Velocity has become an important part of the game of baseball. When a pitcher has perfected his delivery, increased his strength, and achieved a high level of confidence, they can achieve fastball speeds that very few in the world can achieve. The CLPB has seen some great pitching at all speeds, however, when it comes to velocity, one pitcher stands out above the rest. The Parkland Sharks’ lights-out closer, Derek Bolander, is one of the most electric and fun pitchers to watch, as his fastball has touched 94 to 95 miles per hour this summer. I had a chance to interview Derek about how he uses his velocity to succeed this summer and what he plans to do moving forward.
All right, Derek, thank you for taking time out of your day to be interviewed. First, where are you from? And how did you find out about the CLPB?
I’m from the Toledo, Ohio area, and my friend that is on the team right now, Skylar Mays, kept telling me about the league. I then emailed the owner and he said I could come down and play. I currently play for a Division 2 school called Ohio Dominican.
That’s right. Now, how is your experience been so far with the CLPB, and what’s it like playing with Coach Shwam and the Sharks?
My experience has been awesome. Living in Florida for the summer has been really fun and when I get to play baseball every day on top of that, it’s the best. Playing for Dan Shwam has been really nice as I’ve had a lot of learning experiences. He’s a great coach. He’s been doing it for a while. So it’s always fun to go to the field every day and learn from him.
That’s good. Now you’ve been pitching very well this summer as the Sharks’ closer. You haven’t given up a run in 11 innings, you have a 0 ERA and gave up just three hits. What is your approach when you step up to the mound and what’s been working for you?
My approach is just to throw strikes and trust the defense behind me, but mainly what’s been working for me is my fastball and then toss a couple of sliders in there every now and then. And I think it helps that you know, obviously, I have some high velocity that really helps but I think just going and attacking the hitters after the first pitch strike is really what is a big deal for me.
Yes, that’s definitely been working out for you so far. Do you have any goals for this year and has the CLPB helped you in any way trying to achieve those goals?
I think well personally, I don’t have any goals for myself. But as a team for going back to ODU, the goal is always to try and make it as far as possible, win the conference and make the playoffs. The CLPB has definitely helped me to stay on top of my game. And then I’ve been trying to learn a couple of new pitches that I can take back to school with me in the fall.
Great. Now, you throw faster than just about anybody in the CLPB, you’ve been clocked as high as 94 to 95 miles per hour. From one pitcher to another, how did you do it? Any tips for anybody out there that’s trying to gain velocity? How did you get to throw as fast as you do?
A lot of people asked me that, especially some of my teammates, but honestly I really don’t know how it happened. You know, after my freshman year at ODU, I was only topping out at 92(!) and I was only sitting like at 90-91, so it clicked this year. I think some of it is mechanical but a lot of it is I like to long toss a lot. I try to long toss really three or four times a week. I think that really helps over time. And the other part of it, as I said before, is mechanical. Just tweaking some things with a lower half that allow me to stay closed off more so I can get some hips and shoulder separation that really helps.
Thanks a lot, Derek! Now, rest up, you’re starting the All-Star game!