Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne and the independent pro Joliet (Ill.) Slammers.
Older brother Tyler Reboulet played college baseball at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie and Mars Hill (N.C.) University. Younger brother Tanner Reboulet took the field for USC Salkehatchie.
Before college, the Reboulet boys played travel baseball for their father on a squad known as the Indiana Dirtbags.
Triton, coached by Bob Symonds, went to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., Jim’s freshmen year. Triton third baseman Mike Rizzo went on to become general manager and president of operations for the 2019 World Series-winning Washington Nationals.
Kirby Puckett was at Triton between the Reboulet brothers — after Jim and before Jeff.
Symonds was a Southern Illinois graduate assistant when he began recruiting Reboulet at a Salukis camp.
“A lot of the stuff I teach the kids today I learned from Itch,” says Reboulet. “He’s a fundamentalist. He would break you down.
As a middle infielder, Reboulet would work on the details of how to turn a double play, footwork, hand position and how to attack the ball on a backhand.
Reboulet was one of many on those teams to play pro ball.
Jim Reboulet, 58, enjoyed a minor league baseball career that saw him steal 290 bases in six years and play at the Triple-A level for both the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 20th-round selection of the Cardinals in the 1983 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft swiped 71 bags at High Class-A St. Petersburg in 1986, 62 at Low-A Savannah in 1984 and 52 at Double-A Harrisburg in 1987.
The righty-swinger enjoyed a 32-game hit streak for Harrisburg in 1987. In spring training, he turned double plays with Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith and batted just behind then-Pirates lead-off man Barry Bonds.
“George Kissell (field coordinator in the Cardinals organization) taught the same things as Itch Jones,” says Reboulet. “My brother and I had reputations of being fundamentally sound when we played.”
Jeff Reboulet, two years younger than Jim, also went to Alter and Triton before LSU and, eventually, a 12-year career as big league middle infielder, playing for the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1992-2003. The Twins drafted him in the 10th round in 1986.
All three of Jeff Reboulet’s son played college ball — Jason at Vincennes U. and USC Salkahatchie, Zack at the University of New Orleans, USC Salkehatchie and Indiana University Southeast and Lucas at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill.
Having moved to Fishers, Ind., to take a sales job three decades ago, Jim Reboulet is now a senior account executive for Logicalis, Inc., in Indianapolis.
Four years later, the right-hander was and pitching in the big leagues. He wound up being 6-2 and 195. He was a professional pitcher from 2004-14.
Along the way, Wade developed clean mechanics and the ability to repeat them.
“As I got bigger and stronger, the velocity went up,” says Wade, who appeared with the Dodgers in 2008 and 2009 and the New York Yankees in 2011 and 2012 and played in the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals organizations as well as a some time with the independent Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers.
Jay Lehr also works with pitchers at Pro X Athlete in Westfield, Ind., and Wade began getting lessons from him around age 11.
As an instructor himself, Wade teaches the mechanics of the pitching delivery. But he also focuses on the “C” word.
“It’s about being competitive,” says Wade. “If you compete, good things happen. It’s really that simple.
“You’re getting the most out of what you’re doing that day.”
Wade says pitchers — baseball players — must grind and overcome adversity. That approach will also carry them outside the white lines of the diamond.
“It shapes you mentally for later in life,” says Wade. “(It helps when) you’re trying to get a promotion in corporate America.”
Wade played in the highest level of baseball — the big leagues — but Wade says you can be competitive at every level.
“You’d be amazed where that will take you,” says Wade.
Making steady progress is key.
“It’s hard for any kid to see where they’re going to be in five years,” says Wade. “You have to get a little bit better each day
“You make micro-adjustments over time. If you shrink these kids’ (immediate) goals and expectations, it makes it easier to digest.”
As a pro scout for the Padres, Wade is assigned to follow players — Low Class-A through the majors — with the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays. Other pro scouts in the system have MLB organizations that they follow.
“We compile as much information as we can about guys we like,” says Wade, who is required to file 25 reports every five days. He can set his own schedule and will flies more than amateur scouts typically do to see players for multiple games.
