MiLB Prospect Triston McKenzie and Box Squats


Brent:
On this episode we break down Minor League Pitcher Triston McKenzie’s pitching mechanics.

Kalen:
Should I be doing box squats?

Brent:
Brent Pourciau, Kalen Parker here at the @TopVelocity, #PitchingTips Show, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Musical.ly, @TopVelocity, #PitchingTips, #BaseballTips, #CatchingTips, #OutfieldTips. Ask your question. We answer on the show.

Guys, I’ve been wanting to get into hitters. I’m going to get to hitters really soon. We’re going to start unfolding hitting by mechanics here. If you haven’t checked, though, been doing some of these, like we’ll do today, for BaseballRanks.com. Go check it out. Pretty cool site there. They posted our last one up we did on Ian Anderson. If you want to learn more about some of the 250 top prospects in the Minor League organizations, a pretty cool site.

Also, when you get out of your fall, you need to start your off-season training ASAP, because you don’t have much time before you show up for next semester to … or your spring season, high school, college, wherever you are, to start for the year. That’s not the time to try to make velocity gains, when you’re practicing for your season.

Now’s the time, two Extra X programs, position players, pitchers, velocity programs. Three calendar systems we use. We have off-season, pre-season, in-season training. Check them out, TopVelocity.net. Get into them ASAP. If you want to add onto that, we’ve got our 3X mobility course for 90-plus-mile power pitchers, meaning we’re going to measure you out or show you how to measure yourself out, what ranges high velocity pitchers are in, 90-plus guys are in, and then how to help you get into those ranges.

Then to David Aardsma’s got his pitch grip course, 12 different pitches. I call it pitch strategies, because he not only it takes you through the grips, but he takes the strategies of how to use them, analyzes them and everything.

I don’t know where Steven is. He wasn’t doing his nutritional course, so maybe he’ll get his … might come back here.

Kalen:
He might come back when he’s done.

Brent:
He might come back. We’ll see. That’s cool. We got a good show today. Let’s get started.

Question 1:
BaseballRanks asks, “Let’s talk Triston McKenzie for the Indians. Throws right handed. Height 6’5”, Weight 165, Age 19, 1.62 ERA, 11.26 ERA.

Triston McKenzie, give them some information on Triston, what we have.

Kalen:
He’s 6’5″, 165, and he’s only 19 years old. It said he was throwing about 88 to 92. It looks like he’s a big-time strike-out pitcher in Single A.

Brent:
He’s Class A with the Indians, Midwest League.

Let’s break him down. Just looking at him here, we had him at 165? How much weight?

Kalen:
Yeah, 165.

Brent:
One sixty-five, 6’5″. This guy is fungo; right? I hate to put it that way, but he is. He needs a lot of mass. To me, just coming out of the gate, not even looking at his body mechanics, his projectability here is can we fill this frame out. We fill this frame out. We get this guy to 200. That 88-92 probably goes to 92-94 just right out of the gate with what he has right now.

Mass on him is huge. Can we get him to gain mass? He’s 19. He’s not fully grown. He will fill out once his growth plates close up, but how much? I don’t know. We’d have to look at his parents to see probably where he’ll go. If we don’t see in the future a lot of mass for this guy, the organization’s going to have to build mass with him. How do we do that? Obviously, with calories, good calories, and we do that with our lifting approach. We go into some hypertrophy development in his body. That’s huge. Right up front, that’s so big. I can see why right there he’s very projectable.

We’re going to break this down. First we’re going to look at injury potential. I’m going to throw two ratings at you, an injury potential rating, and I’m going throw a performance potential rating at you. Looking, based on a rating scale of 2 to 8 for injury potential, 2 means he never will get injured, which will never happen, pretty much rarely would ever get injured, which rarely happens. If he’s an 8, meaning he’s highly, at high risk of injury. We go 8, 2 or 80-20, because the standard deviation shows that at a 10 the percentages are so minute, and a zero, more than likely no one would ever be injury free. I’m going to stay within the 80-20 rule, or 8 to 2, 8 being high risk, 2 being, this guy’s got nothing to worry about. He’s going to last forever kind of thing. We’ll see.

Let’s take him into his leg lift. Big leg lift, not a lot of early momentum. I’d like to see early momentum. When guys use momentum, they reduce stress up the chain. I’m not going to give a mark against him right now unless he can’t make up for it as he starts to move down the mound. Here he goes. He starts to move. Now he’s starting to pick up some momentum. If you think of [Kirsh-off 00:05:30], who goes, he lifts up and brings it back down before he even starts. That’s why I said, I’m not going to rate that until I see him move. He’s picking up some good speed at this point as he loads into that back leg.

