Ep. #016: Join Evan and Manny Roman, Pitching Coach for Monroe Mustangs, as Manny shares his experience as a pitching coach, what it was like at the Juco World Series as well as tips and tools to help pitchers take their games to the next level.
What You’ll Learn:
01:13 Manny’s journey
04:15 Arm care tools and tips
07:55 Training the whole body
09:39 Pitching drills
11:10 Pre-season Process
14:42 Juco World Series experience
20:24 Pitcher Catcher Relationship
21:54 On trusting your players
23:03 College Recruiting
27:14 MLB Pitchers to watch
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Read show notes here.
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Episode 016_MANNY ROMAN_PITCHING COACH MONROE MUSTANGS
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Calling all ballplayers. Are you ready to take your game to the next level? Were you born to baseball? Then bring it in it's game time.
Hey guys, and welcome to the born to baseball podcast. I'm Evan and today we have Manny Roman joining us. Manny first started coaching at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2012, and served as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Lackawanna college. He is currently the pitching coach for the Monroe Mustangs from New York who have won three regional championships in the last four years. Manny, thank you so much for joining me today.
Hey, thanks for having me, Evan.
Can you start us off by sharing a little background about your baseball journey as a player,
My baseball journey started, I'd say probably around three or four years old, in my native Puerto Rico, I was born and raised there, played through a lot of the leagues over there. After high school, I decided, you know, my dream was to play professional baseball. And I also wanted to play baseball in the States. So after high school, I decided to go to Scranton, Pennsylvania Keystone college, a small Division Three school, I got to play there for four years. And after my sophomore year, I kind of realized, Hey, you know, I might not be a professional athlete, you know, but I do really love baseball and, and that's where I kind of made the transition and said, you know what I want to coach after I'm done playing, and that's what I've been doing since
Would you say there's like, a difference between baseball in Puerto Rico and then here in the States?
Yes, yes. Not not so much different from New York City, I would say but a lot different from other states. And I think in Puerto Rico, it's a lot more passionate, like the kids and a little bit more, I would say exciting. When you're in the dugout, people are always chanting and singing and all that. Here it's kind of more laid back. But yeah, it is a little bit different.
And how did you get into coaching? Was it something like you always knew you sort of wanted to do?
So? Not really, you know, my plan originally was I was going to play four years of college. And if I could play professional baseball, I would do it. If not, I would go back to Puerto Rico. But like I said before, after my second year in college, I was like, You know what, I really like this, I thought there was a lot of information that wasn't brought back to Puerto Rico. So I said, Hey, I want to coach and I want to help kids, you know, get to places where I couldn't go and offer them a better opportunity. So it kind of started with me wanting to help guys from Puerto Rico. And then it turned out that helping kids from all over.
Yeah, that's great. That's a really great, like passion that you have for wanting to help kids where you come from, and I really like that. Would you say there's one or two coaches that really inspired you to coach?
So yes, you know, there's a lot of guy had a couple coaches in Puerto Rico that, you know, they did a lot for the sport. And while they had, you know, they had their families, they had their full time jobs, and they kind of put so much time into us that you know, at first you don't really appreciate it. But as you're getting older, you're kind of like, Hey, you know, that person did a lot for me, and they put me in the right track. And then once I got into Keystone, the same thing, I had a couple coaches where I was like, you know what they, they want the best for me, not just only in baseball, but in life in general. So that's when I was like, You know what, this, this is something I can see myself doing for a career.
That's really amazing. And many of our listeners, they're youth baseball players and coaches. So for those middle school and high school baseball players, can you share some advice on how much attention these players should be putting on ARM care.
That's where the majority of the attention should be. You know, I think arm care is something that sometimes we kind of, it kind of takes a backseat because we just want to play and play and win. But I think arm care is The most important thing that you should do as a youth athlete, because it's going to help you out. Once you make that transition into college. You know, it's very important to make sure that you probably stretching before games, making sure you're getting your bands done. And then when you're done playing the same thing, I think it's more important to take care of your arm after you're done playing for a day or throwing than it is prior to it.
That's really valuable. And I know a lot of guys, including myself, we use j bands from Jaeger sports, which are definitely a great tool for arm care and arm strength. So do you have some of your guys use bands? And what are some of the different exercises and movements that you do?
So we actually purchase Jaeger bands for all our pitchers. So that's something that you know we, Monroe does a really good job is providing those tools for the guys that, you know to take care of themselves. So we implement that from day one, they show up in the fall. And we follow the program that they have. And then as the year goes on, guys kind of come up with their own exercises and do what works for them. We also do a lot of plyo ball arm care stuff from driveline. So we try to kind of implement that. And, you know, we set like I said, a program for them. But you know, everybody's different. So everybody kind of adjusts ands tweaks it to how they're feeling on a day to day basis.
