Blake Maxwell: Former RHP AAA Red Sox


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

In high school I threw from a 3/4 arm slot and my fastball was usually 82-84 mph.  I would occasionally drop down to side arm in the bullpen when I was messing around and realized that I had very good movement and a pretty good slider from that slot.  In the fall of my freshman year of college I was having a successful fall but I decided to drop down one pitch in the bullpen to show my pitching coach.  He loved it and told me to pitch that way in my next outing.  After that outing, the head coach really liked what it looked like and told me to stay down there for good.  The spring of my freshman year my velocity had jumped to 84-86.  By the fall of my sophomore year my velocity was 88-91.  I ended up being 88-92 before I was drafted after my junior year of college.  Throughout my professional career my arm slot moved around quite a bit and I threw everywhere from sidearm to completely submarine and experienced days where my velocity topped out at 92 and days where my velocity topped out in the 60s depending on what slot I was using.  When my slot got all the way down to submarine and my velo dropped tremendously, I decided to bring my slot back up to as close as possible to where I threw in college and I stayed at that slot for the final 3.5 years of my career and had a lot of success.


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

From my arm slot, my velocity increased tremendously, as well as my deception and movement.  My slider was also way better than my breaking ball had been when I threw from a 3/4 slot.


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

 If I did not drop down, I think I would have never had the opportunity to play professional baseball and I don't believe I would have had the same success I had in college.  I went from an okay division III college arm to my school's all time ERA and saves leader. 

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

Dropping down is not for everyone, but if you are not getting guys out from over the top, or your stuff is below average, I recommend making this change.  Especially if you are not a guy who throws dead over the top in the first place.  It takes a lot of work to be able to do, but once you drop down, if you work at your delivery you will be able to repeat it and give yourself an opportunity to be very successful.


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

 When attempting to throw a change-up from this slot, your arm automatically pronates and you do not have to pronate it more.  I did not realized this until the final two years of my career.  I would always over pronate and had no control whatsoever of my change-up.  After I stopped trying to pronate, my change-up went from being non-existent to being a plus pitch for me and definitely was a huge part of the success I had over the final two years of my career.


6. What pitches did you throw?

 I threw a two seam fastball, a slider, and a change-up (during the final two years of my career).


7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

  I was not afraid to use any of my pitches in any count to any batter.  I wish I had thrown more righty/righty change-ups because this pitch is a very effective weapon.  A lot of guys think when you throw sidearm that you have to attack inside to your arm side all the time.  I believe with the complete opposite.  Being able to throw a pitch to the away corner, (outside to a righty for a right handed pitcher), and having that pitch come back onto the corner is one of the toughest pitches for a hitter to put a good swing on.  When you drop down, most guys step in the bucket and look to yank, and when you are able to throw the ball away from them you put yourself in a great position for success.  Also, it is very important to throw strike one from this slot.  It is amazing how many guys will take the first pitch off of a sidearm guy because it is a funky delivery and they want to see a pitch before they swing.  This is why I think it is very important to throw the first pitch for a strike, even if you throw it right down the middle because once you are ahead in the count it changes the entire at bat.  This was one of my most dangerous weapons because I was a strike thrower and got ahead the majority of the time.


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

My favorite part about pitching from down there was the fact that it was different.  My mechanics late in my career ended up being a combination of my body looking like I was going to throw submarine but I would end up throwing sidearm to a little above sidearm.  Every coach I ever played for told me that they have never seen anyone throw the way I threw.  Being different was a unique feeling, but the fact that I repeated that delivery over and over and had a lot of success while looking different was the best part.  All the fans love pitchers who throw sidearm and opposing teams hate them.  Because my mechanics looked so weird, all the other teams wanted to beat me and not be beat by some guy who looks like he has no business playing professional baseball.  The amount of success I had means I beat them a lot more than they beat me and that is what ended up being my favorite part about throwing sidearm.