Every athlete goes through struggles they just cannot figure out. No matter the talent, all athletes fall victim to performance decreases that result in lost potential.
MLB pitcher Taijuan Walker is no different. A behemoth of a man, this young hurler was widely considered Major League Baseball’s top young arm with his mid to upper 90s fastball. However, a solid 2015 season with the Mariners, wherein he went 11-8, followed up with a lackluster 2016 season. This led to the Mariners trading Walker to the Diamondbacks.
Before Walker reported for Spring Training 2017, he came to Big League Edge and worked with our Founder and former MLB pitcher Jim Parque.
“The issue for Taijuan was never command. In fact, he probably threw too many strikes. He was not seeing results because his fastball was flat and his off speeds lacked the sharpness required to consistently put Major League hitters away.” Stated Parque.
Immediately, Parque identified the movement issue that was creating most of Walker’s performance drops.
“Taijuan was coming out of his leg kick flat and rounded, which lessened the amount of time his arm stroke had to reach its release point. This eventually leads to premature hip rotation, front side pull, and decreases in pitch quality. The results are plane changes hitters can identify earlier and decreases in pitch break or velocity.” Stated Parque.
Parque got Walker to stay “in the slot” longer (as described in the video above) by staying over his backside longer. This movement enhancement provided more time for his arm stroke to develop – resulting in optimized fulcrum leverage and kinetic chain reactions.
Staying “loaded” is the key to command and velocity on the mound. But the difficult part of developing pitchers is getting them to unload energy and force at the right moment.
This is why Parque used the VeloPRO Velocity LOAD Harness with Taijuan Walker. This harness is currently used by 8 MLB teams and over 60 NCAA baseball and softball programs because it is the world’s first movement enhancement training system that enhances energy and force.
The results were immediate and provided Walker with the feedback necessary to make the required adjustments within his next pitch.
“Usually when I throw my slider, it backs up or spins there. But it now looks like a fastball and then disappears.” Stated Walker when using the VeloPRO harness for the first time.
When Parque asked if the new slider was better than what Walker normally “featured”, his response was, “Oh yeah!” (as captured in video below).
Most pitchers have more velocity and pitching performance in their arms. However, much gets lost due to movement deficiencies that create mechanical inefficiency.
“Movement is the key to unlocking pitching potential. If you move properly, you decrease energy loss and maximize force application into every pitch. But getting an athlete to move properly is the hard part.” Stated Parque.
Walker worked with Parque for three sessions at BLE – continuing to develop the leg kick slotting movements that eventually “freed” up his arm stroke potential. The result was a breakout 2017 season.
In 2017, Taijuan was named the most improved pitcher during Spring Training by Major League Baseball. He improved from 1-3, 3.22 ERA (2016) to 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 2017.
The regular season saw big advances, as Walker lowered his ERA from 4.22 (2016) to 3.49 in 2017. He also threw more innings (157 IP), struck out more hitters (146 Ks), and helped pitch the Arizona Diamondbacks to a Wild Card berth in the 2017 MLB playoffs.
To learn more upon how to train with former MLB pitcher Jim Parque or the revolutionary Velocity LOAD Harness, click here >> or you can email Info@bigleagueedge.com.