“You have to see them a few days before you remotely know who they are,” says Wade. “Position guys more difficult. They might be off (when you see them). They might have bad series or a good series. You have to filter through that.”
While the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic currently has baseball shut down and Wade at home with his family (wife Mikaeala, 12-year-old daughter Amaya, a sixth grader, and 6-year-old son Camden, a kindergartner) in Zionsville, Ind., he typically spends 25 days in spring training between Florida and Arizona and then sees about 100 games from early April until the July 31 trade deadline. August and September is devoted to following up and seeing players that might have been missed April through July.
Cory Wade, a graduate of Indianapolis Broad Ripple High School who played at Kentucky Wesleyan College, played in the big leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees and is now a pro scout with the San Diego Padres. (Getty Images)
“We don’t play baseball in the frontal plane,” says Vogt, who recently hosted the first PRP Bridge The Gap Clinic in Noblesville. “We rotate. We turn. We store energy and release it through rotation.
“(We must) train those movements and learn to resist rotation. Anything you press straight up or straight forward can develop strength but may not directly affect our performance. It doesn’t mean that it’s not important.
“We do a lot of core and stability work to make sure we’re stable in our trunk.”
Vogt, who trains players from youth to professional, says baseball players must learn how to properly hinge with their hips and glute muscles, control breathing, stabilize and extend during building strength.
“Our advanced athletes are typically much more controlled and stable in their movement sequences from their weight room and throwing development,” says Vogt. “Hinging and squatting are a lot different even though the squat should start with a hinge.”
In explaining the hinge, Vogt says to consider standing straight up right in front of a wall and pushing one’s back side into the wall.
“I want to get my chin in front of my belly button and my butt behind my heels,” says Vogt. “Everything we do in baseball is out of the hinge. Being strong in a hinge allows you to rotate your hips more explosively.
“When I’m standing straight up, I can’t turn my hips away from my shoulders very quickly. When I’m in a hinge, I can.”
This movement happens when a pitcher is loading with his leg lift or a hitter when he takes the bat back and begins his load.
“We’re not falling or drifting forward,” says Vogt. “We’re not falling back. If you start to leak your shoulders forward toward your target, your arm’s going to be late. We try to get guys to lead their movement with their back hip and rotate hips before trunk to create that whip of the arm or barrel.”
Athletes need to learn how to control their breath — during training just as they do in a game.
While lifting, they breath in on the way down and breath out on the way up.
“Most guys are holding breath and hoping they don’t fall or don’t drop the weight,” says Vogt, who was a pitcher at Carmel (Ind.) High School and Anderson (Ind.) University and has coached at the high school and travel baseball levels. “If we’re doing a dumbbell goblet squat, take a big inhale on the way down and exhale that breath on the way up.”
“Tempo is also important. A lot to guys move way too quickly in the eccentric phase. I doubt
they’re getting full range of motion, controlling the movement, and they’re sacrificing
PRP Baseball clients do many variations of the Palloff Press, which requires the athlete to hold resistance from rotating. This helps to build stabilization.
“We want to build our anti-rotation stability so we can learn to rotate at the last absolute second,” says Vogt. “(The best players) can resist rotation better than others to create more whip.”
Vogt says that more ground force leads to more stability.
The trap bar deadlift is one exercise that helps transfer the ground force up the kinetic chain by strengthening the lower half and the core.
“We’ll do a lot of single-leg strengthening for ground force because as a pitcher we’re in a split stance,” says Vogt. “We reverse lunge and lateral lunge frequently. Back-squatting and front-squatting are very popular for ground force as well.”
Vogt has found that more ground force can lead to more velocity for throwers.
“The trap bar deadlift is a little more quad-dominant,” says Vogt. “The straight bar deadlift, because the bar is in front of you, requires a little more lower back, hips and glutes. They’re both great in what they train. You’re going to get something from both of them.
“It’s harder for athletes that we don’t get to see very consistently or very often (at PRP) to teach them really good technique and also get heavier in weight with a trap bar. The trap bar is a little easier to teach. We start there and will progress to the straight bar with some of our advanced guys who can handle it.”
Vogt is a believer in progression while training were each level gets harder and more advanced.
