Slade Cecconi’s approach to pitching at elevation, and how he throws in the upper 90′s

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 6:05 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Kurt Schroeder’s conversation with Reno Aces starting pitcher Slade Cecconi:

Schroeder: “We’re going to do a Pitching 101 with you, Slade. First thing that comes to mind here is you obviously moved up from AA to AAA. How has AAA been treating you so far, and what have been your biggest adjustments?”

Cecconi: “I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been making adjustments mentally, physically, and just trying to be the best version of myself out there.”

Schroeder: “Looking at where you pitched in college at the University of Miami, there’s about six feet of elevation there. We are 750 times higher if I did the math correctly here in Reno. What are some things you need to take into account in order to pitch at elevation?”

Cecconi: “You have to throw every pitch with the same confidence. You’re going to understand your ball is going to move a little less here and there.”

Being at 4,500 feet in northern Nevada means there is less friction on the ball. As a result pitches naturally come out flatter. At sea level, there’s more air rubbing against the ball on its journey from the mound to the plate, therefore, more movement.

“I mean you just make the adjustments and do what you can do,” Cecconi said of combatting altitude.

And that can be taxing mentally for everyone on the rubber. There’s a lot to consider between the ears.

“When to pound the zone, when to be a little nit-picky if there’s a base open versus early in games when guys might be more aggressive versus later in games when they might be changing their approach,” Cecconi said of his thought process.

Finding success as a pitcher is more than just having a strong arm.

“I use a lot of my lower half,” Cecconi explained. “A lot of my hips to hinge and create some torque. Then I use my body like a pendulum to swing over the top and not using my arm to whip it in there. Using everything from my heel on the back of the mound, to my hip, my torso. My whole body throws the baseball.”

Cecconi’s pitches should have more movement this week with the Aces on the road in Tacoma. They’ll be back in town next Tuesday to face Sacramento.