Many kids growing up dream of playing in the Major Leagues. However, in order to achieve that dream, young players must master the fundamentals of the game. Kids especially need to practice the fundamentals to even have a chance at making the show. In order to better themselves in practice, it can help to hear the advice of an old pro.
In the first segment of NJB’s “How To” series, I sat down with former minor league pitcher Doug Cinnella. Cinnella, founder and owner of PBI (Professional Baseball Instruction – see NJB Magazine, Spring 2007) in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, spoke in depth on how to throw his signature pitch from his days in the New York Mets organization: the two-seam fastball.
The two-seam fastball is essentially a fastball with movement. The goal is to fool the batter with the movement and cause him to hit an easy ground ball in the infield. Doug explained that the two-seamer should move inside on a lefty batter and tail away on a righty batter. The late movement will make it harder for the batter to square up on the baseball, giving the pitcher a significant edge, if the pitch is thrown correctly.
Doug showed me the correct way to throw a two-seam fastball during our interview. “Your pointer and middle fingers need to be right on the seams and the thumb needs to be directly below them in the middle of the baseball,” said Doug as he showed me the grip.
Doug also made it very clear to say that pitchers should never try to overthrow the pitch. “Trust the pitch” Cinnella said. “Use your natural wrist movement and never try to overthrow the pitch.”
Cinnella believes the two-seam fastball can be equally effective against both lefty batters and righty batters. ”It gets the job done against both types of batters,” Cinnella boasted proudly.
It is hard to argue against Doug’s track record when it comes to pitching. He had a career 3.32 ERA in seven seasons of minor league baseball. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1986 and once threw two consecutive no hitters while pitching for Seton Hall University.
When I approached Doug for the interview, I asked him what pitch was his best. Without hesitation he said the two-seam fastball. I then knew that there was no better man involved in New Jersey Baseball who could teach young players the pitch. However, I did ask him whom he felt threw the best two-seam fastball in the Major Leagues. He took a moment to think and replied, “There are a lot of them, but Greg Maddux was the best I’ve ever seen.”
If you want to improve your skills as a player, then learning from the best of the best is just the way to do it. I implore all young pitchers to take the advice of Doug Cinnella and to work hard in improving their two-seam fastballs. New Jersey Baseball Magazine thanks Mr. Cinnella for his time with the interview for this article.