“We have 13-year-olds that will go from push-up to banded push-up to bench press,” says Vogt. “We don’t want to put them under the barbell and say ‘let’s figure it out.’ We start with more
foundational movements that they’re used to doing and progress in difficulty as they get better.”
Another concept that Vogt addresses is volume vs. strength.
“This time of year (October and November) we should be working toward the volume (more reps, more sets),” says Vogt. “We’re working on hypertrophy (size and muscle mass).”
Adding more volume can add more size if you’re training it right, including the proper diet.
In December, the phase changes from volume to attacking strength levels (lower the reps and increasing the weight).
About late January or early February comes the power phase (moving the weight fast) to develop explosiveness for arm speed, bat speed, and more.
“Usually the off-season should have a volume phase, a strength phase, and a power phase,” says Vogt, who does his training out of Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville.
Vogt says rotational sport athletes must learn how to do specific things to perform in their sport.
“We will see well over 100 athletes this off-season and we often see that most do not stabilize the trunk or overhead extension well,” says Vogt. “This can lead to more arm injuries, leaks in the kinetic chain, and poor mechanics.
“Mechanics are often a bi-product of your capabilities in the weight room with ground force, stabilization, and core control.”
Palloff Press Variations.
Loop Band Hip Circuits
Romanian Deadlift (RDL).
Alternating DB Press.
Side Plank Variations.
How you program these workouts within the weekly schedule is key.
Vogt advises that your exercise bank preach more baseball-specific movements around general strength training to ensure that movement in the proper positions transfers to on-field performance. He listed some exercises to add in below.
More Key Exercises:
TRX Overhead Raise to Reverse Fly.
TRX SA Rollouts.
1/2 Kneeling Windmills.
Turkish Get Up.
2DB Incline Row/Trap Bar Row.
Split Stance Uphill Single Arm Rows.
Landmine Row to Press.
TRX Oblique Crunches.
Stability Ball Planks.
Loop Band I’s.
Loop Band Fire Hydrants.
Greg Vogt is the founder of PRP (Passion Resilience Process) Baseball and trains athletes from youth to professional at Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville, Ind. (PRP Baseball Photo)
Vogt also spent the off-season working with Clayton Richard (Toronto Blue Jays) and Josh Lindblom (Korean Baseball Organization) on developing movement patterns, pitch design and on-ramping for the season.
Lindblom won the KBO version of the Cy Young Award in 2018.
The oldest son of fitness pros Kevin and Tammy Vogt, Greg excelled in high school and college with his drive and desire to be the best he could be. At 5-foot-10 with an 82 mph fastball, he was always trying to gain a competitive edge.
“The work ethic and training component almost came easy to me,” says Vogt. “I was born into it.
“There’s not a coach or teammate I’ve ever played for or with that wouldn’t say I’m the most competitive person on the field.”
Even seven years after he threw his last collegiate pitch, Vogt will join in workouts with his players and try to strike them out.
“I challenged them as much as I could,” says Vogt. “I’ll tried to get after it. I want them to see that I care and that I believe in it.”
Vogt says his players have to believe in themselves to get to reach their goals — be that making the high school varsity or playing collegiate baseball or moving up in the professional ranks.
“We’re getting kids to throw harder and make better pitches — all that good stuff,” says Vogt. “But if they’re always working behind in the count and not throwing with conviction, you can’t use it.”
Vogt says Dunshee is successful because he’s not self-defeating.
“He’s never had plus stuff,” says Vogt of Dunshee, who pitched at Zionsville High School and Wake Forest University before pro ball. “He just doesn’t lose. He’s the best golfer. He’s the best basketball player. He was an all-state quarterback.
“It doesn’t matter what he does, he’s very competitive and he’s good at it. He doesn’t give up a whole lot because he doesn’t beat himself. If I could have every pitcher that I work with have that mentality there would be a lot of guys having success in high school, college and professional baseball.”
Vogt looks to help his PRP clients become well-rounded by providing them with the resources to get better physically and between the ears.
“I’ve seen several kids who are very talented but don’t have that mental game and are prepared for failure in baseball let alone if something goes on outside of baseball,” says Vogt. “A lot of these guys gave trainers that can make them better physically.
