December 27, 2016
By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
(First Of A 2-Part Series)
Precision command is the hallmark of great pitchers throughout history.
It usually translates into great ERAs and wins.
No college baseball coach the last four years has had as much success in having his staffs throw strikes than Jason Dietrich, former pitching coach at Cal. St. Fullerton the past four seasons who accepted the same role at the University of Oregon a few months ago.
In four years with the Titans, his pitching staffs had the fewest base on balls in all of NCAA Division I per nine innings three times (2013, 2014 and 2015).
During the 2013 season, Cal. St. Fullerton pitchers walked 86 batters over 547 innings (1.40 per game) led by Thomas Eshelman who set an NCAA Division I record with only 3 walks in 115 2/3 innings of work.
Dietrich’s pitching system is explored in this special interview on how pitching command can be achieved. He has been a pitching coach the past 18 years on the high school, junior college and 4-year collegiate levels.
His ability to churn out strike throwers who perform at an elite level is the reason he was named Collegiate Baseball’s 2016 Pitching Coach of The Year.
He said recruiting pitchers with key traits is the first step in having future strike throwers for his program.
“I like to recruit pitchers who have the ability to throw strikes,” said Dietrich.
“Plus, they must have a great work ethic and mechanics that allow them to throw several pitches where they want to. They also must have the tenacity, makeup on the mound that is proper and not be afraid to throw strikes instead of nibbling on the corners which can get pitchers in trouble. I like to know what their aptitude is for learning.
“Also, what is their track record? Are they proven winners? Are they intense and want to compete? A lot of coaches and programs look at those variables as well. I use all the resources I can and watch as many pitchers as possible before going after the top players on our list.
“I also go after guys who have projection down the road. College coaches are going after younger and younger players. So the job of identifying and projecting great pitchers is even more challenging now. All of this plays a factor in who we go after.
Dietrich said he tries to put together a pitching staff that has the ability to not only throw strikes but destroy the timing of batters with different looks from the mound.
“Sometimes I think it is helpful to look for pitchers who have different angles and arm slots. Then we try to have a good mix of different types of pitchers who give a different look to hitters.
“We don’t feel having a cookie cutter approach at all to our pitchers. If a couple of pitchers look the same but can get batters out and have all the qualities I discussed earlier, that is fine with me. You might need a couple of additional lefthanders out of the bullpen or might need a lefthanded starter.
“Then you do your due diligence on whether you need to bring in a junior college arm which may be more of a power arm with a good slider or someone with more off speed stuff which has great control with several pitches.
“Above everything else, I want guys who can throw strikes, compete and are able to carve up hitters with true pitching ability. Nothing is more fun than watching a young man utilize different areas of the strike zone with different pitches to destroy the timing of hitters.”
To read more of this story, purchase the Jan. 6, 2017 College Preview Edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.
Much more information on Dietrich’s techniques, including pitch MPH differentials that destroy the timing of hitters, why temper tantrums by pitchers should never be tolerated, how his freshmen produce so quickly under his system, what his pitchers do from the start of Fall practices, his important concepts with bullpens to produce precision strike throwers, improving the command of changeups, why fastball command is vital and much more.