Catching Up with Tasker Strobel
Photo credit: Ashley Nylen

 

Coming off one of the American Association’s best performances in 2021, pitcher Tasker Strobel is primed for even greater heights in his first season with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

The left-hander struck out 70 batters in 68.0 innings for the Gary SouthShore RailCats last year, which ranked first in the league among pitchers who made less than five starts.

Strobel features a deep, five-pitch arsenal that includes a pair of fastballs that touch 94 miles per hour, a slider, curveball, and change-up.

In recent years, however, the journey has been far from easy.

 

Tasker Strobel in 2021. Photo credit: Ashley Nylen
Tasker pitching for Gary in 2021. Photo Credit: Ashley Nylen

 

Tommy John surgery cost Strobel all of 2018, and the now-26-year-old made just two appearances the following year.

During the pandemic-stricken 2020 season, Strobel re-established both his performance and confidence pitching in the United Shore Professional Baseball League, ultimately paving a return to the American Association.

Strobel’s return to full strength can largely be attributed to his time spent at PRP (“Passion Resilience Process”), a state-of-the-art training facility in his home state of Indiana.

As soon as the Driveline era came out, I realized I needed to start building arm strength and get into this stuff

PRP integrates many of the modalities and technology utilized by today’s Major League players.

“I’ve been with Greg Vogt and PRP for about five years. I was actually one of the first guys he started training with,” Strobel said. “He definitely helped with my journey in my professional career. It just kind of grew with me. I haven’t always been the most analytical, but as soon as the Driveline era came out, I realized I needed to start building arm strength and get into this stuff.”

Located in Kent, Washington, Driveline Baseball is considered the gold standard for modern player development, and its growth over the past decade has helped facilities like PRP gain traction across North America. Vogt, PRP’s founder, recently accepted a coaching position in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.

When he returned from surgery, Strobel’s fastball was sitting in the 88-90 mph range.

For decades, it was believed that premium throwing velocity was simply God-given. You either had it or you didn’t. And if you did have it, it was only a matter of time until you didn’t.

By carefully planning and implementing sport-specific strength training and the use of various weighted balls — two methods for pitching development widely-accepted today, but that were frowned upon not long ago — countless athletes, including Strobel, have been able to take control of their careers and improve velocity.

 

Tasker Strobel in 2021. Photo credit: Ashley Nylen
Tasker pitching for Gary in 2021. Photo Credit: Ashley Nylen

 

“We use TrackMan, Rapsodo, Edgertronic cameras,” said Strobel. “We’ve got everything you need, and it’s definitely helped my career. Whether it’s making curveballs or sliders a little sharper or getting more run on a two-seamer, just being around like-minded guys makes it fun to come in here every day.”

TrackMan and Rapsodo units collect the flight characteristics of each pitch as it’s released out of the hand to the moment it crosses the plate. Edgertronic cameras record slow-motion footage with a level of clarity that allows athletes and coaches to see exactly how the ball is coming off the fingers and fingertips.

Leveraging the truth data these technologies provide to optimize an arsenal is colloquially referred to as “pitch design.” The spirit of pitch design is hardly a new concept, but before the likes of TrackMan and Rapsodo, the process relied heavily on trial and error.

With MLB pitch flight data now accessible to the public, amateur and minor league athletes can immediately compare their own “stuff” to that of the best pitchers in the world. The technology simply eliminates much of the guesswork, and provides a quicker and clearer roadmap to a desired outcome. This allows more time and energy for a pitcher to practice good reps versus “throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.”

Last year, the American Association brokered a partnership with Rapsodo. Each team was outfitted with its own units for tracking pitch flight and batted ball flight, and the Goldeyes were among the league leaders in their utilization.

The end goal for me is to get affiliated. Getting signed is definitely a dream, and I’m working hard for it.

Now entering his fifth season as a professional, Strobel is still working towards his first opportunity with a Major League organization.

“The end goal for me is to get affiliated,” said Strobel. “Getting signed is definitely a dream, and I’m working hard for it.”

While that ultimate decision is largely out of his or any other player’s control, Goldeyes’ fans can certainly appreciate Strobel’s willingness to do whatever it takes to be the best he can be.

 

 

Listen to a full interview with Tasker Strobel from the Jan 24 edition of The Inside Pitch:

Closed captioning available on YouTube

 

 

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