Pete Hartmann: Former AAA LHP Several teams


Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

I played 15 years professionally and retired in 2009. I was drafted in 93 in the 9th round by the Texas rangers. I was 90-92 from over top...fb, slider, and change. I was always pretty successful but never really had anybody tell me to try different things, angles, pitches, etc. you kind of are so used to doing something that if it's not broke, don't fix it.  I pitched over the top for years and then went through a divorce in 02. I didn't play all of 03 because of that and ended up dispising baseball. I wouldn't watch it, listen to it or be around it. I had a bad taste in my mouth and wanted nothing to do with the game. All my buddies were still playing and I wasnt. I was working at a batting cage in phoenix, az doing pitching lessons, etc. I had a  friend come in there with his son that I was teaching and the father asked me if I wanted to play in a men's baseball league. I loved the game and was starting to miss everything that went along with it from being in the dug out telling stories and spitting sunflower seeds on the ground to stepping in between the lines and competing to the max and throwing the rock!! I asked him when the games were and he told me Friday nights and Sunday mornings! At that time my priorities were somewhere else and I kept telling him NO. Weeks went by, and now I am really starting to miss the game. . I had a local friend/scout ask me if I ever thought about dropping down and throw from the side. He said " I think you still have a lot left in your tank and you should try it. So just for shits and giggles, I started throwing bullpens from side arm. I was throwing just four seamers and noticing a lot of run and movement on the ball. It also had some giddy up which surprised me!! I was getting really comfortable, really fast, with the arm angle, etc and my confidence started coming  back. I was throwing fastball change up and my slider stayed from over top. About three weeks of throwing from the side, my friend that asked me to play in the men's league, came back into the place I was doing lessons. He happened to be a catcher as well and I asked him if he could catch a bullpen to see where I was from DOWN UNDER!! He obliged and after about 20 pitches, he said you definitely have what it takes to pitch from that angle! So I started pitching in the MSBL here in Phoenix and dominating the teams. Every start I was going out and pitching deep into the game and breaking bats here and the as well!! I got on the phone with all my contacts from MLB and started calling around trying anything to get a tryout. Well, the Arizona Fall League was about to start up and I got ahold of a scout that at the time was with the Florida Marlins. When I was in college( Oklahoma City U), he was scouting for the Tigers and really liked me. He was going to be in Az scouting the fall league but said he would come watch a bullpen. I told him all about dropping down and he was interested. Long story short, after about 15 pitches, he signed me to a AAA contract with Florida and I was going to spring training in 04!! I was pumped up and really excited to resurrect my career and start pitching again. I ended up making the AA club out of spring training and then was promoted to AAA about a month into the season and stayed the rest of the year. It was a great turn around!! Going from out of baseball to the MSBL to AAA in less than a year!! I had a lot of success getting a lot of ground balls being from that angle. I still had to make adjustments because of the new delivery but I started to use everything....every pitch from every angle. I was 33 and had to stay AHEAD of the game so anything I could do I would. I totally stopped throwing my 2 seamer because my 4 seamer had so much run to it from the side arm delivery. I could control both sides of the plate. My Change up was I impressive  as well with tremendous long as I stayed behind it and followed through. If I stopped Half way through the motion, it would flatten out and get hit pretty hard. I really noticed that you had to stay behind the pitched more and follow through in order to have sink and movement. In 05, i played independent ball and then got a job in winter ball down in Dominican in 05 and 06 and ended up winning the Carribean world series in 06 with Las Agulias out of Santiago. That was my WORLD SERIES! Every  teammate was playing  in the big leagues and I was A side arm lefty out of the Independent leagues getting big leaguers out. They normally don't keep the GRINGOS around past November, but because of the success I was having, Especially against lefties, they kept me around for the playoffs and used me a lot. They were impressed with how effective I was on righties with all the different arm angles I had. I ended up playing in Italy for a year after that and then finished up with some more independent ball but because I dropped down, I ended up pitching five more years professionally. I still am active pitching in the MSBL and still feel I can pitch at the highest level(don't we all??!!!!) I feel if I didnt drop down, my carer would have been over with. I felt there is less stress from dropping down because it is more of a natural movement for our arms. I think it's a good thing to throw from different angles but you have to have A PLAN with it, you can't just do it to do it.  I threw  across my body and it was hard for the hitters to pick up the  baseball from my angle. It was coming from right Center field and looked like it was going to be way outside so they would fish for it. I got a lot of pop ups and weak fly balls to right field. I was still able to throw into righties which is by important. You have to establish the INSIDE part of the plate no matter what angle you throw from. I believe you have to stay behind the baseball more from this angle in order for it to get the right sink/movement. You have to follow through and let the ball DANCE the way it wants to!! Remember, its not about velocity, it's location, movement, and then velocity! Keep slingin and breakin bats!!