“I’ve worked with some very talented arms. I’ve worked with some very talented athletes. The separator is always the mental side. How hard do they work when no one’s watching?. How well do they do when they’re failing?. How do they transition from having a terrible day to they’re great the next day?.
“The kids that are good at everything may not be an exceptional athlete and have exceptional velocity yet, but they mold into a better college kid.”
Besides the baseball skills and strength/agility training, Vogt has his players read books to help them develop the right mindset. Some of his favorite authors/motivators are Justin Dehmer (1-Pitch Warror), Brian Cain (Mental Performance Mastery), Dr. Alan Goldberg (Competitive Advantage) and Todd Gongwer (Lead … for God’s Sake!).
Vogt asks his players about their take on certain points in the books. Mental sessions also cover in-game strategy.
An example: With a left-handed hitter at the plate and a runner on first base, a pitcher is asked to consider like the likelihood of a sacrifice bunt and pitch selection based on what the hitter did in the previous at-bat and more.
“We challenge their psyche on thinking about the game,” says Vogt. “Coaches are calling pitches. Sometimes (pitchers) are not even thinking about what they should throw. They’re throwing what the catcher puts down.
“It’s the same thing in the batter’s box.This guy got me out on a slider away last time. He wasn’t afraid to use it. Does that change (this at-bat)?. On defense, there’s positioning and pitch-to-pitch routines.”
Greg was recruited to Anderson by the same man he who coached his father at that school in football. Don Brandon was a football assistant when Kevin Vogt went there and he convinced Greg Vogt to play baseball for him near the end of his Hall of Fame coaching career.
In fact, Vogt was the winning pitcher as a sophomore for Brandon’s 1,100th and final victory.
“Bama, he had a fire still,” says Vogt of Brandon. “He had a completely different approach than a lot of coaches I had. He would get on you, but he’d also let you fail (repeatedly) while you were learning.
“Whenever he talks, everybody listens. As players, we would run through a wall for him. We loved him.”
David Pressley was Anderson’s head coach at the end of Vogt’s playing days.
Vogt began coaching and giving private lessons while he was in college. He worked with the Indiana Pony Express travel organization. He’s also coached high school age players with the Indiana Baseball Academy Storm and then the Indiana Bulls.
His last game as a coach and before he devoted himself to the training business was the 2016 IHSAA Class 4A state championship, which the Eagles lost to Roncalli.
He has long coached younger brother, Zach Vogt. The Carmel senior has signed to play baseball at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky.
Always growing and adapting, Greg Vogt’s training methods have not stayed the same. They are different than when he was with Noblesville and Zionsville.
“We get set in our ways because we did them as players,” says Vogt. “If you do any training program, you’ll get benefits if you commit to it.
“But the best training program in the world won’t help if you’re only doing it one time a week. All the time you’re spending not training, you’re getting worse. Other guys are getting better because they’re working at it everyday.”
That’s not to say that players are with Vogt all week, but they can take the program with them.
Vogt also wants them to come away more than baseball. He wants them to be better people.
“I want the kids to throw 100 mph. I want them to hit bombs in every at-bat. But this game’s cruel. Injuries happen. Some kids aren’t as gifted. Some kids aren’t as willing to work as hard.
“But maybe there is something else they can take from me?.”
Greg and wife Whitney began dating in high school. The couple have two sons — Parker (3) and Griffen (1).
PRP’s “Bridge the Gap” Coaches Conference is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, July 8-9 at Finch Creek Fieldhouse. Attendees will learn more about player development, recruiting, athlete programming and technology from some of the top college coaches in the Midwest.
It was there in the Geist section of Indianapolis that the son of Mark and Pam and younger brother of Lindsay discovered he could make the ball do what he wanted.
“At a young age, I was just trying to spin the wiffle ball,” says Storen, now 31 with 470 mound appearances in Major League Baseball behind him. “It kind of worked out well. I learned to spin the ball.”
Once little Drew identified himself as a pitcher, his father took him to get help with his mechanics. The right-hander began working with pitching instructor Jay Lehr at 7.
