Before the days of extreme velocity training and vigorous workout regimens, pitchers relied on deception. Call it old-timey if you will, but unorthodox mechanics are what made pitchers like Bob Gibson, Luis Tiant and Walter Johnson historically great.
These days, pitchers rely more on overwhelming velocity and dynamic breaking pitches to retire hitters; those who employ unorthodox mechanics are few and far between. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
The first pitcher who comes to mind is Trevor Bauer, obviously. But aside for the Diamondbacks’ right-hander, are there any other pitching prospects who possess equally unique mechanics?
Here’s a look at the five young pitchers who possess truly unorthodox mechanics.
5. Cody Buckel, RHP, Texas Rangers
Cody Buckel, 20, has been highly successful in the minor leagues due to a torque-oriented delivery, comparable to fellow undersized right-handers Tim Lincecum and Trevor Bauer, that lends to his deception and draws considerable swing-and-misses.
However, what I find most impressive is that the right-hander is able to repeat his mechanics with ease, which is a testament to his training and overall athleticism.
4. Stephen Johnson, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Division II St. Edward’s University, the 6’4” Stephen Johnson has a fastball that sits in the high-90s and has scraped 102 mph. As you can see below, the right-hander’s arm action, is, well, funky. It’s something that I do not recommend teaching a pitcher of any age.
I’m guessing that Johnson repeatedly struggled to keep his arm speed on pace with the rest of his delivery, and after he enjoyed success with that choppy, stabbing-action on the backside, he stuck with it. It’ll be interesting to see if the Giants try to change his mechanics.
3. Kurt Heyer, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
At 6’2”, 211 pounds, Kurt Heyer really only has two pitches: a fastball and slider. However, the right-hander’s mechanics are highly unusual and makes both pitches incredibly deceptive.
As he delivers the ball, Heyer swings out his front leg with a foot strike that comes much earlier than expected, as well as an abbreviated stride. Then, after the foot-strike, he cuts himself off, purposely bringing his arm through at a three-quarter angle to generate extra movement.
2. Cory Burns, RHP, San Diego Padres
Reaching the major leagues for the first time this season, Cory Burns turns his back to the hitter during his windup in an almost Hideo Nomo-like manner. As if that didn’t create enough deception, the right-hander employs a sidearm delivery that, at times, can baffle hitters.
Although his fastball is slightly below-average, he mixes it well with a slider and changeup, the latter of which appears to float out of his hand and then disappear out of the zone upon reaching the plate.
1. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Of course No. 1 is Trevor Bauer. Who else would it be?
The No. 3 overall draft pick in 2011 out of UCLA, Bauer enjoys being unique in everything he does on the baseball field, such as his 400-foot-plus long toss before games or the fact that his arsenal features nine unique pitches (according to him).