Recently I got to do an interview with Trip Somers of TexasLeaguers, where he asked me about the Velocity Development Program as part of our Elite Baseball Training system. I got to return the favor and ask him some questions about his college baseball experience (as a player and later as a coach), his excellent blog and PITCHf/x tool, and how he became a professional scout.
Kyle Boddy (KB): You pitched four years of college baseball – can you tell me a little bit about off-season and in-season training? Were you encouraged to follow a program or figure it out on your own?
Trip Somers (TS): Neither, really. My freshman year was the first year my school had a baseball team. Our pitching coach was a Major League prospect who blew out his elbow, and he brought with him a simple 4-phase program for hypertrophy. I doubt he knew it was designed for that, and at the time, I had no clue.
The 4-phases were based loosely on 8RM and 10RM reps. Phase 1 was a 3x8RM design. Phase 2 was 3x10RM. Phase 4 was 4x8RM, and Phase 5 was 4x10RM. Our highest volume was wrapping up right as spring baseball was getting started.
After that first year, there were no more “official” programs given out. The head coach wanted us to lift, but he didn’t design a program or explicitly recommend that we lift.
KB: That sounds pretty common to what many of my HS and college clients have said to me!
TS: I personally got more serious about lifting around the time of my junior season. I still wasn’t doing the things I needed to be doing, but I was in the gym doing what I considered to be work.I didn’t realize until well after college that, even though I was serious about lifting, I had no idea what I was doing.
KB: When you were the assistant pitching coach at your alma mater, what was the lifting program like then, and how did you try to contribute?
TS: I was told that I would have input — not necessarily a lot of input, though — into conditioning, training, and the handling of the pitchers. When it came down to it, my opinion never carried any weight. The best example of this was the off-season strength program.
Believe it or not, it was designed by a CSCS. The program, again, was completely built around hypertrophy principles, but it contained no pull-ups, no squats, and no deadlifts. It was basically a crappy version of a bodybuilding workout complete with leg extensions and biceps curls.
There was little to no coaching on the few worthwhile exercises. Essentially, this means that everyone was rowing incorrectly. I saw some things that can’t be unseen.
KB: No squats, no deadlifts, and no vertical pulling! Wow – and coming from someone with a CSCS. Let’s move on: Do you have any specific thoughts about the current state of pitching/throwing instruction out there? Nyman is now (mostly) retired, O’Leary doesn’t update his website, and Ron Wolforth is getting decent traction.
TS: As a student of the game, I love that guys like Nyman, O’Leary, Outman, and Marshall have a presence on the internet. Even if I don’t always agree with them, they make me reconsider what I “know” and that’s always a good thing.
KB: For sure – it’s always worth having your ideas challenged. And I guess last – and you knew it had to be coming – how did you end up as a scout? Tell our readers what work you put into it and how you eventually got the job.
TS: I think a big part of it was blind-stinking luck, actually. At some point, a pro scouting director came across my blog. Essentially, he liked what I had to say, and they had an opening.
KB: You gotta get lucky, for sure. But if you don’t put work out there to give yourself the chance of getting lucky, you can’t! So, what will you be doing for the team?
TS: Absolutely. I received an email one night while on vacation in Arizona. At first, I thought it was a joke, but things developed rather quickly. Not only will I be scouting players outside of the organization, I will be doing some video scouting and analysis of players already inside the organization. Basically, they want me to assess injury risk and mechanical inefficiency in addition to the normal 20-80 scouting stuff.
For those unaware, Trip has a YouTube channel with high-speed film of many top-ranked amateur pitchers. I used one of my favorite videos from his site of Trevor Bauer in my article for The Hardball Times.
Thanks to Trip for doing this interview, and we wish him the best of luck in Spring Training and his new scouting job.