WVC Products Black, Wotherspoon Host Clinic At Next Level
KINGSTON — Ray Black and Matt Wotherspoon have been in the shoes of the nearly 30 campers who took part in the Black and Spoon Pitching Clinic on Friday morning.
The featured attractions of the clinic were not afforded the opportunities that they were offering inside the Next Level Training Facility.
And that is what makes mornings like this special for Black and Wotherspoon, two Wyoming Valley Conference products who now make their living playing professional baseball.
There were games played, photos taken and autographs signed. But more importantly, the knowledge Black and Wotherspoon have accumulated over the course of their collegiate and professional careers was passed on to the wide-eyed students who hope to someday be able to throw a baseball the same way Black and Wotherspoon can.
“Ray and I were talking about it to the kids, we really didn’t have this kind of thing,” said Wotherspoon, a Crestwood and University of Pittsburgh grad who is a member of the Baltimore Orioles organization. “The important thing is for the kids to have fun. Not necessarily teaching them too many things mechanically, it’s about having fun and learning how to work, and work properly.”
Black, who graduated from Coughlin and Pitt, reached the big leagues with the San Francisco Giants. He and Wotherspoon recalled attending a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons camp, but other than that, there were not too many other options.
That’s why being able to headline a camp such as the one at The Next Level gives them a sense of accomplishment. And it always helps when there are campers who attend each year.
“That is one of the things Spoon and I talked about, having the experience and knowledge between us over 10 years in pro baseball,” said Black. “Both of us going to a Division I university, going through the recruiting process. That was overwhelming for me. To be able to come back and help these kids at a younger age and teaching them how to protect their arm. That is what it’s all about. Pass some knowledge we have gotten outside the area and even inside the area. Just sharing our experiences and maybe these kids will be able to get a leg up on their competition.”
Black made his major league debut with the Giants on July 8 and appeared in 26 games overall. He struck out 33 in 23 1/3 innings of work. Wotherspoon spent the entire year in Triple-A with the Norfolk Tides where he split time between the bullpen and starting rotation and appeared in 39 games, 12 of them starts.
One of the biggest lessons handed down at the camp was being able to locate pitches. Black is armed with a fastball that can reach triple digits, but it is the ability to command the fastball that makes all the difference.
“I might have a two-seam (fastball), but I just want to fine-tune my stuff,” Black said. “A lot of people say that you can’t get a batter out you need a curve or change. Most of the time it is just pitch location. I’d rather fine-tune one or two pitches than have six bad ones. For me, it is just about building on what I did last year and building on that consistency. Pitching is a skill. It is not about who is the biggest or throws the hardest. It is about who can get a batter out. As much as you work in the weight room, it basically comes down to mechanics.”
Both Wotherspoon and Black are appreciative of having the opportunity to come back and teach.
“It’s really cool,” Wotherspoon said. “I always looked up to college players, I really didn’t know many pro guys. We are really grateful to be able to do something like this.”
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