Riki Paewai: New Zealand WBC RHP- 2012/2016 former A Padres



1. Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

So the reason I dropped down – In 2012 I played for NZ in their first ever WBC birth/qualifier in Taiwan. I had some time off from baseball before receiving the call to ask to play so it was a quick ramp up for me to try and get back up into the 90’s for the comp. IN our second warm up series in Australia, I came in to the game and tore my UCL effectively making it impossible to throw without pain or with any velocity. After the qualifiers finished I came back home with the baseball bug – problem was I could throw well over arm any more and that was when I found I could throw sub/side arm without any pain.. So I worked on it for a couple of months and figured some stuff out to become effective.


2. What are some of the advantages you had from your arm angle?

For me the main advantage is less stress on my elbow, from horizontal down I feel no pain and it gradually pains more the higher me arm slot goes. The other advantages are ball movement and hitter inexperience vs sub.


 3. If you didn't drop down, do you think you would have had the same success?

I know I would not have as I was unable to throw over the top. I wish I had of been mature enough to learn to throw from different arm angles during my pro career, DJ Carrasco is a great example of this. I threw 96mph with an 88mph slider over the top, so my coaches very rarely wanted to change anything I did. 


4. What would you tell someone debating on changing their arm angle?

Being the pitching coach for New Zealand, I fiddle around with kids arm angles until 1 – they feel comfortable and 2 – they are consistent and effective from said arm slot. If anyone feels they want to drop down and they can be effective then definitely. I mean look at Peter Moylan, I grew up playing against him and he was a 1st baseman then one day he broke his back, fiddled around in low level ball and figured out he was super effective as a sub pitcher. 

5. Are there any mechanical tips that you'd give to someone throwing sidearm/submarine?

 Spend a lot of time figuring out your release points… You spent your whole life throwing over top so that I find is the toughest. Fiddle with grips for all pitches including pinching your knuckle for a breaking pitch.

6. What pitches did you throw?

I throw Fast/sinker 85-90, Change up 76 - 80, Slider80 and Split

 7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

 I have different approaches depending on the hitter, not necessarily whether they are right or left handed. I’ll use level and corners a lot and pitch to set up/influence a ground ball. I don’t throw hard enough anymore for strikeouts so I use my movement as much as I can. 

8. What was your favorite part about pitching from down there?

The movement on my pitches and then watching kids try and copy me haha.The movement I was able to creat and being special from other players