Randy Choate: Former LHP Several MLB teams, 2000 World Series Yankees

 

https://youtu.be/dYharVCV7z0

https://youtu.be/mgHDnZwvFNY

 

1. Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

I was always a 3/4 arm slot growing up. Never really threw from over the top, even when I started. I got drafted by the Yankees in 1997 as a starter and they wanted me to move my arm up top, and thought I would be a Jaime Moyer type of a starter in the big leagues. So, in my first full season, 1998, I made the switch. I started in High A ball and went 1-7, then demoted
to Low A ball where I went 1-6 and eventually landed on the DL to end the season. It was after that season that they told me they wanted me to throw from whatever slot was comfortable, and that they thought I could get to the big leagues in a Graeme Lloyd type role. So, I started the 1999 season in High A as a reliever and about halfway through the season
found what became my true sidearm delivery.

 2. What are some of the advantages you had from your arm angle?

When I started throwing from the side, the first advantage for me was comfort. My arm felt really good in that slot, and I was fortunate enough to have the same velocity from the side as I did from up top, which doesn't always happen for guys. Another advantage, probably the biggest one, was deception. Since I basically was the epitome of a LOOGY, the deception towards left handed hitters gave me a distinct advantage. I also think that dropping down really prolonged my career by helping me stay healthy by not putting as much strain on my arm.

 3. If you didn't drop down, do you think you would have had the same success?

Well, as evident in earlier comments, no I don't think I would've, and I didn't have the same success from up top. Since I was a starter in college, and able to have good results there, I don't really think dropping down earlier would've helped. I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason, and I believe I dropped down at the perfect time.

 4. What would you tell someone debating on changing their arm angle?

I think one of the biggest keys when debating on dropping down is to remember, once you drop down, most times, there is no going back. If you are having good results, getting people out and succeeding, continue to stay there. It's a lot different, and to have success, you have to stay down and really find your release point, and stick through all the bad outings, believing and knowing it will become more consistent. I would not suggest to any kids to drop down, as I feel there is always time later to do so.

 

5. Are there any mechanical tips that you'd give to someone throwing sidearm/submarine?

Mechanically, I think is a case by case issue. Not all sidearm guys throw from the same angle, and some are even underneath. (never could master that fully) For me, a few keys were keeping my fingers on top of the ball. Sounds funny since I was sidearm, but it is true. Anytime my fingers were on the side of the ball, my ball flattened out, and I only got run on the ball and not any sink or good tilt on my slider. Also, making sure I got a good load and high knee kick to stay back really helped. I would get in trouble when I would lift my leg and
leak, or fall forward towards home plate, causing my arm to be behind and trying to catch up. Leaving my ball high and away to righties and up and in to lefties.

6. What pitches did you throw?

To start, I threw 3 pitches...fastball, slider, change-up. But when I really became more successful was when I learned how to throw a 2 seam fastball and only threw a slider. I could never really get my arm speed and change up to be good enough to throw it when I needed to. Towards the last half of my career I would joke with guys saying my fastball is a glorified change up, because it had the movement of a good change up, but was thrown harder.
Early in my career, I would sit at 87-89, and had that through most of my career. Towards the end, last 2 years say, I was more 83-86

 7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?


Like I mentioned earlier, I was definitely a LOOGY, so I didn't face righties as much. With righties, I attacked mainly with my 2 seam fastball away early to get early swings and groundballs, then try to freeze em in late, or throw a slider on their back foot. If I was feeling really good with my slider, I would occasionally back door it also. As for lefties, it really depended on the hitter. Mostly I liked to put the ball down in the zone over the plate with a 2 seamer, and get them to roll over to second base early in the count. If I got ahead with strike one, my opinions really opened up. If I had a guy who was off the plate, most times I figured he wanted the ball away, so I would just keep moving my slider
out there and they would chase. Then, if I couldn't close the door on him out there, I would throw the 2 seamer back in under his hands and tie him up. If I was feeling really good, I would throw 3 or 4 sliders away, then change to a pitch inside, and lastly come back with a fastball away to freeze them because they figure I was going back to a slider and it was gonna be off the plate. Nothing better then getting a strike out looking because you threw the perfect fastball away. Hitters aren't a fan of getting beat by watching a fastball.
I guess something that I think was really important for me, was being able to come in and throw a slider for a strike first pitch, ESPECIALLY with runners in scoring position. A hitter loves nothing more then a couple of steaks (RBI) and want that first pitch fastball to hunt down and drive. Most hitters aren't up there wanting to swing at something spinning, they are
sitting dead red. Once I mastered that, I got a lot more outs.

8. What was your favorite part about pitching from down there?

I guess my favorite part about throwing from the side was that it was different then most of the guys out there. I always like the way my arm felt, and once I really got the hang of it, I enjoyed the advantage it gave me left on left.