Now, he doesn’t get the force vector, which is the ankle to knee, that linear. That means I’m not going to see a lot of push or drive coming out of this leg, but I could still see a lot of internal rotation. It can work. We can have momentum and slam into good internal rotation and still get a lot of force in the front leg to transfer up the mound, but let’s just move forward into front foot strike and let’s see what happens.

Ideally, what I was saying is I like to see guys that can get some drive off the rubber. Let’s see what he does. As we go to front foot strike, you can see not much drive. He rolled inside the foot. It just kind of flips over, so that’s still, that’s a lot of that internal rotation going into a front foot strike. Not a lot of drive extension or power, but we did see some momentum.

He’s getting a decent amount of energy in the front foot. When he internally rotates, it allows the hips to start to roll or the hips to start to open. He gets the hips to open with some good hip to shoulder separation. With his lean frame, I would have expected a lot more hip to shoulder separation than this. I can see this starting to tuck in the front foot strike. I’m concerned that it’s not that great of back leg drive and power. Good momentum but not great back leg drive and power. I’m going to take that as a mark against his potential energy that would reduce a lot of the forces up the chain.

Decent hip to shoulder separation. Like I said, for him, I would expect a lot better. Then as he opens into complete shoulder rotation, he abducts the arm with good contra-lateral tilt during maximum external rotation, when the arm comes back. I would say that’s a very good arm slot with that contra-lateral position. He’s not fully externally rotated. We’ll look at that when we talk performance potential, but it’s a healthy arm slot.

If we look at the arm cocking from the beginning, front foot strike, it was late but not too late. As he stabilized it was pretty much almost fully cocked. It wasn’t excessively behind the back or up, so I think it’s a healthy slot there. It pops up really well as he wants to almost early trunk rotate, it pops up really well and [excellent 00:07:45] rotate. It doesn’t really pull back behind the scats, so I’m not too concerned at this point, but right here, where this trunk, all of a sudden this trunk goes into, looks like about 20, 30 degrees of forward tilt as he’s going into internal rotation, supported with the front leg.

I’m a little concerned there. At the point the arm is ready to go forward, that’s when there’s a big push to drive the trunk down. That increases the internal rotation torque, and that can be hard on the elbows. I’m going to give that a little bit inefficient and say that’s another strike against him as he goes into pitch release, but he does. The front leg gets slightly active. I would have liked to have seen that even more.

If we look at it all, I’m not completely satisfied with how he uses his back leg, even his front leg. Then that forced internal rotation or forced trunk tilt with internal rotation at the end, so I’m going to say out of a 8, to be high-risk, I’m going to throw him at a, once again, here we go. I might go 5. He’s somewhere at a 5. I think of course he’s maybe more of a 5-4. I might go 4 to 5. I’m happy with him except for maybe that little forced thing at the end.

If we look at performance potential, where he is, 8 being he’s maxed out, 2 meaning he has a ton of potential to gain, like we said, the back leg could get a lot more explosive. The weight needs to go up. The front leg could get a lot more explosive. The hip to shoulder separation, average for his size here, because there’s a little early trunk, because the forces down here aren’t as good.

Then I like the arm path and everything, but specifically in the lower half, once again, I’m going to put him at a … maybe a 4 or 5, probably in the same place. I think he has a lot of potential to gain performance wise and not really at a high risk of injury. I would like to see those things clean up as he starts to pick up a lot of the performance, and it should. Those things should clean up.

Like I said, this is average. I think he’s very projectable. I think the Indians did a good job in picking this guy as far as his potential and his upside potential. I think a lot of it’s there. I’m not really concerned about risk of injury.

Anything to add?

Kalen:
I definitely can see the potential in this guy. Just put a little more meat on his bones. It looks like his arms are pretty skinny to me, especially when you get that arm actually moving. Like, in the next two frames, I think his arm literally disappears on the screen, meaning I guess it’s moving pretty fast, but I also think it’s because it’s relatively skinny as well. It looked like his elbow was bigger than his forearm and bicep when he was at the beginning. That’s just something that, it looked at high risk for injury for me in that one regard when your muscles are substantially smaller than the elbow area.

What do you think about that? Like, no core strength.

Brent:
I think you’re making a good point. You can see his limbs. They’re very lean. Also, too, with injury potential, gaining more mass here would protect those joints better. That is another strike against him. You’re bringing up a good point. That might throw him more towards a 5 or so, because those joints aren’t going to be as protected when you don’t have a lot of muscle mass in there to support that.