For those exercises that you give them. How many reps would you say on average would you give for each exercise.
So when they're warming up, we do anywhere from 15 to 25, just to kind of get the blood flowing to your shoulders and all the way through your arm and stuff. once they're done, post throwing, we'll do anywhere from eight to 10 nothing crazy, just you know, work on the arm a little bit, and make sure we're hitting those small muscles and getting the arm strength that we need.
And like once again, for a youth baseball player like Middle School, and then again, for a high school player. Would you recommend doing like, a certain amount of reps for them? Would it be what you do for Monroe? Like in the beginning? or after? How many reps Do you think for them?
I think you know, I'm not as much as what we would do at the college level, you know, cuz guys are a little bit more mature. But I think if you can do anywhere from eight to 12 reps, and maybe two or three sets, just depending how you're feeling on that day, that would be great. No, I think that's a good baseline, you know, before throwing and after throwing to follow.
Okay, that's really good to know. And with pitching, it's not just about using your arm and training your arm. It's also about using your entire body.
When I talked with former Major Leaguer Nelson Figueroa in a previous episode, he said that he wished he trained more his legs and even at the major league level. So my question to you is, what are some workouts and movements that you do with your players to help them train some of the other body parts that help a pitcher become physically stronger and more explosive and more effective on the mound?
Yeah, so you know, I'm, in my years coaching, you know, and what I had before a lot of people say, Hey, don't lift heavy, like pitchers shouldn't be lifting heavy, because you know, it'll restrict you, I've come to the realization that you, you don't lift heavy, but you kind of have to lift the same as a position player would. So we do a lot of squats. We do like clean power cleans. So more like a, say like an Olympic style lifting program. You know, we do a lot of box jumps. You know, skaters, stuff like that, that is not only just weight, but it's also explosiveness. So it's kind of translates into pitching because, you know, pitching is kind of like a, you know, as a short burst, you do explode once the ball leaves the other hand, there you go. So we try to get exercises that relate right to what we're doing on the mound.
And other than your arm, like what would you say the most important body part to train for a pitcher is?
I say, it's your legs and your core. And the way I see it, it's kind of like, I always tell my guys is kind of like a car, right, your legs are your motor, your core is your transmission. And then your arm is what comes out of those two. So the force comes through the ground, through your abs through your arm. So those two are not strong, it's only a matter of time we arms gonna go. So you got to make sure your legs and your core are where they need to be. So then you can put all that force into your arm.
Yeah, that's really interesting.
And for the players who are set on like pitching at the college level someday, what are some of the drills that you think would really help those players develop?
So I'm big on on on towel drills because it helps you, you know, you're not putting a lot of stress on your arm. You're, you know, you're working on your mechanics. And then it also helps a little bit you know, with the resistance of the tower with with your strengthening your shoulder. So I think tile drills are very important. And throwing, you know, I feel like a lot of kids at a younger age don't throw enough. And so I think throwing towel drills, and just maybe do things at a short distance, I think helps a lot. You know, it's, we do that a lot with our guys, because, you know, I, my philosophy is, if you can make a ball break or locate at a short distance, you can do it at 60 feet.
When it comes to like, velocity or location, which one would you say is more important?
I would say to me my preference, I would say location. I feel especially at the younger age, you know, if you can locate, it's only a matter of time with you know, with proper training and taking care of yourself where velocity is going to come in to play. So I rather have a guy that can locate a pitch than a guy that can throw in 100 miles an hour and doesn't know where it's gonna go. Right. You know, so I but you know, at some point, they have to go hand in hand. So yeah, and in a perfect world, you want to have a guy that has both. But if I would have to pick one, I'm going to take the guy that throw strikes.
Okay, can you walk us through what you do with your college guys, like during the preseason, like, before they even pick up a baseball.
So when they get in day one, you know, I always tell my guys, you're probably gonna do more running in a week than you've ever done in your entire baseball career. So we do a lot of conditioning, that's the first thing we do. And it's not just to get them ready to pitch, but it's kind of challenge them mentally, right, and kind of break them down a little bit, to kind of see how tough they are. Um, so I say like, the first week, before we fully get on the mound and do you know, start doing actual pitching stuff, we're mainly conditioning, like doing a lot of running, doing a lot of different stations like speed and agility and stuff like that to kind of get them going. And then once you start throwing, I like to get them in a long toss program first, right, kind of build their arm strength up a little bit. And then once we were right where we need to be, then, you know, we get on the mound. And then after that, it's kind of like, you know, you'll throw a bullpen on a Monday, let's say and then Tuesday, you have a, you either get a day off or you long toss, and then you go for a run and Wednesday you do something else. So we kind of map it out where every day they're throwing, they're doing some type of throwing and some type of running. And then on top of that, they d,o you know, their arm care stuff. So that that's, that's big.
