Calvin Coker: AAA RHP Athletics



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

I was a freshman in college and I dropped down because I wasn’t very good over the top. I threw a flat 88 and got hit around a lot once I got into college. Dropping down gave me a greater edge on hitters because it was harder to pick up when I had a certain amount of deception working for me.

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

Dropping down can have many advantages depending on the person. Some guys are more deceptive than others. Some guys have different pitches or different grips for those pitches. It all depends on who you talk to.

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

If I didn’t drop down I don’t think I would’ve even had a shot of making it out of my junior college much less getting to pitch in the SEC for Auburn. I’m a firm believer in the saying everything happens for a reason so who knows what would’ve happened if I would’ve dropped down earlier. I think about that sometimes but I’ve never really thought about it in great detail.

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

I would tell someone who wants to change their arm angle to do what makes them comfortable. It isn’t for everyone so make sure you keep that in mind when trying it. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to throw over the top. Trust your body and what it is telling you.


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

Mechanical tips are hard to give if you don’t see someone throw in person but everyone is different. A pitching motion is kind of like a fingerprint, no two are the same. So what I do is different from Chad Bradford who is different from Pat Neshek and so on. The way I taught myself to throw sidearm is I would go throw and play catch and everyday I would tweak something in my throwing motion. If the new movement felt good, then I would keep doing it. Almost just add it into my motion. The biggest tip I could give someone is to stay fluid. Stay loose, see how hard you can throw soft. That means to stay loose and not muscle up and try to throw as hard as you can because you’d be surprised how hard you can throw while being smooth through your motion instead of jerky. 

6. What pitches do you throw?

I throw a sinker, slider and changeup. Velocity is a funny subject to me because I throw 88-91, so velocity isn’t everything to me. Now, if you were to interview someone who throws 104 they would probably tell you that it definitely helps. I do think however that velocity is a common misconception because everybody wants to see the radar gun light up like a Christmas tree. However, if you can’t throw a strike it does nothing for you. What good does 104 do if you’re hitting the backstop and walking 3 guys on 12 straight pitches? It does nothing if you can’t throw strikes. In my opinion velocity is the last thing a pitcher should be worried about. Sure it looks good but creating deception, commanding your fastball, and creating movement on your pitches are all above velocity on the list. 



 7. How do you pitch to lefties/righties?

Righties are pretty simple. Run the sinker in on the hands and spin it late. If they are swinging early in the count most of the time you spin one early and then run sinkers in late. Lefties are tricky because there is a lot of different things you can do to attack them. Usually I spin it early and stay away with sinkers late if I get into a deep count. The other thing is you can run sinkers in to lefties to back them off the plate and then run sinkers away the rest of the at bat. In my opinion the back door slider is an incredible weapon to have.


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

 I particularly like the amount of deception you can creat from a lower arm slot. Your same handed match up(right on right or left on left) can give you a decent advantage over opposite match ups. I like how you don’t have to throw 100 mph. You can throw 84-86 and still get outs pretty consistently.