MINNEAPOLIS — Pitchers come in all shapes and sizes.
That was evident Saturday at the Perfect Game National Showcase in the Metrodome when two pitchers from New Jersey shined in the fourth game of the day.
First was lefthander Rob Kaminsky from St. Joseph Regional High in Montvale, N.J. Kaminsky sat in the 88-90 mph range with good life on his fastball that topped out at 93. He mixed in a sharp curveball in the 76-79 mph range that he threw for strikes and flashed a nice 77 mph changeup too. Kaminsky showed very good command, deception and a real feel for pitching.
One batter was able to reach base on a dropped third strike, so Kaminsky was able to strike out seven batters in his two innings of work.
After the game, a hitter from Florida who faced Kaminsky was overheard telling him: “You were pitching 90-91, but it looked harder than (Nick) Travieso, who was mid-90s.”
Kaminsky has a smaller frame at 6 feet and 190 pounds, but he’s muscular and athletic and it doesn’t matter when you have the kind of stuff he showed.
“I like owning the inside part of the plate,” Kaminsky said. “That’s my big thing—make people feel uncomfortable. I just try to out think the hitter and pitch backwards if I need to. You’ve got to mix it up, mix location and eye levels and all that.”
Kaminsky has a bulldog demeanor on the mound, which was honed by always playing with his brother, Joe, and older age groups growing up. Kaminsky’s repertoire and feel for his craft is impressive considering he hasn’t been focusing on pitching all that long.
“I played center field and usually closed out games,” Kaminsky said. “I always had a good arm, but I wasn’t really a pitcher. This year, I transitioned more into a pitcher, not just a guy who throws hard. I pitched before, but I was more of a thrower. I was always a center fielder who happened to pitch, now I’m more of a pitcher.”
After Kaminsky dominated, a much bigger pitcher from the Garden State took the mound.
Standing 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, righthander Chris Oakley from St. Augustine Prep in Richland, N.J., has an impressing presence on the hill with broad shoulders and strong legs.
His fastball featured heavy, late life and sat in the 89-92 mph range, also topping out at 93. He mixed in a 75-78 mph curveball that showed flashes of being a good pitch. For such a big pitcher, he showed solid athleticism and good body control, really sticking his landing foot.
“I felt like I mixed my offspeed stuff in well and I felt like I got out in front of the ball and had a nice downward angle on it,” Oakley said. “It was awesome to play in the Metrodome, where so many pro athletes have made their mark. It’s just really humbling.”
Oakley, a North Carolina recruit, said he is working to improve his command and wants to feel more comfortable with his split-finger changeup, a pitch he didn’t use in this event.
He and Kaminsky will be priority names for scouts this spring.
“I’ve known Rob for seven or eight years now,” Oakley said. “He’s from North Jersey and I’m from South Jersey, but we played on the same travel team when we were younger—the Tri-State Arsenal.
“Hopefully we can make our mark for New Jersey and put it on the map a little bit.”