Okay, that's, that's really interesting. And, as you said, like running is super important. And I like how you said, like, with your college kids, how you not only do the running to condition, but you also do them to get them ready for the troubles that they might have on the field with the mental side. So like speaking on the mental side, what do you do to help your players like if they do break down during the game and start giving up a ton of hits, and you say like, for instance, a starter, you don't want to take them out in the first inning. So what would you do during like a mound visit?
I would go back and you know, talk to him, tell him to step back, um, you know, and just relax and just go back to the fundamentals of just like, hey, just trust your stuff. You know, sometimes, you know, when you start getting hit around, you kind of doubt your ability, and you're like, oh, maybe your stuffs not good enough. But I always tell them, and that's one thing that I always tell, like harp on and say it's like, you know, everybody is a great pitcher when everything's working, right, but the day that something's not working, that's the day you're gonna find out what kind of pitcher you are, you know, you might have given up four runs in the first inning. And I'll go out down, I'll tell you guess what you gave up four. But now give us a chance, get us out of the inning. Right, we'll find a way to claw ourselves back into the game and win the game. Now your job is not to worry about what happened is what's going to happen moving forward. So it's just more kind of like, instilling in them that confidence that hey, it's baseball, anything can happen. You had a bad ending. Now you just move forward and you try to help the team as much as you can.
Yeah, that's great coaching right there.
So you've helped them enroll Mustangs to three regional titles in the last four years, as well as back to back JUCO World Series appearances, which is super impressive. Can you talk about that Juco World Series experience and some of the things that contributed to that team success.
So that experience of going to the Juco world series it's it's like no other Yeah, I wish every kid that comes through our program gets a chance to experience that. I mean, you get to see some of the best players in the country. In that stage, you know, it comes down only to ten teams and you might see a future Major Leaguer that you don't know at the time, but he might end up being in the big leagues in a couple years. You know, for example, you know, Bryce Harper got to play there. So when we went there and you go to for the banquet, you get to see them display where they have his pictures and stuff like that. So it's kind of cool to see the history of all the players that have gone through through that tournament, that, you know, end up having very successful playing careers. And, you know, getting there wasn't easy, you know, it's kind of like a lot of, you know, bumps through the road as the both years where we were playing, we didn't have the best starts, but you know, it was a matter of time, you know, we knew we had the talent, we knew we had the, the right guys to get where we needed to be. It was just a matter of getting hot at the right time. You know, in that first year, that's what happened, we got hot at the right time. And then with the weather and certain things happened, it kind of played into our favor, where we ended up playing a college that is in our same region we got, we ended up playing them in the eastern district championship. So it's kind of like, you know, we knew, you know, what they had, we know what they were going to throw at us. And it kind of made it a little bit easier that first year. Now, the second year, it was again, we started 1 and 11. So nobody in the country gave us a shot. We, nobody thought we were going to claw ourselves back out of that.
Yeah That's crazy.
Yeah. And then guys, kinda, you know, we stayed with it, we, we kept telling Hey, you're never out of it. You just got to make sure you get to the regional tournament. And then after that, it's anybody's ballgame. And that's kind of what we did. And we we ran through the eastern district where it was something very impressive, where we I think we average like 10 runs a game.
Wow. That's, that's really impressive. Yeah, that that sounds like a great, like, super cool Juco experience. And I know you must have loved going there with the Mustangs and being a part of that.
Yes, definitely. Definitely. I mean, it was a great, great group of guys, both years that we went and, and I enjoyed both of them.
What would you say like really contributed to that success? Is it like Was it the hitters? Or was it the mindset that was going on there? What type of things really contributed to that?
I think it was a little bit of everything. I mean, the first year, I'm not gonna lie, we had three starters that, you know, between the three of them, they won over 30 games. Every time those three took them on, you knew you were going to win a game. Now one of them ended up going to No, got drafted that year in the 12th. Round.
Yeah that's Unbelievable.
Yeah, the other guy went eight in one and the other guy went like, he was like, 11, or something like that. And it was like, you know, you knew when you had a shot with those three guys, right. And then the next year, we had a deeper pitching staff, but we weren't performing. So our hitters had to pick up the slack for for the pitchers. And then, at the end of the year, like I said it was you know, we got hot, so pitchers started, you know, clicking on all cylinders, plus the hitting had come around, I would say probably like two weeks prior to that. And we put it together. So it's a combination of you know, the entire team.