“Jay taught me how to throw an effective breaking ball without the stress on my arm,” says Storen. “I was a really small kid. I respected the process. I didn’t force it at any point.”
With maturity came size and added velocity.
But it did take time and effort.
“If you’re at my level or a little league level, you need to respect the process,” says Storen. “My dad’s advice was to do one thing everyday to get better. You chip away at it. It does not happen overnight. You’ve got to put the work in.
“It takes a lot of mental strength, but that’s what makes it great.”
Drew came up through Skiles Test Baseball and at 11, his family moved to Brownsburg, Ind. That’s where his father grew up and went to high school and that’s where his son shined at Brownsburg Little League. Drew did his part for a state championship team in 2000. That came between Brownsburg’s appearances in the Little League World Series in 1999 and 2001.
Storen enjoyed a decorated career at Brownsburg High School. He won 30 games with a 1.55 earned run average and 319 strikeouts. He was 9-0 as a sophomore in helping the Bulldogs win an 2005 IHSAA Class 4A state championship. Drew played first base while future major leaguer Lance Lynn was the winning pitcher in the title game.
In Storen’s last two seasons at Brownsburg, future big league Gold Glove winner Tucker Barnhart was his catcher.
Recognition came with Storen’s pitching abilities. He was honorable mention all-state in 2005 and first-team all-state in 2006 and 2007. He was a three-time first-team on the all-Hoosier Crossroads and Indianapolis Star Metro West teams.
Instead, he took his pitching talents westward and played two seasons at Stanford University (2008 and 2009). He ascended the mound 59 times (all in relief) and went 12-4 with 15 saves and a 3.64 ERA. He struck out 116 and walked 23 in 98 1/3 innings.
He made his big league debut in 2010 with Washington and appeared in 54 games with the Nationals that season.
In eight big league seasons with the Washington Nationals (2010-15), Toronto Blue Jays (2016), Seattle Mariners (2016) and Cincinnati Reds (2017), Storen is 29-18 with 99 saves and a 3.45 earned run average. He has 417 strikeouts and 132 walks in 438 innings (all in relief).
“As a bullpen guy, that’s our perfect game,” says Storen.
On Sept. 26, 2017, Storen underwent Tommy John surgery. Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek operated to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in the pitcher’s right elbow. He missed the entire 2018 season.
Recovered from the procedure, free agent Storen has been throwing off a mound — usually to Tucker — for about a month. They often meet at the new Finch Creek Fieldhouse in nearby Noblesville.
“I feel really good,” says Storen. “It’s more than a year out. I’ve given myself plenty of time to respect the process. I was lucky enough to play as long as I did without a major break health-wise. I wanted to make sure I came back better than I was.”
Most of his career, Storen threw from a high three-quarter arm slot to deliver a slider, change-up, four-seam fastball and two-seam fastball.
“I’m able to throw any pitch in any count,” says Storen. “That’s what matters to me.
“That’s why I love pitching. I just play wiffle ball. That’s all.”
With the Reds, Storen did drop down and delivered the ball from multiple angles.
He took feedback from bullpen sessions with Barnhart into the game.
“I still throw to him now,” says Storen of Barnhart. “That’s been great.
“He shoots me straight and know what he’s talking about.”
When Brownsburg Little League moved from Arbuckle Acres in the heart of town to the outskirts, Storen and Barnhart donated a portion of their salaries to the cause and the Reds Community Fund also helped the cause.
“It’s nice to give back in that regard,” says Storen. “Brownsburg is near and dear to my heart. My dad grew up there. I take pride in that. I want to give kids an opportunity to enjoy the game as much as I have.”
A self-described perfectionist, Storen acts as his own pitching coach.
“I’d like to think I know what I need to work on,” says Storen. “I know what I’m not good at.
“I need to make the most of whatever situation I’m in.
“I know I’m not going to be the guy I was back in the day. I know I’m going to be better in a different way.”
While getting his arm back in shape, Storen is also exploring his employment options for 2019.
“With where I’m at, it’s finding your best situation,” says Storen. “I’ll showcase for certain teams and go from there.
