November 30, 2020

Nestor Cortes Jr, Randy Flores, and Vince Velasquez on Learning to Manipulate Their Sliders (FanGraphs)


Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.

In this installment of the series, we’ll hear from three pitchers — Nestor Cortes Jr., Randy Flores, and Vince Velasquez — on how they learned and developed their sliders.

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Nestor Cortes Jr., New York Yankees

“When I first got drafted, I was just fastball-curveball-changeup. One of my pitching coaches in Rookie ball, Jose Rosado, told me I needed [a slider]. I was throwing a bullpen and he was, ‘Hey, you’ve got the slow curveball, and you’ve got your heater. There’s about a 15 mph difference, so you need something in between.’ We started messing around with the grip.

“It’s come a long way since then, but there’s still a lot of room to improve it. It’s basically like a cutter, and I’m…

Read “Nestor Cortes Jr, Randy Flores, and Vince Velasquez on Learning to Manipulate Their Sliders” at FanGraphs