Carroll starter to work on arm strength, third pitch

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Joe Heineman knows his role. When Carroll’s 2014 high school baseball season begins next February, he’s probably going to be the No. 2 starting pitcher behind junior-to-be Ben Leeper.

But the senior-to-be also knows he has an opportunity to make good on being that valued arm. The starting shortstop for the entire season, Heineman emerged as the closer during the District 4-5A season and through the Region I finals run. And he was clutch. He had four saves and picked up a win before the season ended against Arlington Martin.

As the summer season has started with the Dallas Tigers in the BBI, Heineman is going into it with the idea of preparing to be a starter when the chance comes.

“I definitely want to find confidence with my fastball and develop a third pitch,” Heineman said. “Locating your pitches at the corners and having confidence in all of them really will make the difference.”

The Tigers are scheduled to get going with the summer travel season soon with tournaments that include trips to San Diego, Lubbock, Norman, Okla., and Waco. He likely will play more shortstop than pitch. However, there will be an opportunity to start. There are several players on the team who are pitcher-only players. The Tigers played in a tournament in Grand Prairie this past week. He wasn’t scheduled to pitch.

However, when he does start, it will be important to work on everything that comes with being a starter. Heineman worked with his personal pitching coach Dave Osteen on developing his devastating circle change-up. He holds the ball so deep in his hand that it nearly touches his palm.

His fastball can touch 85 mph, but he didn’t throw it with regularity. Thus, there’s the issue with confidence. He also knows he has to add a third pitch. That’s exactly how coach Larry Hughes wants him to treat these next three months.

“Joe was very productive and a clutch player for us,” Hughes said. “He just needs to use the summer to get better, maybe in arm strength and possibly add work on a third pitch.”

That could be a cutter or a slider. It just depends on what feels more comfortable. The art of pitching is having a plan on how to attack lineups the second and third time through the order. As a closer, he could rely on his offspeed pitch to record outs because he only saw hitters once. When he pitched for the junior varsity in 2012, he knew he faced maybe two or three tough outs. At the varsity level, he’s probably going to face five or six bona fide hitters.

So in successive duels, those foes will make adjustments. So must he.

“That’s extremely important, especially locating the balls on the corners,” he said. “It’s knowing when to throw a ball at 0-2 and maybe throwing one in the dirt. You just have to know that you can’t give anything away.

“I’m definitely going to keep working on my fastball because it has to be an important pitch. That’s going to make everything better.”

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