Admittedly, the title to this post is not my creation; it is the title of a recently released article in ESPN the Magazine. The article, written by Jason Fagone, appears in ESPN The Magazine’s September 14th issue. The article can be read at the below link as well:
While this article is new, I have personally witnessed this revolution for over a decade now. I am proud to say that Oates Specialties has been a part of this revolution since 2003, by supplying, locating, and inventing products and workout equipment to meet the Texas Baseball Ranch’s ever evolving needs for training its athletes.
In fact, I was one of the guinea pigs early on in the revolution, and it transformed me from a high school senior who topped out at 84 mph to a professional pitcher in the Seattle Mariners’ organization who topped out at 94 mph. What Coach Wolforth and the Texas Baseball Ranch are accomplishing is truly astounding, and it is helping to revolutionize baseball and, specifically, training pitchers.
I’ve written and shared my story as well as other high school and college athletes’ stories regarding the transformation in velocity, arm health, recovery, and the “late life” that the Texas Baseball Ranch has been successful in helping athletes achieve. But Coach Wolforth has done something recently that has received incredible media attention: he has helped former Major League pitchers, who were completely out of baseball, return to the Big Leagues.
Both Scott Kazmir and Barry Zito were thought to be finished. Kazmir had gone from MLB All-Star to released—no team wanted him. His fastball was sitting in the low to mid 80s. But after over a year training at the Ranch, his velocity was back over 90. The Cleveland Indians signed him, only to lose him to the Oakland A’s in free agency (where he signed a 2 year $22 million deal). Not a bad bounce back if you ask me.
Zito similarly had gone from MLB All-Star and the 2002 Cy Young Award winner to out of baseball after a rough stint with the San Francisco Giants. Zito was not ready to hang up his cleats and so he turned to Coach Wolforth and the Texas Baseball Ranch to help him make a come-back (he moved to Texas so that he could train at the Ranch). After being out of baseball for all of 2014, the Oakland A’s invited him to Spring Training in 2015, and he was assigned to their AAA team. But just last week, Zito was called up to the Major Leagues and will make his first Major League start in nearly two years today (Saturday, September 26).
It’s really incredible that two pitchers who were the best of the best were told by professional baseball that they were done, finished, and washed up. Nobody could help them. Nevertheless, Coach Wolforth and the Texas Baseball Ranch were able to take them and mold them back into versions of their former selves, although perhaps a more efficient version of their former selves.
How does such a transformation take place? It is the same whether it is a high school pitcher, or a former major league pitcher. The Texas Baseball Ranch starts with an assessment of the athlete’s body: what are the athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, and constraints? This is done through a “functional movement screen.” Next up is high-speed video analysis of the pitcher’s delivery: are there any mechanical inefficiencies or flaws during the delivery?
From this starting point, everything else unfolds. Based on what these assessments and analysis shows, the Texas Baseball Ranch knows what the next step is. It is like a patient who comes into the Emergency Room. The doctor needs to find out what the issue is before he/she can offer solutions to fix the problem. This is common sense right? Unfortunately, too many instructors and coaches take a one-size fits all approach. Every athlete that walks through the door gets the same instruction and performs the same drills. Can you imagine seeing a doctor and he/she simply prescribes you a treatment without knowing what is specifically wrong with you? That doesn’t make sense. The same holds true in athletic training.
The Texas Baseball Ranch, after diagnosing what the major concerns are with a pitcher (the issue(s) that are holding that pitcher back in terms of velocity, arm health, recovery, consistency, etc.) is able to specifically prescribe a training regimen to address those issues. This training regimen includes drills and exercises using Oates Specialties products. For example, the ESPN The Magazine article mentions the use of several Oates Specialties products: the Connection Ball, Large-Diameter Ropes, the Baseball Training Sock, and the ShoulderTube, to name a few. In addition, Oates Specialties has over a hundred other products that can help improve and strengthen all aspects of an athlete’s game.
It has been an incredible ride over the last decade, watching Coach Ron Wolforth, the Texas Baseball Ranch, and Oates Specialties grow and start this pitching revolution. If you are a baseball player, coach, or parent, you better jump aboard this revolution, or else you are going to be left in the dust.
Until next time,