And some pictures, they have tendencies that really good hitters can pick up.
Unknown Speaker 18:27
like when you identify that one of your pitchers, is either tipping their pitches or giving a baserunner a bit of an edge? How do you help them eliminate those bad habits.
So it's, you know, it's kind of tough to try and make an in game adjustment. Just because, you know, it's JUCO you're dealing with 18, 19, 20 year olds. So, you know, they are very talented, but at the same time, they're not professional athletes where they can just on the fly, make it. So you, you know, you try to get it out of him in the game, or you just you just say hey, battle through it. And then w'll get back to the drawing board tomorrow, and then we'll work on getting that out of the way. But you know, there's certain guys that can do it. And there's, there's others guys where you kind of have to take, it's gonna take a span of seven days before their next start, you know, working on it every day, they get it out.
Yeah it makes a lot of sense. And that makes you a good coach, being able to really identify them in the first place. And then say, let's work on it and knowing your pitcher knowing your guy, knowing that he might not be able to make it in game. Let's go to the drawing board tomorrow and this week and really make sure we can perfect that.
And on top of that, you know we've had some really smart hitters the last couple years so when you know they face each other in the fall and then during winter ball when we're getting ready for the season. You know, they do a great job of communicating with myself and with the pitcher and letting him know hey, when you're throwing this picture doing this or where you're going You know, when you're going to go, you go fastball, then curveball right away, like, you know, so they do a good job talking to each other, and letting each other know what they're doing and what they're not doing. So, you know, it's, it's pretty good to see when they do that.
Yeah, that's, that's a big recipe for success really being able to communicate with your team and your teammates communicating by themselves without the coach having to tell them to
And a great pitcher and catcher relationship are, they play a huge role in the pitchers and the team's success. So how do you help create an environment that really helps foster good pitcher and catcher relationships.
So, you know, one thing we try to do is like, each catcher has to catch every single guy, you know, in the fall, we make sure that they they're not just always throwing to the same guy. And, you know, when we're doing our flat grounds, sometimes when the the catches are not hitting, we'll bring them over and have them catch a flat ground. So in that way, they get used to, you know, every single guy, how each ball breaks and all that, you know, the other thing we do is, once we're starting getting ready to the season, we start having like classroom meetings, where it's caches and pitchers You know, and we talk about how we're going to attack hitters, how we're going to control the running game, and then I just kind of like, pick each other and they call pick a catcher and a pitcher, and then we'll pick a guy on our lineup and be like, how are you going to attack this guy, and give me every scenario, if you go first pitch strike, if you go, you know, first pitch ball, if it's a 1-1 count, and they kind of, you know, bounce ideas off of each other. And, and that's how they kind of, you know, kind of gel when especially in those classroom meetings, because they kind of see whether they're all on the same page or they're not, and then they work it all out.
OK that's a really interesting and really cool way to work it out between them. Like you said,
And what did you take away from your experiences at the Juco World Series that have really helped you become a better pitching coach?
I think sometimes, yeah, you got to trust your players more, you know, sometimes you, you get so focused on what you're doing as a coach, like, for example, you know, I call the pitches at Monroe and there's times where I find myself in a pattern, right. And, you know, some of the competition that we face, it's, it's not the greatest. So you can get away with certain things. But once you get to the, to that kind of tournament, the hitters are a lot better. So they definitely pick up on a lot of things. So it's more like, hey, trust your guys trust what they're telling you, and sometimes just let them be them. You know, don't over coach them. Just let them go out there and play. Because at the end of the day, you know, we might call anything we can but we're in the dugout. They're the ones out there that have the front row seat to the situation.
For sure. Yeah, thanks for sharing that with us.
And are you involved in like the recruiting process for high school ballplayers?
Yes. So we all kind of split up the responsibility of recruiting. So we kind of split it up, you know, one guy that's like, the Manhattan area somebody else does, like the Bronx, um, I try to do New Jersey since I live in New Jersey, and then some of the Puerto Rico and stuff like that. But yes, we're all involved in it. And it's, it's a tough process that, you know, be in practice every day, and then try to go out there and watch some games, but it's fun.
What are some of the like, the measurements and characteristics that you look for when you're looking at a high school pitcher.
