Sunny Golloway was the Team USA Coach in 2002. With the pitcher selection up to him, Golloway was charged with the challenge of filling ten spots in the bullpen. That same year, Justin Verlander was a freshman at Old Dominion. One thing that set Verldaner apart was the fact the he possessed a 100+ mph fastball. However, there was no solid secondary pitch...at least that was what Golloway thought. Due to this "flaw" Verlander was left out of the selection.
While Verlander would be left out his freshman year, he would make the cut the following season and landed himself as a first round pick as a junior. Now, Sunny is looking back and has found himself in a very similar position with another pitcher, this time on his Sooner Ball Club.
Damien Magnifico has the same skill set that Justin Verlander has in terms of a fastball. But, for the first part of the season, he relied on the ability to blow a toss by the batter and it earned him the nickname "Wild Thing."
Not wanting to make the same mistake he made ten years ago, Sunny Golloway is having study sessions with Magnifico. Through watching tape after tape of Hall of Fame Pitcher, Nolan Ryan, there are noticeable changes Magnifico has adopted while standing on the bump. The most notable come in his wind-up.
However, Magnifico took the challenge upon himself as well. Outside of these "study sessions" with Golloway, Damien began watching Verlander hurl from the mound. Yes, both have the ability to throw the 100+ ball but something stood out to Magnifico about Verlander...the fact that on most pitches, the radar reading was in the low 90s.
This backing off of sorts allows for Verlander to throw deeper into the game and pitching is less laboring.
Last Tuesday saw Magnifico put this into practice while only throwing at the top of his range on "special" pitches. It provides Magnifico with a consistency that can last an entire nine innings. As Oklahoma faced off against Arkansas, Magnifico threw 92 pitches in 8 2/3 innings of work. In that time, he struck-out four while walking three. Understanding will continue to come to Magnifico as he begins to throw low while getting batters to hit grounders rather than striking every batter out he faces.
All in all, Magnifico is not too far off of where Verlander was. If he continues to progress, there is the possibility he could make great strides and land himself as a first rounder. Tuesday will see Damien on the bump again and we will have to chance to see what has stuck in terms of this new philosophy.