Kalen:
I don’t quite understand what’s going on with his drive here. At no point is his leg ever actually going directly towards the catcher. It’s always angled up just a little bit. I feel like that’s not the most efficient way to drive, especially since he’s going down the mound and his knee is actually always at a upward angle.

Brent:
It’s because there wasn’t a lot of force on the rubber. If he had more force off that rubber, you would see this thing either slam underneath or kick up over at the end, so it shows it’s a good point. There isn’t a lot of momentum, or there isn’t a lot of power … I won’t say momentum. There isn’t a lot of power specifically pushed out of the back leg in the front foot that would cause a more dynamic back leg recoil is really what it is.

Kalen:
Yeah. It looks like he’s just barely dragging his toe. It’s just like sitting on the top of the ground as opposed to where those high-velocity pitchers have that serious [crosstalk 00:11:53].

Brent:
If I push harder off that rubber, then everything moves out faster. Then that leg gets pulled behind, and it creates that longer, more significant drag.

Cool. That should be a good breakdown for you guys. A lot of potential. Not that big a concern with injury at this point unless he doesn’t make specifically the mass improvements as he goes forward.

All right. That was a good question.

Let’s go to the next question.

Question 2:
Does sitting with squats, then exploding up, do more for you than normal squat? I saw it on your story.

Brent:
All right. The old box squat. Yeah. It’s just a variation of a squat. What I like about it is when you hit the box, you want to keep your core strong, but it allows you to relax your legs and then fire up from that position. If you kind of hit the bottom, almost at the bottom, actually parallel, at a parallel position … Ideally, the stronger you get, you can go in a deeper squat with a lower box, but at the bottom to parallel position, which is where your load is the heaviest, you can actually activate more motor units as you relax legs in the box and then try to get up. It hits it harder, and there could be more, should be more motor unit recruitment. That’s all it is. Variation. It would never replace a squat. Ideally, I don’t think … It’s not as good as a squat, but it’s a good variation alternative to build on top of one.

Male:
Yeah. It is something that maybe I would do one every other time. I would do squat, squat, box squat, on a daily thing, maybe something like that. We do box squats in our program, but it’s not as often as front and back squats.

Brent:
Right. There should be a peripheral, something you do outside or after your front squats and back squats, even overhead squats if you can start to do those. I would put it way down the list, but it’s a good variation.

Male:
I used to do them and come to that complete pause and then explode up. I didn’t really notice any increase in my vertical, which I feel like that that would translate to. My vertical really went up when I started doing power cleans, so if you’re doing it for a vertical purpose, then I would say put the power cleans on that regard.

Brent:
A bit of both. You use the strength, which goes in the strength variations to build strength, where we can turn into more activity and create power. What is power? It’s basically strength and speed. Strength is the ability when we activate the muscles to hold force or to hold a contraction, the load. Then speed is the ability to activate, turn it on very quickly, like a light switch. When you put them together, you’ve got power, and that’s ultimately what we’re doing. Strength complements power. Speed complements power, but you can’t have power without having them both.

Okay. Cool. Good question.

Why? Did I throw you off there?

Kalen:
It was an all right question.

Brent:
I know. It’s one of those …

Male:
It was just like, what is a box squat? Do you like them? Yeah, they’re all right.

Brent:
Yeah. Not much great information we can give you.

Male:
We like a deep squat.

Brent:
Right. It’s pretty simple into your box squats. You know, it’s a good beginner squat too. It’s a good squat to learn how to squat, because you can control it down. If you want, start to lower the boxes and start to feel what it’s like to go deeper, so you can do it as a little beginner squatting, but nothing really that special about it.

Kalen:
It can help keep your trunk up, because since you’re not going as low and you have … You should have almost no fear of failing at that point. You’re just sitting there. You’re probably not going to fall forward. In worst case scenario you’re just flip it off your shoulders.

Brent:
Make sure you don’t do what some bonehead did in my facility one time. He had 300 pounds on the bar and he dropped my bar onto the box, the [plow 00:15:51] box, and it bent my $800 bar. I think he did it twice.

Kalen:
Yeah. That guess is still better than an $8,000 medical bill, but, yeah.

Brent:
Oh, yeah. Of course. I wouldn’t want him to hurt himself.

Kalen:
You can sit there long enough for a spotter to come in.

Brent:
I know.

Kalen:
You could be in there by yourself.

Brent:
I don’t know how that happened. He was playing there by himself [inaudible 00:16:09].

All right. Cool. If you have a question, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Musical.ly, @TopVelocity, #PitchingTips, #BaseballTips. Ask your question and we’ll answer on the show. [inaudible 00:16:18], heading off in October, all the way to November. See you on the next episode.

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