High-Speed Cameras Give Triston McKenzie An Inside Edge

Image credit: Triston McKenzie (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — At times in 2018, Indians righthander Triston McKenzie could feel that his signature curveball just didn’t have the same bite as it did when the pitch was at its best. As best he could tell, though, everything was the same. He felt physically fine, too, so he couldn’t pinpoint the root of the problem. 

So he went to the videotape. More precisely, he went to look at video of himself taken by an Edgertronic camera, which can produce incredibly detailed images. They’re a part of many teams’ technological tool boxes, and they helped give McKenzie a look at what he was doing differently. 

“When I was coming back from the injury, my curveball, to me, I would describe it as loopy and spinny. It wasn’t as sharp as I’d like it,” McKenzie said. “I was just getting away from what my consistency was as a pitcher, which was throwing my fastball and then throwing my curveball with the same intensity and the same intent as my fastball.

“Looking at that video, I could see it. There were little cues that I would use—like my arm getting away from my body, I wasn’t staying behind the baseball when I was coming on top of it. I used those cues to get back into a fastball mind set and pitching off my fastball.”

Video shot by a regular camera might have illuminated the problem, too, but the depth of information provided by the Edgertronic and the wealth of other high-tech treats the Indians utilize help prospects like McKenzie get to the root of their game much more quickly. 

“There’s a lot of high-tech stuff that we use in this organization that I think really helps dig beneath the surface and helps guys get into the nitty gritty of what it means to pitch and look at video and stuff like that,” McKenzie said.

Judging by the season he had at Double-A Akron once he was cleared to pitch following a bout of forearm tightness, McKenzie certainly corrected whatever minor issues he’d found in his game. The Indians’ supplemental first-rounder in 2015 out of high school in Florida went 7-4, 2.68 and struck out 87 in 90.2 innings with the RubberDucks.

He’s the top-ranked prospect in Cleveland’s system, and he checked in at No. 44 overall in this season’s inaugural Top 100. He earned those honors by sporting two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball as well as an above-average changeup and potentially plus control.

McKenzie has a good chance to begin 2019 at Triple-A Columbus, just a call away from the big leagues. With a clean bill of health and a bounty of technology to help him, he could find himself putting on an Indians uniform before too long. 

Righthander Luis Oviedo took the mound in a low Class A minor league game against the Reds on Saturday and continued carving just the way he did during his breakout 2018 campaign. The Indians’ No. 8 prospect wasn’t overpowering, sitting mostly in the low 90s during his outing, but took apart the opposition by mixing and matching with an array of offspeed pitches that induced swings and misses. His breaking pitches were particularly impressive, including a low-70s, 12-to-6 curveball that he was adept at burying for swings and misses.

Fellow righthander Lenny Torres threw a simulated inning in the early part of the afternoon and showed a need for improved command, albeit with a promising arsenal. He sat in the 92-94 mph range with his fastball and touched 96 mph once. The pitch showed sink and tail at its best. He coupled it primarily with a mid-80s slider that was inconsistent but showed the potential to be at least an above-average pitch with improved consistency.

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