J.J. Trujillo: Former RHP San Diego Padres




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

As a Junior, I was a walk-on player at Dallas Baptist University in 1998. I wanted to do anything to make the team, so I was a utility guy. I became a full-time pitcher my junior year after rolling my ankle. I made the starting rotation by the end of the year, and had some of the best numbers.


The next year a few transfers came in and I lost my starting job before the season even started. On MLB scout day, everyone pitched, including freshman, except me, my senior year. I took the book that day. After, I walked into the baseball office and asked, Head Coach, Jim Harp why. He apologized, but he wasn't aware of the pitching lineup. The (nameless) pitching coach did it. We got into a deep conversation and I asked about my chances of moving on to the next level, just Indy Ball. He didn't hold anything back, and told me I was a "dime a dozen". Mid/High 80's, 5'11".


He told me that I don't stick out. Since I could hit pretty well, but I was a slow runner, he advised me to be a catcher or start throwing sidearm to take my height out of the equation. He would then give me a shot at the closer position. I was a work-study student with the keys to the batting cage, so at about 10pm every night, and seriously about 300 pitchers per night later, I was the closer. And would quite often come in to pitch in the 6th or 7th inning of a 9 inning game.


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

Some of the advantages I had from that angle was definitely the ability to hide the ball, which is a very underrated advantage. Also, my slider moved so much more from that angle, and 2-seam fastball rotated in a way to allow the ball to "drop" in stead of running inside to a righty, as they do from an over-hand angle.


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

Yes, but I wouldn't have had the opportunity.


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

I would only advise changing as a last resort. But, if someone already feels comfortable throwing from a lower arm angle, I wouldn't advise changing that either.


When people or coaches "get after" players for throwing from a lower arm angle, it makes sense from a position player's standpoint. You don't want movement when you are trying to throw a runner out. But when it's pitching, it should be ok. The argument that a kid will hurt his arm is ridiculous. Injuries happen from poor conditioning. As it is commonly known, throwing is more natural on the body from a lower angle.


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

Yes, stay relaxed like a whip. Explode as late as possible. Release the ball out in front of your body, and use your fingertips to do so. Ground balls are more important than K's. Live and die with the ground ball.


6. What pitches did you throw?

In order of most thrown: Sinker, slider, change-up, fastball.


7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

I just did my best to keep the ball low in both situations. I never wanted to throw a pitch at mid-thigh. I would get hurt that way. I would change my approach according to the type of hitter. I would spy on them during batting practice to see what type of swing they were working on.


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

I could throw overhand every now and then, and freak the hitter out.