Indians picks have a connection to Bauer
Right-hander has trained at same facilities as pitchers Meister, Wolforth
CLEVELAND -- The Indians showed their progressive nature as an organization and the emphasis placed on proper training and development on Wednesday with several of their late-round picks on Day 3 of the 2015 Draft.
Cleveland, of course, caused a buzz by drafting switch-pitcher Ryan Perez out of Judson University in the 12th round Wednesday. But beyond that, the club drafted two players in the later rounds who have spent time training at progressive baseball facilities -- each with a connection to Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer.
In the 29th round, the Tribe selected right-handed pitcher Christian Meister, who did not pitch competitively this most recent season, choosing rather to train at the Driveline Baseball facility in Seattle and hone his craft. In the 33rd round, catcher Garrett Wolforth was selected, the son of Ron Wolforth, who runs the Texas Baseball Ranch that Bauer attends each offseason.
Bauer has known Garrett and the Wolforth family since he began training at the ranch at 14 years old. He met Kyle Boddy, the owner of Driveline Baseball and a recently hired consultant for the Indians, in the winter of 2012, and Bauer has been training at that facility ever since.
The specifics of what is done at each facility are sprawling and complex. But at its core, each aims to develop hard-throwing, healthy pitchers.
"The ranch is a lot more about natural learning-type stuff," Bauer said. "They do a lot of drills and help you learn from the drills. The drills put you in a good spot, and those help you shape your delivery. Kyle's place is a lot more scientific."
At Driveline, technology such as high-speed cameras and EMG sensors are used to study and refine a pitcher's muscles and mechanics, and weighted balls are often used to build arm strength -- something Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway has integrated after visiting Driveline in the offseason.
Not all pitchers at Driveline get put on the same program. In Meister's case, he was already more advanced with his mechanics than some of the younger pitchers who come through the facility, so the focus was on adding velocity.
"Once a couple of the pros told him he had a pretty good arm and he really needed to start taking it seriously, he really did," Boddy said. "Now he's up to 92-95 [mph]."
Though Meister's route to the pros is an unconventional one, it's one Boddy advocates and thinks the league may start seeing more often. Bauer admitted that he was prepared to take a year off to train during his senior of high school if he didn't find a scholarship he liked.
"You're not really going to get a lot better by pitching in junior college games," Boddy said. "You're going to get better by developing off the field. And probably the only club that understands that is the Indians. That's how they shape their player development as well.
"Most organizations are like, 'Oh, yeah, if they play in games, they're going to get better.' And the Indians don't feel that way, which is rare. It's progressive in baseball."