“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. My agent (Brodie Van Wagenen) became the GM of the Mets.”
Storen has been dealing with others in the CAA agency.
“Brodie can’t do both (be an agent and a GM). It’s a really great opportunity for him. He knows the game really well. I can’t knock it.”
Storen is the rare pitcher that was used exclusively in the bullpen in college, drafted as a reliever and has been used in late-inning situations in the majors.
In those high-leverage moments, he knows things can go very well or very bad.
“You’re only as good as the day before,” says Storen. “If I go through a whole year and I didn’t have an interview and not on (ESPN) SportsCenter, I had a very good year
“I would prefer not to be noticed. But I enjoy that challenge. I like perfection
“You have to respect the guy in the box, but not be scared by him and trust what you have. That’s the best scouting report you have.”
Besides a professional ballplayer, Storen is a husband and father. Carmel, Ind., residents Drew and Brittani will celebrate four years of marriage this month. The couple has a 2-year-old son, Jace.
Brittani Storen, who is from Brownsburg and a Purdue University graduate, is a pharmacist. That’s the same profession has Drew’s sister, Lindsay, in Asheville, N.C.
Drew’s father, who goes professionally by Mark Patrick, is a sports broadcaster. Pam Storen is a graphic designer.
While at Stanford, Drew studied product design and has put his knowledge of baseball and mechanical engineering into scheming up the look and performance of own custom cleats.
“I’d like to go back and finish my degree,” says Storen. “I can only be so good at baseball for so long.”
Drew Storen, a 2007 Brownsburg (Ind.) High School graduate, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2010. The Carmel, Ind., resident is now a free agent. (Cincinnati Reds Photo)
Drew Storen pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017. He had an immaculate inning — three strikeouts on nine pitches — in an April game against the Baltimore Orioles. He had Tommy John surgery in September 2017 and missed the 2018 season. He is now a free agent. (Getty Images)
What Jay Lehr enjoys most about coaching baseball is passing along his wisdom to pitchers.
So the seasoned instructor has decided cease fielding travel teams — he ran the Aces Baseball Club out of Hamilton County Sports Complex in Noblesville, Ind., for six years — to focus on pitching instruction.
Factoring in body type and age, gets pitchers to repeat their deliveries and throw strikes by starting at the feed and working their way up.
Concepts like ground force, lift (balance point), direction with the hip (center of gravity), hand separation, release point and finish are covered.
“The goal is to have pitchers become their own best coach so they can fix themselves,” says Lehr. “Pitching’s boring. You have to do the same thing over and over again.”
Unlike hitters, who can swing the bats hundreds of times a day, pitchers have to build muscle memory using dry runs and reps without delivering the ball.
“It’s like tee work for hitters,” says Lehr. “You’re no good to anybody if you can’t get anybody out.
“And you need to make reps count. There are only so many bullets. You want a career or a season?”
While the baseball world is obsessed with velocity, Lehr would rather see pitchers who can establish the fastball and locate it.
“Throw 83 (mph) with sink and cut,” says Lehr. “I enjoy that. Hopefully, that will come back.”
Lehr likes to challenge his pitchers to throw no more than three pitches per batter.
When working with a group, he likes to end a session with a competition.
Sometimes, they play H-O-R-S-E.
“The first pitcher throws a fastball on the inside corner,” says Lehr. “Everyone else has to do it or they’ve got an ‘H.’
“You want to try to hit a spot and have a purpose every time you throw a ball.”
At the younger ages, Lehr teaches a four-seam, two-seam and no-seam fastball.
Generally, the four-seamer has glove-side movement and is elevated for the batter to chase it.
The two-seamer produces arm-side action.
The no-seam goes down in the strike zone.
If they can command the fastball, Lehr will mix in change-up grips.
“It’s a fine line to when you start the breaking ball,” says Lehr. “I won’t teach it until they can command the fastball and the change-up.”
For all pitchers, the idea is to upset the hitter’s timing.
This can be done through perceived velocity.
By hiding the ball and releasing it late, pitchers can deceive the hitter.
“It’s all about late movement and command,” says Lehr. “And the most important (ball-strike) count is 1-1. Whoever wins the 1-1 battle is way ahead. You’ve got to trust that process (as a pitcher). Commit to a pitch and finish it.”
