Aaron Brooks: Former AA Mariners RHP

 

https://youtu.be/LzU_2Av-jfc

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

I dropped down after my sophomore year in high school during summer ball. It started as just messing around after watching the mariners Jeff Nelson, who was my favorite pitcher. Just in the front yard playing catch with my dad, he told me "you know that's actually really good! But I don't want you to do it because it will hurt your shoulder." Well I didn't listen to him, and I ended up using it as an out pitch at first when I got to two strikes or whatever. And then my summer ball coach told me that I should do that all the time because it was so effective. And so I did, and I learned all these other pitches slowly and have never looked back. My shoulder has never hurt and I have never had any surgeries from throwing like this. It's actually way more natural. 

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

The advantages I have from throwing down lower are that, not many people do it. So it can surprise a hitter, as well as throw them off their normal approach and have to adjust to what you want to throw. Once oh have a hitter playing off what you want to do, he is already out. Another advantage is, again not many people are doing it. Therefore you are more valuable to a MLB team. You may not be a number one pick, but you will stick around for a while because they don't have anyone else like you. I was a 27th round pick in 2012 and I played at every level in my 5 year career. I would be the fill in guy places when they had injuries because that team didn't have any side arm guys. It is a big advantage if you learn how to use it right and can work to both sides of the plate. 

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

If I had not dropped down I would not be playing still. Not only was I not good enough over the top, but I was always hurting, wether it was in my lat, my shoulder, my elbow, or my back. Something was always hurting after I pitched. It was much easier for me to get people out after I dropped down, nobody in high school was doing what I was doing, so nobody knew what to do against it. I don't wish I had dropped down earlier, not for me anyway. I think I did it at the appropriate time for me, but that doesn't mean it is the appropriate time for everyone else. Your body will know when it wants to do it, and if it feels normal and good on your arm, then that is the time.  

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

  If your thinking about changing your arm angle, I might do what I did when I changed. Try using it as an out pitch every once in a while. If it works and it doesn't bother your arm, then you should for sure change. It was the best decision I ever made as far as effectiveness and health. Throwing from the side is much more natural, just like a softball player can pitch every game. Throwing underhand is the natural way to do it, so the closer we go to that, the better it will feel for us. 

 

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

The only thing I can say mechanically without being there to watch someone, is to always guide your arm with your body. By that I mean, your arm is going lower in your delivery, so you have to bring your upper body lower with it by bending forward in your delivery just slightly. Once you have planted your landing foot, your body will straighten out itself when you go to throw. Basically what this is doing is allowing your arm to get through the delivery with as little stress as possible. If you stand up straight and try to throw from the side, your going to have a lot of stress on your shoulder that will bother you over time. 

6. What pitches do you throw?

I throw 4 different pitches that have taken me a long time to develop. Learning new pitches from a different arm angle doesn't happen in a day. I never had anyone to help me learn these so I just had to do it myself by experimenting. I throw a 2 seam sinker (my best pitch) at around 91 to 92, and a four seam at around 93 to 95. That is one pitch, because as a side arm pitcher, for me it is hard to get a two seam sinker to my glove side, and when you have a long at bat with a guy I have an extra few mph to get him out with. Then I throw a cutter at about 84 to 86, which is not a pitch you should throw until you are fully developed. It can be stressful on your arm. Then I throw a slider that is a big frisby slider at about 78 to 81. Only throw that against righties, it will find its way in to a barrel against lefties. Also I throw a split finger at about 80 to 83 as my last pitch, instead of a change up. I throw that because it is the easiest on my elbow, for me a circle change will make my elbow hurt. Not for everyone, but for me. It is very much the most difficult pitch to throw from the side, but if I can put it anywhere near the plate, most times they will swing at it and miss it hit a ground ball. If you have a hard time throwing a change up I highly recommend this pitch. All I do is grip it with my fingers in the horseshoe of the laces and let the ball fly, don't have to do anything fancy with my hand or anything. 

 7. How do you pitch to lefties/righties?

I pitch to righties and lefties very very differently. To righties, I can blow them up in in in with my sinker and the finish them away with slider or even four seam fastball. I usually have no problem with righties. But against lefties is where side arm pitching gets really tough. What I have come to learn is that when I try to use my sinker away the whole at bat they just go with the pitch and hit it to left. So what I have to do is maybe start the first pitch outside and get them leaning over the plate, then bust them inside with a four seam. If they look bad on the four seam then I have two options, go with that again, or throw a splitter on top of the plate. If they had a good swing on the inside fastball then I have to Change something up. I have grown to love throwing the cutter inside after that. Looks like the Four seem again coming inside and then it breaks in farther and a lot of the time they either foul it off their foot or break their bat on a ground ball. If they foul it off, I do it again. And then finish with a sinker away if I need it. Side arm guys most the time are not strikeout pitchers once you get to the higher levels. We rely on getting ground balls and weak contact. When you try to become a strikeout pitcher is when you get in trouble with leaving pitches up or falling behind in counts. Always have the mentality that you are trying to get a ground ball and if they swing and miss or watch a strike then that just means you executed better then they did and that is great.  

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

my favorite part about throwing down lower is that nobody else does it. It's a huge advantage to do it, and coaches always love having you. I get put in a lot of bad situations with the bases loaded or whatever and I am trusted to get a ground ball and get out of it. I always have a roll like this, where as a normal righty is just gonna go in and try and get through some innings. We will always have a roll in baseball until everyone starts doing it. I love being different from everyone, and hearing the kids in the background when I warm up, like "woah that guy throws so cool! Did you see that?" No better feeling then having people amazed at what you do. Wouldn't change being sidearm for anything in baseball.