So, you know, obviously, we always look at the speed to kind of see where they're at. I think that's probably the first thing you see is like alright, he's, the velocity you can play at our level, then we see, you know, how he does. Throwing strikes, and then we'll see when, how he doesn't want me struggling? I think, you know, like I said before, when everything's on, it's easy to pitch. But I want to see when you're getting hit around, I want to see when somebody on your team boots a ball, I want to see what your reaction is going to be and how you're going to bounce back from that. And then you know, once athletically, he meets all the check marks, then we talked to the coach and I asked him Hey, what type of kid is he? How is he with his teammates? Like, how is he in the classroom ? And I I'm a strong believer that everything goes hand in hand. And you know if you're a good student, and that means you're gonna go to be a good baseball player because you're willing to learn. So
Yeah, that's important for high school baseball players listening, just to really say like, Okay, this is what I need to work on. This is what they look for, and different things like Like that. And so skill is incredibly important, obviously. Because, I mean, you need a certain amount of skill to play at a certain level. But a player's character also plays a huge role, like you said, in their success. So how do you guys and like the all the other coaching staff, help your players build a stronger character,
well we try to hold them accountable for everything they do, you know, it starts from going to class, right? You got to be able to show up to class every single day, you know, be on time for practice, you know, be willing to sit out and we we try to, like I said, hold them accountable as much as we can, with all the little things that they do. Because then it turns down to the bigger things, right, when you can get a guy paying attention to something as small, as you know, picking up a cup that was left in the dugout, you know, that's just being responsible, and you're like, Alright, he's getting it. So we try to, you know, if you miss class, you're going to pay the consequences for it. And if you're disrespectful to the teacher, you're going to pay the consequences to it. And sometimes, we may get a team thing, you know, just to kind of get everybody on board and be like, hey, you're not going to be able to get this, get away with this. And then what that does when you punish everybody, for something that one guy did, then everybody else starts holding each other accountable. Like, hey, don't do that, again, because we don't want to know we don't want to run, we don't want to do this. So something like that.
Yeah, that'sa great way of going about things is like, I know, my coach, like, we do things as a team, we make sure that everything is one as a team. So that's a really great way of doing things.
Because like, we say, you know, if you're gonna win, you're gonna win as a team, you're gonna lose, you're gonna lose as a team. So it's very important that, you know, everybody is holding each other accountable, you know, in a respectful way, and, and just looking out for each other. That's, that's what it comes down to, you know, you got to look out for your brother, and you got to know that guy to your right, that guy to your left, just put in the same amount of work that you did.
And so which one or two major league pitchers like past or present, would you encourage your players to watch and really learn a lot from?
Oh, that's tough. there's been a lot of great ones. But I would say, I think one of the most fundamentally sound pitchers was Mariano Rivera. I think he is he wasn't only just one of the greatest to do it. But he is very mechanically sound and in everything he did. And I think Greg Maddux, I think those two guys are the best examples to look at.
Yeah, there's two unbelievable pitchers who Yes, yeah, that amazing legacies left behind in baseball. Yeah. And what are some things like I know, you talked about like, Mariano Rivera is very, like, mechanically correct. And does everything mechanically really well? What do you think it is with like Greg Maddux? Is it that? Is it the same thing? Or is it something different about him,
I think is the same thing. You know, he's also, you know, very fundamentally sound, but his biggest thing as he learned how to manipulate the ball. And I think that that's something that kids struggle to do, because they just wait, they just want to throw as hard as they can. Which there's nothing wrong with that. But you can be able to throw hard and manipulate the baseball and make it go wherever you want. So I think sometimes it's more of a feel thing where guys need to learn how to play with the ball. And I mean, we saw how long he did it. And he wasn't throwing 95 miles an hour. So
yeah, like, once again, those are two unbelievable examples with legacies left behind in baseball. So and before we wrap it up, are there any projects that you're working on that you want to share with our board baseball community? And where can our listeners go to learn a little bit more about you?
Before everything got shut down, I was working with a travel organization from Puerto Rico that actually brings kids out here to get them exposed. So I was going to kind of help them out. You know, and help them get exposed and go to some tournaments and stuff like that. But you know, with everything being canceled, that kind of took a backseat. Um, but you know, you can go if you want to know more about myself, you can go to my Twitter. It's @coachManny45. I put some stuff sometimes up there. They're not really I'm afraid of what people are going to comment if I put some videos up and stuff or my Instagrams coach_Manny45. You know, if anybody wants, you know, to run something by me or whatever anybody can just, you know, send me a message and I'll gladly, you know, help you out if you want to send videos or anything like that. I can do that.
And I look forward to seeing the Mustangs play one day soon. They're a great team, by the way. There's a lot of success going on there. Well, Manny, thank you again. Thank you so much for hopping on and sharing insight with the born to baseball community.
Thank you for having man, this is awesome.
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