Lehr says players should be leery about lifting weights too young and should be getting advice from someone who is certified or holds a degree in strength training.
Lehr was Carmel pitching coach for seven seasons. He was on Eric Lentz’s staff, served one season as interim head coach then was an assistant to Dan Roman.
Mitch Roman, Dan’s son and a Chicago White Sox minor leaguer, is also a Power Alley instructor as is former big league corner infielder and current Philadelphia Phillies fielding coordinator Chris Truby, former Carmel and Notre Dame player Kyle Fiala and former Triple-A outfielder John Tejeck.
Lynn, 31, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2011 and pitched for the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees in 2018.
Storen, 31, first appeared in an MLB game in 2010 and pitched for the 2017 Cincinnati Reds. The Carmel, Ind., resident missed the 2018 season after having Tommy John elbow surgery. The free agent is exploring his options for 2019.
“Lance has God-given ability,” says Lehr of Lynn. “He’s loose and has the same delivery he’s had since 12 years old. It’s clean and simple.”
A move from the first base side of the rubber closer to the middle helped Lynn excel in the second half in 2018.
Lehr plans to meet Lynn and his strength coach this winter in Nashville, Tenn.
“Drew is very meticulous,” says Lehr of Storen. “He was smaller when he was young so he had to learn how to get people out.
“He did not throw hard until his junior year of high school.
“Once strength caught up to him, the velocity came.”
By then, Storen already knew how to repeat his delivery.
“Drew has a knowledge of the kinetic chain and how it works,” says Lehr. “He has has proprioception (the sense that deals with sensations of body position, posture, balance and motion).
Lehr says Pete Page and Bobby Pierce are the men who taught him the love of the game.
Pierce was head coach at Chipola and retired from Troy (Ala.) University.
Jay Lehr is the president of Power Alley Baseball Academy and lead pitching instructor. He conducts individual and team lessons at Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville, Ind., and at Mooresville (Ind.) High School. He has been working with big league pitchers Lance Lynn and Drew Storen since they were kids.
Finch Creek Fieldhouse will have 56,000 square feet of open turf suitable for all field sports and five full basketball/volleyball courts.
A second phase to the project will bring outdoor baseball fields.
“There is a need in the community for indoor space, especially turf for baseball and all field sports,” says Indiana Primetime Sports president Ryan Cole. “It will be a premier facility for baseball practice and training for select organizations.
“It will be a premier facility for baseball practices and baseball training but it is a 100 percent a multi-sport facility. Baseball will have the biggest presence but you can expect to see flag football, lacrosse, rugby, field hockey and soccer all played on the indoor turf fields.”
Indiana Primetime had 24 baseball and softball teams in 2018.
Other organizations will also call Finch Creek home.
When all is said and done, Cole expects more than 50 baseball and softball teams to use Finch Creek as their primary practice and training location. That equates to more than 500 players.
Plans call for 11 batting tunnels and bleacher seating for 180 at each court. There will also be a mezzanine for viewing on the courts and fields. Below that will be office space, concessions and restrooms.
With the alliance and new facility, Primetime’s baseball, softball and football will be headquartered at Finch Creek and basketball will remain in the Klipsch-Card-owned Pacers Athletic Center at Grand Park in Westfield.
Brandon Lafferman, co-founder of Indiana Primetime Sports with Cole, will run the PAC as Cole handles all operations at Finch Creek.
Cole will oversee the facility and partner with different groups, scheduling and executing different events on the turf and courts.
Two other Indiana Primetime Sports employees — Quentin Brown and Matt Nicholson — will also transition to Finch Creek.
Brown will continue to run Indiana Primetime Baseball and will oversee operations of all baseball programming inside Finch Creek. Nicholson will continue as the youth director of Indiana Primetime Baseball. Both will assist with facility management.
“We believe we have always done it the right way with the kids’ best interests at heart,” says Cole. “Our team feels that we are beginning to reap the benefits of staying true to our mission.”
A schematic look at Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville, Ind. (Indiana Primetime Sports Image)